Apple’s iOS 7 has finally washed its hands off the tacky skeuomorphic look and adopted the flat design. It is a giant leap ahead for Apple devices. And we just don’t mean the iPhones and iPads but futuristic devices such as iWatch, iTV, and even iCar. John Ive battled the odds to ensure that Apple’s mobile operating system iOS 7 got the much needed overhaul. But it was not an easy task. After all, Steve Jobs was allegedly a fan of skeuomorphism, as was iOS creator Scott Forstall (said to his protégé). But Jony Ive wasn’t a skeuomorphic fan resulting in what became the much touted skeuomorphic vs flat debate.
With Scott Frostall’s departure, it looked like the pro-flat design team outnumbered the skeuomorphic side. It was about time that the horribly outdated skeuomorphic look resembling real objects, gaudy gradients, and faux textures had to go. Trying to mimic real objects and mislead audience is clearly a thing of past. Instead, iOS 7 sports clean, simple, and two-dimensional interfaces. iOS 7 appreciates the fact that users are interacting with a flat screen and don’t need to be guided to push buttons.
There is no denying that the flat look aligns with Apple’s long-term goals and is not limited to smartphones and tablets. But Apple thinks big and thinks ahead of the curve. Back in June 2013, during the opening keynote of the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple announced iOS in the Car which allows iOS devices to work with manufacturers’ built-in in-car systems. iOS in the Car would allow to make quick calls, listen to music, send messages, and access maps from in-dash screen.
Well, and as it turns out that operating system designed to be flat design is much suitable to running on multiple devices compared to skeuomorphic designed system. While the visual design is almost similar to that of iOS 7 on the iPhone or iPad, its UI is strikingly different with big rectangular buttons. Obviously safety is the driving force. While iOS In The Car uses buttons of different shapes and sizes it is easy to quickly and safely push a button without taking your eyes off the road because all icons are flat.
The message is subtle yet clear. Apple is future-proofing its design with the flat look of its operating system. And iOS 7 is a step in the right direction.
Easy to adapt to new devices: iOS 7 icons can be expanded both vertically and horizontally. It is easy to fill the blank space with the colors on the edges, making it very easy for Apple to adapt visual language to new devices. Take for instance the long-rumored HDTV, Apple will not have to create entirely new icons for this new interface. Rather the flat design allows them to expand their existing icons to fit any shape effortlessly. This would have not been possible with the skeumorphic design. Imagine the complexity involved in interpreting complicated patterns, shadows, texture, and gradients for each new device.
Does not distort: Skeuomorphism looks strange and funny on curved displays. On the other hand, flat designs don’t distort. While all displays are flat right now, there is no denying that future display will come in all shapes and sizes. Iwatch is widely speculated to be curved. With flat UI, Apple has already prepared itself for future inventions be it curved or 3-D displays.
Wrapping up: Now that Apple has broken the shackles of skeuomorphism, iOS is clearly preparing to embrace the future. Be it curved display or HDTV, or groundbreaking gadgets, flat makes iOS’s design more adaptive to changes, futuristic, and agile.