Saturday, February 23, 2013

Flat Design, Functional Decline

One of the reasons the iOS 7 beta has gotten so much attention is that Apple completely redesigned the operating system this time around. It moved to a “flat” design that eschews the look and feel of real-life objects, and which is also much simpler and sleeker. This move away from the principles of skeuomorphic design actually began last year when Apple fired the head of iOS, Scott Forstall, and gave control over look and feel of the operating system to Sir Jony Ive. Ive was the man long responsible for the look and feel of the hardware of the iPhone. In that role he was a tremendous success. His deft hand has not translated quite as well to iOS. See also Apple's New iOS 7: What You Need To Know Now The design of iOS 7 reportedly hit delays earlier this year, leading many to wonder if it would be ready for its traditional announcement at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference in June. Apple indeed released iOS 7 beta to developers at the conference to general acclaim. But when users began to get their hands on the iOS 7 beta, reports were that the flat design had, well… fallen flat. Some criticized the icons as amateurish and cartoon-like, and rumors surfaced that Ive had let members of the Apple marketing team create icons in a rush to get the OS out the door for the WWDC announcement. Apple has since updated and upgraded those icons in subsequent versions of the iOS 7. Yet the rush to get iOS 7 in front of developers may have led to other problems. There are over 1,500 new software developer kit (SDK) packages within iOS 7. That is a lot to push on mobile developers all at once. Not all of them have worked well, causing developers (and non developers that gained access to the beta product) to experience more bugs that crashed apps and, at times, the entire phone. While beta software is always prone to such bugs, many developers have reported that the problems in iOS 7 beta have been worse than previous beta versions of the operating system.

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