Will app developers have to redesign their apps for iOS 7?

Launched last night to much fanfare, Apple's forthcoming iOS 7 for its iPhone and iPad mobile devices sees a radical departure from the interface conventions of previous versions of the platform. Gone are the heavy borders and chunky type in favour of an elegant fragility, simple iconography over pastel gradients and Helvetica Neue Ultra Light.

So does this mean that app developers are going to have to redesign their current app offerings to match iOS 7 – and how will the new iOS affect the design of future apps? We sat down with Brandwidth's Dean Johnson, ustwo's Shaun Tollerton and Zolmo's Ian Wharton to gauge their reactions.

DA: Overall, what do you make of iOS 7's design?

"It's a great piece of work, not entirely without flaws – but then what is? The monochrome elements are the most successful and add light line-weights and subtle transparency to good effect. Layered content makes a welcome comeback as the much heralded 'flat' redesign actually gave us depth.

"The introduction of Helvetica Neue Ultra Light as the system font just wouldn't work without a Retina screen so this will be a challenge on the current iPad Mini." Dean Johnson, vice president, Brandwidth Innovation Lab

"It's a welcome and exciting departure from the previous iOS style. However, I'm not a fan of the iconography at all." Shaun Tollerton, visual designer, ustwo

"In the iOS 7 video, Jony Ive said 'I think there is a profound and enduring beauty in simplicity'. By following that principle, Apple's physical product design is the most premium and inspiring in the world. It is influential and commands reverence.

"In its current form, I see little design that is profound or will endure in iOS7. Outside the finite world of interactive design however, it will be an attractive change." Ian Wharton, partner, Zolmo

DA: It seems a lot cleaner and more cheerful. Is this a good thing?

"We'll all spend hours playing with the simulated 3D effect on the home screen, and it's touches like this that make the quality time with our Apple kit even more rewarding. The full set of new Apple icons are less successful and would benefit from more consistency – and less exploration of the extremes of the RGB palette.

"I'm not a fan of the pinks, greens and blues or the camera icon. The colours might seem cheerful but they'll clash with most background images." DJ

"The UI looks and feels very precise and sharp, which helps create a clear and functional experience. A lot of the magic lives in the fluid animations, such as zooming in and out of apps when opening and closing them and the parallax effect on the home screen." ST

"The sentiment is perfect. As it stands, there is not enough poise or clarity to give the sentiment maximum value. Some screens have so little focus—to the point where I feel physical unease—but we should be commentating the trajectory, not the first iteration. Over the next three years, iOS 7 will be challenged, honed and perfected." IW

DA: Are you pleased to see the back of what-we've-been-callng-skeumorphic-design elements?

"It still has its place when adding character to certain products, but not for the main system of an innovative design-led global tech giant. It's a few years overdue, but better late than never." DJ

"There's nothing wrong with skeuomorphic design when done right, but Apple did go too far with some of their apps. So yes, I'm pleased to see the back of those. In a way the first six years of iOS acted as an introduction to this digitally authentic moment in iOS history." ST

"I loathe that word. I hope I meet the guy who introduced it into digital design vernacular. The original Game Center, Find my Friends, iBooks, iCal took the principle too far, without question. But when simplicity and 'flat' is equally pushed to the extreme, there is just as much chaos.

"The Control Center design for iOS 7 is an unforgivable demonstration. In 18 months time we might be a little more welcoming of some depth and warmth to these interfaces." IW

DA: Will you have to redesign or rejig any of your current apps to fit with the new look and feel?

"We won't need to but may want to. The new Apple dev kit elements will force our hand in a few places but most of our titles feature bespoke UI, such as our Doctor Who app's typewriter keyboard and toggle levers." DJ

"Including translucency and depth will be a fun challenge. App icons will also need to avoid bevelled edges as they'll look odd on the new rounder app icon shape, as well as having to work with the older iOS 6 app icon shapes." ST

"At Zolmo we have never used a standard OS component for our apps. They are products that were designed to stand in their own right, stable in their brand. As long as they still feel intuitive to use in relation to the rest of iOS, the design will stay the same.

I think our latest product, Touchfit, complements iOS 7 well. I hope we all recognise the constant shift of influence and exercise some equilibrium following iOS 7. To set trends, not needlessly follow them." IW

DA: Are there any new features that you think will make your current apps better or allow you to make better apps in the future?

"The increasing focus on music, with the introduction of iTunes Radio and the new graphic interface will fall in line beautifully with our new range of music apps and iBooks. Apple have taken 'inspiration' from great independent apps such and Clear and Figure, so it's time for developers to design and build the next big thing." DJ

"There are some new APIs to play with such as better background tasks, inter-app audio and location beacons for adding a whole new level of location awareness in apps." ST


Tomorrow we'll be speaking to designers and branding experts about their reaction to iOS 7 - and what influence it will have beyond Apple and apps.

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