Apple unveils iOS 7 software
designed by Jonathan Ive

| 48 comments

Apple unveils iOS 7 software designed by Jonathan Ive

News: Apple has revealed the design of iOS 7 - the highly anticipated first major user interface redesign since industrial designer Jonathan Ive was put in charge of both hardware and software design across the company.

Apple unveils iOS 7 software designed by Jonathan Ive
iOS 7 features new icons, leaner typography and a new colour palette

As expected, the new operating system unveiled today at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco features uncluttered interfaces and marks a distinct shift away from imitating physical materials like leather and wood, bringing the brand's software more in line with the pure and minimal style that Ive famously developed for its hardware. "We see iOS 7 as defining a important new direction, and in a way a new beginning," said Ive in a movie shown at the launch.

"I think there is a profound and enduring beauty in simplicity, in clarity, in efficiency," he continued. "True simplicity is derived from so much more than just the absence of clutter and ornamentation; it's about bringing order to complexity."

Apple unveils iOS 7 software design by Jonathan Ive
Parallax viewing makes it possible to see under and around icons

Distinct translucent layers of content are meant to help users maintain a sense of context while moving through the interface and a new "multitasking" feature means users can scroll between application windows without going back to the home screen.

Apple unveils iOS 7 software designed by Jonathan Ive
Layers give a sense of depth and context

"These planes combined with new approaches to animation and motion create a sense of depth and vitality," says Ive, adding that just changing the desktop picture affects the look and feel across the entire system.

Apple unveils iOS 7 software designed by Jonathan Ive
All native apps have been given a design overhaul with representations of fake wood, felt and leather removed

The team has redesigned all the icons, refined and pared back the typography, and implemented a new colour palette. "In many ways we tried to create an interface that is unobtrusive and deferential, one where the design recedes and in doing so actually elevates your content," Ive concluded.

Apple unveils iOS 7 software designed by Jonathan Ive
Multitasking allows users to flick between application windows without returning to the home screen

Anticipation over the visual overhaul has been mounting since Ive was appointed head of the new Human Interface team at Apple in October, and experts have been predicting a move towards cleaner edges and flat surfaces over the textures and faux materials that came to characterise Apple's software design.

Apple unveils iOS 7 software designed by Jonathan Ive
Shadows have been removed to flatten messaging bubbles and buttons

In recent years Apple has been ridiculed for its skeuomorphic approach to software design - where digital applications are made to mimic real-world objects such as leather-effect diaries and timber-style bookshelves - and at Dezeen Live last September designer Yves Behar discussed the gulf between Apple's hardware and software design.

Apple unveils iOS 7 software designed by Jonathan Ive
Typography has been cleaned up and pared back

"Obviously they didn’t go there with the hardware so why did they go there with the software? It’s a really good question," he said. "There's now many companies looking at it in a way that's quite interesting and Apple actually is a little bit behind in that area."

Apple unveils iOS 7 software designed by Jonathan Ive
Animations in the weather app make hail stones bounce off text and mist seep through it

A month later Apple brought its hardware and software design teams closer together under the leadership of British designer Jonathan Ive - who was already responsible for the minimal engineering of its product design - as part of a management shakeup that also saw the departure of Scott Forstall, the senior vice president of iOS software and a strong proponent of skeuomorphism.

Apple unveils iOS 7 software design by Jonathan Ive
A grid was used to bring harmony to icons, which have all been redesigned

Apple was named best design studio and best brand of the past 50 years by D&AD last year and is due to move to a new Foster + Partners-designed campus in 2016, though the project was recently reported to be $2 billion over budget.

Dezeen also briefly featured in the demo today, and last year Dezeen featured in the launch of the iPhone 5 and the new MacBook Pro.

Apple unveils iOS7 software designed by Jonathan Ive
Apple featured Dezeen again in a demo at today's keynote

See all our stories about Apple design »

  • Gregor

    I smell lawsuits in the air tonight!

  • MichaelJ

    I love you, Dezeen, but this title is a bit misleading. Ive is the consumate team member — as well as a brilliant designer, obviously – and directed the design of the OS.

