Hands-on with iOS 7 – Snowblind

Sections: Features, iDevice Apps, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, iPod touch, Opinions and Editorials

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See, all this time, I thought the main thing about iOS 7 was going to be the color. The iPhone 5c is about the color. The parallax effect and dynamic wallpapers are achieved with color. The flat icons use color to striking effect. But the apps…have you launched Calendar yet? Contacts? Music? I haven’t seen this much white on one screen since Friends went off the air.

iOS 7 CalendarI get that no one at Apple was happy with the whole skeuomorphism thing. A tiny iPhone app shouldn’t look like its real life counterpart, after all, especially considering it doesn’t work the same way. Your iPhone calendar doesn’t behave like a desktop calendar, so there’s no reason it should look like one. But at least with the skeuomorphic thing, I new where the menu ended and content began. Now, the Calendar app is an unattractive mess of black, gray and blinding white, with some red thrown in to make sure we’re reminded to give blood every six weeks.

There are subway maps that are more attractive to the eye than Calendar is, and easier to read.

Contacts is almost as bad, but with a sterile looking blue replacing the warning light red. I guess that’ll help me remember which app I’m in, because the flat white background could otherwise be confused with Calendar, Notes, Reminders, Mail, even Game Center. I like the little outline icons used in each, but I prefer for my user interface to actually be an interface, not a rough sketch on a napkin.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh. This complete and total lack of design worked for Google, after all…or is that my issue with it? That may actually be the problem. Having nothing to look at worked for Google’s search engine because the whole point was to get out of it and into something better. But with Apple’s Apps, the point is stay there for a bit, enter the information you need, and be able to retrieve it easily. I’m not sure the new design is conducive to that when I have to stare at tiny dots and letters and symbols to figure out what’s a menu item and what’s hidden behind it, if anything.

This isn’t the end of the world, of course, and it in no way means iOS 7 is a failure. There’s plenty to like, and we’ll be covering a lot of it in the coming days here at AppleTell. But if Apple doesn’t give us a UI update soon to make the content in their apps discernible, I’ll be quickly moving on to better alternatives.

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  • SadFan

    Agreed about the excessive use of white, especially in some instances with a thinner font.

    Huge fan of Mr. J. Ives, but there are few patterns for your eye to distinguish, especially when scanning in a hurry.

    Our company is exclusively Apple, but this is the first time in 10 years that I have seriously questioned / been concerned with the esthetic and usability direction of an Apple product’s interface.

    Some functionality improvement are good, but personally I think this release of iOS7 will open the door for the competition. I have perfect vision, but when it is hard to see things with all the white under some (many) lighting conditions, there is something amiss.

  • Tg917

    You can’t be serious. It is beautifully designed.

    Have you seen the interesting font choices you made for your logo and your menu navigation?

    It is clear to me that good design is foreign to you.

    • Kirk Hiner

      Well, I didn’t personally make those decisions, but even as they are, it’s clear on this site where the menu ends and the content begins. Apple wouldn’t need to mess up their app designs in order to make that a bit more clear in iOS 7.

  • Dewulf

    Do me a favor, use the new calendar and iOS for a week and then open the old iOS again… It will look like a dinosaur. Yes the new iOS is bright, yes it is white, but it is very modern, clear and straightforward. The screens seem to be much more natural once you get used to them. Post again after a week, please 😉

    • Kirk Hiner

      Indeed, we’ll see if my attitude changes after more use. I did post on Twitter that this update instantly made me feel like the last time I launched my iPhone was in 1995…Apple updates tend to make everything previous feel dated even though you were happy with them just hours before. But I still think their move from skeuomorphism is quite drastic, and the new interface is too sterile. We’ll see if I grow used to that.

  • Jj

    There is entirely too much white for me. There should be an option to change the colors. This is a recipe for eye fatigue, not to mention a nightmare for the visually impaired.