Is iOS 7 buying time for Apple, or stealing time from Android?

“A set of polls on the Polar app [reveal that] of more than 45,000 votes cast on iOS 6 vs iOS 7′s icon designs, 65% of all votes were for new iOS 7 icons. The icons are only a part of the story, of course, but they reveal an important part of the design process (and problem) with iOS 7,” Anthony Wing Kosner writes for Forbes.

The Next Web reports that Jony Ive actually farmed out the graphic design of the icons to Apple’s marketing team, who worked independently of the app team. By this logic, the somewhat uneven collection of icons was selected via some elaborate A/B testing process. This would explain why although designers seem to favor the individual icons of iOS 7 or iOS 6, ‘taken together,’ Polar founder Luke Wroblewski tells me, ‘the consensus seems to be the design of iOS 7 is off,” Kosner writes. “Why the divide and conquer approach? One obvious explanation is that the 7-month time frame was too fast for a more integrated design process.”

Kosner writes, “Mark Wilson on Fast Company’s design blog raises the idea that, ‘Ive let Apple’s marketing department build the new face of iOS because, in effect, the face of iOS is little more than a marketing ploy anyway.’ Wilson cites the use of transparent panels of graphics over user-selected photos as an example of how people will tune iOS 7 to their own tases anyway. ‘In practical use,’ he continues, ‘the iPhone’s new look and feel will be more often dictated and personalized by its users—thanks to a whole slew of choices made by Apple’s more traditional design team.'”

MacDailyNews Take: Exactly. See our own early example (iOS 7 beta 1) below:

Apple's basic iOS 7 example on the left vs. a MacDailyNews iPhone 5 running iOS 7 on the right.
Apple’s basic iOS 7 example on the left vs. a MacDailyNews iPhone 5 running iOS 7 on the right.

Kosner writes, “I think there is a bit of a ploy at play with iOS 7 altogether—and the target is Android. On the Android and Me blog, Dustin Earley suggests that Apple’s new design could hurt Android merely by keeping developers occupied updating iOS apps instead of switching over to Android development… Apple has essentially created a boodoggle for developers to keep them occupied tending to their iOS apps and buying some valuable time until the release of the iPhone 5s.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Arline M.” for the heads up.]


  1. Oh yeah, I’m sure that the driver here was some bogus marketing ploy. I can just hear someone suggesting at a meeting at Apple that they should release an update to the OS so that developers would be so busy trying to make their apps conform that they’d have no time for Android development. Seems like a pretty common driver for Apple, doesn’t it?

  2. Yes I do like the personalisation aspect which gives great potential though if true I am shocked that Ive would sublet the graphic design to the marketing dept, tht is totally insulting. I wonder how he would have felt if Jobs had farmed out product design to the same dept. it might explain way there is a bit of camel in the end result mind. Yes let me free on the new Mac Pro and I will add that cup holder everyone is calling for Jony.

    1. We don’t know that Jobs never did farm out icon design to the marketing department. He may have had final approval of any design, and so we have the famous stories of how Jobs rejected things outright and sent teams back to the drawing board.

  3. What a colossal waste of time it is to talk and talk and talk about these this stuff that has no real relevance to the elephant in the room at Cupertino. Another day of market gains across the board – everywhere except AAPL. When will shareholders insist that their board of directors act like they care about the future of the company and find someone to run it who knows what the hell he/she is doing?

    1. Jay:

      I totally agree with you.

      MDN: no way. You can’t just change a background color of your wallpaper and say, “fixed”. Not a chance.

      There are major usability problems with iOS 7 that have nothing to do with wallpaper. This revolves around thinness of fonts and transparency.

      1. Control Center transparency obscures the UI elements and the UI elements are cluttered and too thin.
      2. Thin fonts are way too thin. Things like lists in Contacts App are terrible to use.
      3. Transparent background on top status bar has things in Apps going underneath the UI elements. It’s ugly and terrible for usability.
      4. The Calendar App… the hit areas are too small in the overview view. This goes against Apple’s own HIG.
      5. The Weather App… all the front matter is washed out with the background. Too thin and light. And difficult to use outside.
      6. In the iTunes App, try selecting “Create” underneath the volume scrubber when the volume scrubber in the center. It’s almost impossible because the UI elements are almost overlapping.
      7. Search. Search results are almost impossible to see and the whole thing is pretty much unusable. The body font is way too small and washed out as a grey color over a darker transparent background. It breaks every design rule when it comes to contrast.

      And there are dozens and dozens and dozens more stuff like this riddled in iOS 7. It has major usability problems because the design is NOT FUNCTIONAL.

        1. No. You’re all focused on icon design. The list I provided just scratches the surface of the problems with iOS 7 when it comes to usability problems. That’s the position of UI elements. The thickness of them. And so forth.

