Why Jony Ive’s rumored flat iOS 7 design is a smart move for Apple’s future

Sections: iPhone OS, SDK and hacks, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, Rumors

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Flat iOS 7 mockup

iOS 7 concept design from Simply Zesty Limited

Apple’s iOS currently operates on all of the company’s touchscreen devices, including the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The popular mobile operating system was introduced with the iPhone in 2007, and has been updated annually to add new features such as Multi-Tasking, Folders, and Notification Center. However, Apple’s latest version, iOS 6 was the update that caused the most problems for its users. iOS 6 had the most glitches of any previous version of iOS, and was plagued with bugs that compromised the security of users.

With the update, Apple introduced an entirely new Maps app which was the result of the Cupertino company removing Google services from its OS. And although Siri had been introduced in iOS 5, users continued to report that the service still wasn’t practical in iOS 6 when they needed it in real world situations such as driving or dictating messages while walking. The voice assistant often misspelled names and locations, and can’t always compute properly. As a result, users by now had deemed Siri a flop that did not live up to expectations.

This same thing happened with the new Maps app after it failed to provide proper location services and users realized the app lacked local public transportation information. The failure of iOS 6 ultimately led to the ousting of iOS chief Scott Forstall from the company, turning the reigns of iOS design over to Jony Ive: current SVP of Industrial Design. Jony has been rumored to be redesigning iOS 7—which will be announced at WWDC 2013—to include a “flat” design.

The flat design will reportedly include more use of black and white, which will replace some of the skeuomorphism seen in iOS. This includes some of the linen textures used, such as in the multitasking tray, and the background behind a web page in Safari. Ive also plans to flatten the app icons as well as the time bar in the lock screen in iOS 7. This is a very smart move by Apple for a number of reasons.

First off, they made the best choice by appointing Jony Ive to lead the iOS 7 design because nobody else at Apple will understand the design of the OS better than the man who designs the hardware. By appointing Jony Ive, Apple is continuing their push towards integrating hardware and software into one. Jony Ive’s decision for a “flat” design is also a wise move for the better of the company because of how it simplifies iOS again. iOS has essentially been the same since its introduction on the original iPhone. Much of Apple’s OS has a “shine” to it, and has the same gray color to it. In addition to this, many parts of iOS are being bombarded with skeuomorphic elements, such as the felt texture used in the GameCenter app, and the linen in multitasking. By choosing to include more black and white in place of the textures, Ive is setting iOS up for Apple’s future software and hardware ventures. Apple’s hardware is changing for the first time, with different screen sizes, the  all new Slate color, and new models of devices. So it is natural that the OS would change as well.

Apple has been falling behind in the smartphone market in recent months, and a redesigned OS—coupled with a new iPhone model—may help them regain some of the lost market share. This may be exactly what Apple has been searching for, especially since some of the company’s rumored product lines—such as the iWatch and television set—have not yet come to fruition.

Apple’s iOS 7 is still a long way off, as the public release will likely be in the fall when Apple normally introduces its next iOS lineup. However, as more reports begin to surface about Jony Ive and his flat iOS 7 design, it is becoming more apparent that Apple is looking towards the future and is taking into account that customers want a change and something new to work with. This is something that will help the company regain some of the customer trust that they have lost and will give them a fresh perspective on what lies ahead.

For more iOS 7 concept design images, visit

[Updated May 27, 2013 to change incorrect statement that Siri had been introduced in iOS 6.]

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  • Johir Qayum

    Really interesting article! I think your point about Apple appointing Jony Ive is very true. Apple is a company that thrives when its developing hardware and software. Look forward to more posts

    • Kaled Ali

      Hi Johir,

      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate you being a reader of AppleTell and checking out my posts. I will be writing some more pieces soon. Thanks for sticking with us.


  • Trollinista

    You missed the point. Jobs eschewed the computer “expert” that would call for flat icons. It was for total rookie new users, the kinds of folks who don’t write for blogs. Historically, pundits have been wrong about IOS.

  • Eddie

    Siri wasn’t introduced in iOS6.

    • Kirk Hiner

      Thank you, Eddie. My fault for not correcting that. We’ve updated the article accordingly.

  • JimH

    The real reason why Apple is going to more of a flat design has to do with two things…

    1. The current ui was looking pretty dated after being around since the first iphone.

    2. They’ll never admit it but they’re also responding to MS’s ui which has gotten good reviews and is slowly gaining a little traction. If Apple releases a ui with a similar look, it can help with taking the wind out of MS’s sails before they gain too much momentum. Apple has been very consumer focused but they’re sniffing the enterprise market because of MS’s trip ups.