The minimalist design of iOS7 is sheer genius

The minimalist design of iOS7 is sheer genius

Summary: More attention has been paid to the new iPhones than iOS7 since the launch of both. The more I use iOS7 the more I realize how important it is.

TOPICS: Mobility, Apple, iOS, iPad
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Today lock screen -- Images: James Kendrick/ZDNet

When iOS7 first was announced a lot was said about the minimalist design. Many put forth how it is a step backward and others downright hated it. Since it's release I have been using it heavily on both an iPad mini and an iPad and I've come to realize the design of iOS7 is sheer genius.

My appreciation of the simpler design of iOS7 didn't happen right away. It's grown the more I use it and especially the more I use other platforms and come back to iOS7.

See related: Mystery: The missing iOS7 keyboard

I've always liked efficient UI designs but never felt as strongly about them until now. It took me a while to figure out why I find iOS7 to be so good to use, and it surprised me when it hit me what makes it so good.

The clean design of iOS7 gets out of my way when I'm using it. Completely. No matter which iOS7 app I use, the interface doesn't interfere with the information I've requested. It doesn't matter if I'm using Calendar, Notes, Safari, or any other iOS7 app, it's as if the interface pulls way back and focusses my attention on the information on display. That's significant because in every case, that's the information I want.

Calendar event
Calendar event

The simple interface displayed on a crisp, white background is attractive, but it also prevents the UI from overwhelming the importance of the data requested. Whether I ask for a web page, calendar, note, or reminder, it is presented front and center without distraction.

Not everyone will agree with that but that's the way I see it the more I use it. This is an effective UI design as a result. 

Note that I am referring to the app interface design and not the home screen icons. Those are OK but icons are icons. How they look doesn't affect how enjoyable using a device might be for me. But app interface is one of the most important features an OS provides, and Sir Jony Ive hit a homerun with iOS7.


Read more on iOS 7:

Topics: Mobility, Apple, iOS, iPad

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  • Now at least give some credit to Microsoft ..

    They were the first to give full screen, content first and minimal interface in Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.

    Unfortunately not sure what is your contract, but you never could say Surface is better for productivity but touted how everyone needs to have keyboard with iPad

    Need to grow up, and not be afraid to call good as good and bad as bad
    • re: they were the first

      Except this is not true.
      • Come on danbi...

        ...let it slide. No one says that Apple or Google(they're redesigning as well) copied Metro to the "letter". MS for once has introduced a rather slick and modern design trend. Even Pogue was caught off guard by it when he first saw it; coming from MS, no way. Does your ego as an Apple fan suffer so much for giving a nod to MS ?

        PS: Behind closed doors I think that Apple itself likes MS' bold Metro design.
        • Could be true, Ghest

          I know Steve Wozniak sang it's praises early on, though still preferring iPhone/iOS a little bit more.

          A mixture of both for Apple's next OS made sense.
          William Farrel
        • Re: Does your ego as an Apple fan suffer so much for giving a nod to MS ?

          You are wrong on both fronts:

          1. I am not an Apple fan; and
          2. I do not like the Metro design. Therefore, no nods for those who designed it (which might, or might not be Microsoft - I don't really care)

          Further, Apple's new design for iOS 7 is not anything like Microsoft's Metro (or whatever it is called today). It is just an replacement for the former Apple skeumorfic design. It moves the design from stylized bitmaps to vector graphics, unlike Microsoft's typography based design.

          It is sad that you guys are so blinded by fanboy hatred that you can't see the obvious cues. Or, you just can't see these things and hide behind the fanboy talk. Whatever.

          The (computing) world is bigger than both Apple and Microsoft.
      • Lipstick

        In many cases Apple just put a lipstick on a pig.

        Safari's back and forth buttons and the address bar are hard to reach. In iOS 7 this didn't change. Apple added transparency and merged the search and address fields, eliminating the .com button on the keyboard in the process.

        Compare it to "at your fingertips" UI of metro version of IE. You just swipe left and right to go to previous or next page; the address bar is at the bottom, easy to reach when you need it.

        Back and forth buttons in the Mail app are located badly, too. In portrait orientation, your fingers cover the From and Subject lines that are important when you go through multiple emails.

        Keyboard changes from blindingly white to very dark seemingly at random, which makes it hard to adapt to, while it stays the same in older apps.

        The entire screen dims when a pop up dialog is displayed, which is, well, distracting.

        For the most part, this "genius" design feels like more like an application of the current fashion to make everything white, flat and very thin. At the same time, more fundamental usability issues are not addressed. And a lot of bugs introduced.
        • Layers of lipstick

          Here is a good example of sour apples "genius" design: brightness control.

          Open up the control center by swiping from the bottom up. Brightness control is at your fingertips. Genius. (Never mind that it's the same as in Windows 8, you just swipe from the right side there) But... in iOS 7 the entire screen is now dimmed, making it impossible to adjust brightness to just the right level.

          I will take skeuomorphism over this nonsense any time, thank you.
      • Exactly; full-screen UI was first in Apple's OS X

        The subject.
        • Umm

          No it wasn't, it was the first really well done version but, it wasn't the first time it has ever been done. Some User Interfaces had nothing but full screen modes with little floating icons for the settings. Also, some applications used this feature.
        • Maximize button

          Was there in Windows 3.0, long before Windows 95 or XP. Many Windows applications had full screen mode for a long time, too. When did the "really we'll done" full screen version appeared in Mac OS?

          The new modern Windows interface has roots in Zune HD UI. Apple envied Microsoft since 2009.
    • boy if that's the criteria

      Better hand those kudos to Gary Kildall.... Nothing more minimalist and full screen than CP/M
      • right?

        Or Unix shell, or Dos!
    • Seriously?

      Please somebody show me these examples? I have seen nothing in this update that says it was unique to Windows 8, RT, or Windows Phone 8 before Apple used it here. I do see some things that were in other mobile systems before and although they're not done exactly the same, the influence clearly was there.
      • Windows Media Center in 2001

      Windows Media Center was the first consumer kiosk like application with a clean design language that I can recall. IMHO, that has evolved to the Zune UI -> Windows Phone -> Android Holo / Windows 8 -> iOS 7. WMC was released in January 2001.
  • Sheer Genius...really.

    Wow, now Microsoft uses this design for years and its just blah. Now that it comes from Apple its Sheer Genius... I'm just speechless and the Apple juice everyone is drinking. I mean come one "Sheer Genius", really!
    • what design?

      I hear this over and over again but continue to know of any evidence that it is actually true.

      iOS 7 bears no significant resemblance to Windows... The design language is quite different. We're told, "oh but full screen apps!" Um iPad apps have always been full screen! Not that's any big thing... So were DOS apps.
      • Yes!

        I don't know "Metro" at all so let's see some comparison screens if iOS7 is such a copy.

        BTW, in regards to Metro, I know that many Apple bloggers (Gruber, etc.) have been quite complimentary.
      • Bizarre but

        This is bizarre but, I agree with you on this one.

        Concepts that existed before Windows 8 were copied but, nothing is a direct copy in iOS.
  • Its only genius if Apple does it

    It is true that the "metro" design paradigm, now called "modern" was created by Microsoft. To deny so is utter ignorance. The "new" design of iOS 7 is so reminiscent of my Nokia Windows Phone 8 it is striking. Their idea was "content, not chrome" and as a designer I personally love it. Apple is stale, old, and tired, and now it is Microsoft who is actually innovating. Apple is the new Microsoft and vice versa. Being the third phone ecosystem has forced MS to recreate themselves. But, if you still think its the 90's and its still cool to hate Microsoft, go ahead, knock yourself out.