          None of those things can be rectified without redoing things.

        2. Joe,

          The elements do not actually change colour.
          Not at all, look carefully. What happens is the fonts and designs and symbols show through the transparency.

          Like a PNG file, 0% is totally transparent, 10% or 30 % white is translucent.

          The white or black layers on top – are merely screen-backing (tinting / shading) the colour on top your wall paper. Its a very lame effect; far too simple and is useless to calling this customization. Its nothing.

        1. Hi bugs:

          As a matter of fact, I’ve been in regular contact with the people directly responsible for the design of iOS 7. There’s 3 guys. The media keeps pushing the idea that Jony Ive designed and spearheaded iOS 7 which is complete crap. He’s the VP of design overall. Yes at the end of the day he signed off on this but there are 3 guys who are DIRECTLY in charge and responsible for iOS’s UI and UX.

          They’re listening. We’re working through it and redesigning our App. I can tell you we ain’t following Apple’s HIG with more than they are. The trick is adding our own flavor because their UI icons blow hard.

      1. i have not used iOS7
        yet the same inconsistencies in the icon designs totally contrast what apples new ads talk about – simply striving for perfection.

        iOS7 is work in progress
        and as it stands – i agree with you slim on

        “Wilson cites the use of transparent panels of graphics over user-selected photos as an example of how people will tune iOS 7 to their own tases anyway. ‘In practical use,’ he continues, ‘the iPhone’s new look and feel will be more often dictated and personalized by its users”

        for me, white or black translucency – layers showing my wall paper beneath – really is not customization – for apple to suggest it is is extremely lame – the new features all exist in Android already – sorry to offend apple fans – i am a fan too – but apple plays catch up here now

        i can only hope – apples approach is to better user experiences and make it even easier over all

        1. The UI has been reduced to absurdity by many designers already.

          For instance, use a whiteish background and enter the lock screen on your iOS 7 device. You’ll notice the fonts and UI elements of the lock screen are pretty much gone! That’s because they break a UI design rule of having backgrounds behind UI elements so it doesn’t matter what background you use.

          1. I honestly don’t understand the UI rules.
            But do totally agree from day one that the font is horrible
            Far too thin to read, far too similar to the competition, an irresponsible design decision. If Ives is merely signing off without real thought – so is Cook one would assume.

            I dislike all this verbiage, the use of words to imply functionality, again, not international. Not graphical at all. Flowing pulsation over the words – a highlight across the swipe to unlock – is simple yet non-universal. Though elegant in appearance it is not all that intuitive.

            Apple thinks simplicity comes in words?
            I believe its wrong. I don’t like iOS7 presently.

            1. I agree Sweet Jesus. This isn’t FUNCTIONAL design. This is an old school design… someone oriented paper… Do you know how many times I’ve had to hear “white space” from Apple? They’re wanting us to use white space liberally. On a phone it seems to be falling apart because the screen just doesn’t lend itself to white space very well.

              In a large room? A billboard? A poster? Sure, white space… knock yourself out. But the phone has such a tiny palette. It’s fucked.

              And the buttons that are gone with words replacing them. How the fuck are they going to translate all that in terms of localization? What’s “Settings” in Russian? German? Ugh… I pity them.

    2. You may be right. Apple is becoming an icon for corporate mismanagement. Tim Cook’s legacy looks more and more like he will go down as the man who destroyed America’s once greatest company. Look just recently at his major gross mistakes.

      1. His makes disparaging remarks about David Einhorn about his idea of returning capital to shareholders without disturbing Apple’s cash pile. It becomes so apparent that Einhorn is right that he then goes ahead with the 60Bln buy back idea. This does not engender any confidence in Cook’s financial management abilities or maybe it is an aloof attitude that does not put any credence in shareholder’s advise? Remember the cash pile was only earning less than 1.0%
      while each share bought now saves 2.8 to 3.0% in dividends alone to say nothing about the increase in EPS.

      2. OK. He now takes Einhorn’s obvious advice and goes ahead with the bond issue to buy back shares. Apple gets 52 Bln in bids only takes 17Bln despite the fact that the buy back earns more than 3 times the cash. Interest rates are at historic lows so there is little downside to taking more now than waiting and taking it later. Hypothetically, if Apple had taken all 50 Bln look at the enormous potential capital gain they could have realized by buying back the bonds now. 16% of 50 Bln comes to $8.0 bln dollars or more than most analysts are predicting they will earn this quarter!
      Apparently they do not teach much about finance at Fuqua.

      3. Cook has been spending a miserly 2% or maybe even less on R&D. When the other major tech firms such as Google, Facebook, Samsung, Cisco, Linked In , etc. typically spend 6% to 15%. Apple cannot keep up in a fast changing rapid growth market like the global digital market with such minute R&D expenditures.