    Saying he designed it sounds callous to all those who worked for him and Apple to make it real. It does not represent him well and as a big fan of his, it rubs me the wrong way. Still love you though!

    • Bob

      When he is the boss, when he fires anyone disagreeing with him… He not only designed it, he owns it. And as a customer, I am not happy with his user interface.

      I like detail, I like seeing shades and I like seeing textures. What Ive’s has given us, is devoid of character and devoid of the signature which has been apple. Stability.

      If you want flat and mass marketed user interfaces, then Android was where you should have gone…

      Either way, apple now needs to fix their mistake and innovate a new solution. That solution is swallowing their pride and giving we the users the power to change the interface, because they cannot be trusted to give us a interface we like and that a new users can use.

  • olgv

    Looks like Windows Vista on an iPhone, designed by a teenager learning gradients in Illustrator.

    • Lucie

      Completely agree. Just going down to meet number two on its bland plateau.

    • jay

      Agree – had to turn off all the gradients and transluscency on old Windows laptop (it looked dated when new as well) to make it usable without feeling nauseous. Apple are always so pleased with themselves and their toy-town aesthetics – how about sorting out the functionality?

  • Daniel

    iOS has been in dire need of a refresh and I think this looks good. They’ve finally caught up with what other mobile operating systems have been doing. Though admittedly, some things are a little too similar.

  • http://lol.com omnicromcrom

    My first thought was how Android-esque it is – in a good way. Reminds me of the Miui interface which is, of course, inspired by iOS. Now if we could get over all this without the patent lawsuits and just continue to make nice stuff, building on each others’ work, that’d be great.

    • aye aye

      Especially after Apple suing the shnitzel out of Samsung.

    • John

      "Reminds me of the Miui interface which is, of course, inspired by iOS."

      How? That statement makes no sense at all to me. MIUI looks nothing like iOS 7 or 1-6

      • http://hum.com rawr.

        I'm sorry but it clearly is; you must be blind.

  • pizzaface

    Looks like how it should have been five years ago. Now everyone applauds
    Apple for getting around to releasing something that was so obvious in the first place. This is not innovation. It is correcting the horrible direction they were heading in.

  • ber

    Judging on images from other websites, the UI looks rather flimsy and mishmashy to me. Icons are inconsistent (as outline, filled, within a circle, within a rounded square). Weak visual hierarchy. As a way to differentiate it from other competitors, the UI doesn’t work (yet).

    • 4reivax

      Gosh, I agree. Though I have to say general UI looks pretty okay, the icons are completely inconsistent, not to say just wrong.

  • http://michaelwigle.com Michael

    Massimo Vignelli applied his grid whenever making design decisions like this to bring harmony to design. This is bringing clarity from ugliness. This really lets the technology get out of the way of the user.

    It’s an interface like this that doesn’t seem dated, but in fact appears timeless. Ives’ team really hit their stride with this.

  • http://twitter.com/ThierryBrunfaut @ThierryBrunfaut

    After Dieter Rams, Otl Aicher? Is Apple’s new iOS 7 a replay of the Munich 1972 Olympics graphics? http://bit.ly/168EBqR

    • http://www.aescht-berthold.com fab

      Quite clearly so. It was my first thought too. Otl Aicher is an excellent role model though.

  • SMKH

    Personally, I loved the leather stitching on the calendar. It was different and pleasant. So now “success” means “catching up” with other operating systems? If I wanted to look at Android icons, I’d go buy an Android phone.

    • fred

      Completely agree.

    • Bee

      What’s an android icon look like? Android phones are UI customisable and can have many different types of icons, including iOS. Just shows that iOS users don’t know what they are missing because they are dazzled by the idea of Apple.

      All of the “innovations” on the new iOS seem a bit behind the curve. Multitasking, auto app updates, desktop images changing the look of other screens. Wow, that’s just the tip of the iceberg for Android devices. And it’s old news.

    • Bob

      I am with you there. As a computer graphic artist, detail never gets in the way of usability. Anyone blaming a Icon for the user not to be able to navigate the interface, has failed to understand that the interface was broken and not the icons.

