There are a lot of clever ideas and nice designs in this iOS 7 “concept” by Philip Joyce of design firm Simply Zesty. But they’re only clever and nice in the abstract, as possible designs for a touchscreen phone interface. Nice and clever though they are, this would be a disaster as a new design for the actual iPhone. A new look is one thing (and we’re going to get it), but when you’re well established and have a large user base, as iOS does, you need to maintain familiarity. If users are asking “What is this? Where am I? Where’s all the stuff I’m used to?” it’s going to be a disaster. (Mac OS X 10.0 was just such a radical do-over, and it was successful in the long term. But the first few years were a slow and painful transition for existing Mac users. iOS doesn’t need that sort of jolt.)
And certain of Joyce’s details are oddly tone-deaf branding-wise. The shape of app icons is not going to change from round-cornered squares to sharp-cornered ones (or any other shape for that matter). Apple owns this shape; this shape says “iOS app” in everyone’s mind. It’s even printed right on the hardware home button of every iOS device. In fact it’s the only thing printed on the front face of every iOS device. And just look at the WWDC 2013 logo. (I’ve long thought we won’t see apps and an App Store for Apple TV until some future hardware revision of the product with a much-better remote control; it occurs to me now that that remote will surely have a home button with the universal empty app icon on it.) And his font choices — yikes. Frutiger (or whatever Frutiger-like typeface he’s using) makes the whole thing look more like a Windows Phone 9 concept than an iOS one. It’s like iOS re-imagined by someone who doesn’t like iOS. Hard for me to see how this is getting praised like this.
His animations and transitions do show how going “flatter” doesn’t necessarily mean eliminating playfulness, though.
★ Friday, 10 May 2013