      4. Failure to close deals with DoCoMo , China Mobile and Hunderds of others that would bring Apple’s distribution so it is competitive with Samsung’s worldwide.

      5. Despite all the cash Cook failed to grab a position in Sharp last year when Sharp was down and out . Samsung jumped in and grabbed a 3% equity position in Sharp for next to nothing ($110 mln). Sharp has the advanced display technology OGLV and the only factory in the World that can produce these advanced displays. Instead Apple continues to buy displays from Samsung? Procurement 101 tells you never to buy critical components from a serious competitor. I thought Cook was supposed to be a supply chain guru?

      I could go on and on but unless Cook has 2 or 3 “game changers” to release between August and October he may very well go down as the man who wrecked America’s once greatest corporation.

    3. Jay: We understand your concerns. I wish, I have a magic wands, APPL instantly goes up $600 today. What can we do now?. Asking WS, hedge fund managers stop manipulating AAPL?. or ask Apple fires Cook?. Need a realistic solution.

      1. Answer:

        1) Tim to step down from CEO and resume supply manager.
        2) Put Scott Forstall in charge of Apple and steer IOS better.
        3) Give us iTV now and iPad mini with true phone capability.
        4) Apple TV to allow installations of games.
        5) Allow OSX to accept and run iOS apps
        6) Improve and push Siri to the max.
        7) Kill this idea of iWatch unless it is a smartphone all on its own.
        8) Buy up better tech companies and be transparent about who they purchase.
        9) let the rumours leak, it was exciting, give us a glimpse of the future in speculations, that have some truth
        10) ads informing why iOS is better than Android

        1. Apple the under dog, the rebel, the passion for simplicity, the hero of innovation; has not blown my mind since iPhone. Those days will never be repeated. iPad was a larger running iOS device, not a revolution, though people do love it. Apple sort of had a fluke lets say. They gambled and risked going with a smartphone.

          Siri is a wonderful technology and concept. It could be pushed further to a real full fledged graphic-less UI or a happy mix, but a better assistance then it is now. Burn some intelligence on to a chip. Lets see Siri go without internet for most functions. Maybe it does already. Howabout buying Yahoo? That might shock the market upwards. But I think Cook has made some real major errors and he needs to step down – not leave.

  4. When the marketing guy takes over the design duties of the company, it’s dead. Apple DCW – dead company walking.

    There’s no nuance, no spirit, no sparkle to iOS 7. It’s derivative in every way to Android & Windows Phone 8. Nothing original was created. But then again, it’s the marketing team, what do you expect? They’re no Steve Jobs, that’s for sure.

    iOS 7 sucks donkey balls.

  5. What a tempest in a teacup.
    1. The marketing department that comes up with Apple’s graphic design for web and packaging and advertising is a completely valid source for icon design. What? You think software and electrical engineers are icon designers?
    2. iOS 7 is BETA. There is plenty of time for icon and font tweaking.
    3. The core functionality elements of iOS 7 are far more important.
    4. Picking on icons is a lazy way to evaluate the changes coming to iOS 7. Pundits just don’t want to work to dig deep to understand the more technical additions and improvements.


    1. I was just surprised at the design source stated in the article—IF it’s the truth. Seems very unlikely and odd to me because Ive is so picky about everything.

      I am not passing personal judgment good or bad until the iOS is in my own phone and I’ve used it for awhile.

  6. “I think there is a bit of a ploy at play with iOS 7 altogether—and the target is Android. On the Android and Me blog, Dustin Earley suggests that Apple’s new design could hurt Android merely by keeping developers occupied…”

    That is SO funny. That’s what Ive and Apple spent time “cooking up?” There is a whole article with this logic? And we should click to read it. That’s the writers logic?

    MDN why do you link to this stuff?

    1. give me a stinking break…

      Siri still is in beta, its been troubling but wise to label so
      Maps should have been labeled also beta
      iOS7 beta? Ok but that was a glimpse of Apple future – if not we all are about to be hoodwinked.

      1. Absolutely right, in every particular, you are.

        Allow, though, that the visionary design guru Jony Ive has been assigned the daunting challenge to undo the old knots tied by legacy engineer Scott Forstall and condoned by craftsmanship devotee Steve Jobs. It will take time to undo all the damage, replace all the cruft. Ive has been handed the authority to do so and is probably already contemplating how to implement the next stage, or beyond, of what I believe he thinks of as the reinvention of Apple.

        We may suffer in the meantime, impatient with the beggarly pace of unfolding glory. Or we may grieve for past glory and turn to Android and Windows for refreshment. Myself, I can continue to make a living with whatever’s out there. But it’s tough to give up the old gods. I look for signs that Apple is up to something new, and I see them.

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