      The blinding white light with line art remind me of the bad science fiction of the 70s.

  • Matthew Perkins

    Overall, there looks to be a much-needed enhancement of general functionality; though as a designer I find much of the new interface flawed from a usability standpoint.

    The text they showed in the Mail app looks to be a nice change; yet most of the icon and button text is very difficult to read at a glance, particularly for those with eyesight challenges. I find that the complete abandon of all shadows and textures leaves me with the wonder of what is actually active in any given interface; as well as what is truly a button verses just an informative graphic.

    Don’t get me wrong: there was overkill in the Scott Forestall vision, yet an instant change to the opposite extreme is a mistake in my humble opinion.

    If Jobs were here, I am certain we would not have seen the preview of iOS 7 as it was shown yesterday.

    I am an industrial designer and have always had a respect for the products which Jonathan Ive has been involved with. Unfortunately, it seems he has forgotten where his strengths lie and tried to make our daily interface interactions appear as a product design review presentation, which will initially have some wow factor, but will quickly become disappointing in the long-run usability factors.

  • M

    For a first attempt, this is looking good.

    Although if one was to be functionally critical, one would argue graphically what does the gradient fill do, in the icons that Apple used them in? For example, the background of the speech bubble for the message icon could just be flat green.

    The great thing is though, now apple has a clear direction where they want to take this. Apple OS simply hasn’t had a real graphical update for as many years as they have produced iPhones.

  • Josh

    I new that eventually the new influx of Windows users would destroy the amazing design work at Apple. To be completely honest I’m shocked that Ives is connected to this design in any way, it’s easily the worst looking iOS to date.

    Now I have to pray that evasion are going to reconsider breaking 6.1.3, otherwise it will be my last update along with Snow Leopard and iTunes. I really hate where this company is going. The masses always destroy everything of value.

  • Steven

    Apple’s new icon system: people love it, designers hate it.

  • Stephen

    It’s great that the antiquated iPhone OS design has had an overhaul, but what about the Mac OS?

    I can barely stand using applications like Mail and Address Book without cringing at how badly they’re designed!

    Has Apple completely forgotten the interfaces of it’s personal computers in the mad rush to catch up in mobile computing?!

  • JayCee

    I particularly enjoyed how Jonathan Ive is now going by the uber-americanised nom-de-douchebag of "Jony" Ive in the official presentation video.

  • bee

    iOS 7 – Android adjusted to "easy mode" on the Samsung Galaxy 4.

  • RPublic

    Just seems more suited to consumer tastes and less pro looking – the last release of the Podcasts app was a good example of the look I’m talking about.

  • naishh

    Once a leader, Apple’s turning out to be a follower.

    • Guest

      Come on! They were ALWAYS followers! They were genius in selling and marketing but NEWER in inventing. In fact they were proud of stealing ideas – “Good artists copy, great artists steal” – Steve J.

  • xaxo

    Windows Phone 8 reincarnated in iOS 7: typography based design, flatness, multitasking, even the calculator looks the same! Apple is the most overrated company ever.

  • Jeroen

    Apple is really pushing the limits in contrast between information and background. On a sunny day the Weather app is probably unreadable. Wonder what impact this change of course has on other products like OS X. Dislike the visual style, but do appreciate the behavioral details of the design.

  • theo

    Colors seem really garish and distracting. No sense of gestalt – each icon should immediately communicate what it is about with the least extra information.

  • NNNN

    Well it’s clean and slick enough, but the icons are like stock clipart or something. They should’ve employed Google’s icon artist to do it for them.

  • Perry

    The very thing that founder Steve Jobs introduced into Apple’s products, which defined them, made them work and was emulated by others, is now being dispensed with by new corporate board. Is it a coincidence that when Jobs left Apple all those years ago they began to flounder and on his return they re-emerged stronger than ever.

    I wonder if his untimely death will see them once again lose their grip and their way in terms of strategy and creative thinking, and is this the first step noticable step along that path?

  • betarice

    Why change?

