As many of you know, Apple has announced their newest update to iOS, and is currently well on its way to being ready for the fall release. Many aspects of the changes made in iOS 7 have been received quite well, both by the press and public. Though that’s not to say that there hasn’t been some tension as well. Many well established graphic designers have come forth to voice their displeasure with some of the choices made in the update. Most of the complaints have been about the icons and font weights. Khoi Vinh of Lascaux Co. shared some very insightful thoughts on On The Verge that definitely reflected the general consensus.
Complaints aside, one term I’ve heard thrown around quite often when discussing iOS 7 is the word “flat”. Mainly, comments stating that “Apple has flattened iOS”. I want to touch on this to discuss whether or not we should consider iOS 7 to be a “flat” OS.
First off, I will accept that the content within the native applications that Apple has shown off are definitely flatter than the iOS 6 counterparts. This is natural considering that Apple has made a conscious decision to give attention to the OS as a pixel-based environment, ridding it of its real world skeuomorphic details. The absence of life-like textures and buttons have pushed the design to feel flatter because this is a requirement to make the OS feel like something that truly belongs on a screen.
Though my main point of interest lies not in the native application environments, but rather the entire OS as a whole. If you dissect iOS 7, you’ll find three main “organs” that make up the body. The overlay, the content, and the background. These three pieces are what make iOS 7’s truly unique design. First of all there is a parallax-based relationship between the background layer and the content layer (content being either the app icons on the home screen or an open application). This adds a new layer of depth never before seen on iOS. Second, there’s a gaussian-based relationship between the content layer and the overlay (the overlay being Notification Center, Control Center, and the keyboard). Now the two upper layers have a sense of transparency to allow the user to see through the entire OS all the way to the background when on the home screen. Best way to experience it? Pull open Control Center, and tilt the iPhone to view the parallax affect the gaussian blur.
This level of depth cannot be described as flat. This redesign is leaps and bounds deeper than iOS 6 was. I think the best way the put it is, iOS 6 extruded some elements while iOS 7 added depth. There’s been a trade-off of stitches popping off the screen to make way for deep layers that really make the phone feel like the Tardis. With all that said, iOS 7 isn’t flat, and I’m sticking by that.