    I hate people that want new looks all the time.
    They often put grease in their hair to make it look attractive.

    • Chilinga

      All the time? iOS hasn’t really changed at all since iOS1… Maybe now is the time to move forward.

  • Chris

    Ugly, minimal for the sake of it? No personality, the phone is our mini world, it has replaced things in the real world precisely because it still felt familiar. Luxurious textures get me any day over a boring overuse of fine weight fonts. How do we tell apart the icons now? Crap.

  • Steve

    I have a screenshot of the iOS 7 home screen that I keep opening and staring at. I love it.

    Smart phones have quickly reached a point where they are all pretty similar in their function. Like cars it will be the design (and materials) that will be the differentiator in future.

    I can remember when Jonathan Ive designed the first iMac; translucent white and blue plastic. Fast forward to today’s hardware and see how much more refined it is. With software, changes can be implemented a lot quicker.

    The important thing is that a new set of rules for software design and function have been created. Clarity, Deference, and Depth are the new themes.

    When people talk of iOS 7 icons, about gradients, about inconsistency – take a look at those iOS 6 icons. At least in the new design there is a fresh approach. I want large variations in icons so that I can quickly find the app I am after.

    I, for one, am looking forward to the release date.

  • http://www.walnutgreydesign.com/ Mr Walnut Grey

    Quite simply – I love it! Looking forward to the update :-) And well done Dezeen for featuring again!

  • http://www.heterarchy.co.uk Tony

    I think it's a shame to lose the personality of the old interface, I do understand what people are saying about the fake materials thing but I can't help but find it quite charming. In my view the old interface provided a counterpoint to the minimalism of the devices themselves, whereas this just looks a bit flat and basic.

  • Gavin

    Why has it become so popular to slam Apple at every opportunity? Not so many years ago, the design community loved them. Everything they touched turned to gold while they were the underdog, and it was fashionable to be in the minority who had “discovered” them.

    Now Apple have became more mainstream, the pretentious sheep of the world have decided to pan them. Can’t people see that if Apple and Samsung are struggling to make the same leaps forward we’ve become accustomed to, it’s a sign that the general standard of their products is high? Get over yourselves!

  • http://www.eightinc.com Tim

    Will never miss the warm leatherette or the other literal interpretations of the old (analog) world in my Apple digital space. The new design is cleaner but not substantially better nor frankly remarkable. Sadly underwhelming considering the time and energy needed to change. Apple is improving but is it the leader in the interface of the category it invented? Android still is lame but honestly MS8 is the most fresh and user-friendly interface now. Too bad the old MS users can't handle the change.

  • Walter

    Being an old Android user, I switched to iOS because of reliability and speed. iOS 7 introduces Android functions that I had to live without after making the switch, so I’m really looking forward to iOS 7.

    Besides, I don’t see what’s wrong in removing the analog feel from a digital device. If that kind of customisation is an issue, switch to Android and you will be free to customize your UI. The trade-off in having a highly customisable OS is choice vs. stability.

  • Carmen Gonzalez

    I find the flatness of the icons difficult to read at first glance. They aren’t as bad as Googles, which are abstracted to the point of meaningless, but they certainly go in that direction.

    I agree with the newness for newness’ sake comments. Usability aspects of design should change as we have greater insights, not before.

  • rburger

    If the intent of the redesign was to move away from referencing real world objects and textures then why are the apps still shaped like keyboard keys on a mac?

    The redesign seems to be trying to find a compromise between the old design standard and a fundamental rethinking of how information is displayed on a touch screen interface. Removing depth of field shadows and analog textures does not make it an innovative design; it just makes the interface less functional.

    Jonathan Ive played it safe with this one.

    • Ada

      Not a single comment here mentions the fact that Apple has to produce shareholder value by releasing new devices regularly. Consider what is actually “new user experience” on the hardware. Pretty much nothing except fingerprint recognition.

      You can’t convince people to upgrade just with that. By pretending to have a “major update” in the OS via new UI design, Apple is simply practicing marketing. It’s design for the sake of sales, not for the sake of invention.

      I hope they improve the autocorrect.