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UX/UI Review: My thoughts on iOS 7

Preface: I realize this post is somewhat late in its arrival, especially due to the fact that iOS 7 has been thoroughly dissected by everyone and their mothers at this point. Regardless, I write this post in a cathartic effort to rid myself of frustrations I’ve genuinely had with the latest of Apple’s big redesigns, and not simply to jump on a bandwagon.

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I really do love the design direction with iOS 7. It’s relevant and allows Apple to remain competitive.

Thank god someone at Apple pushed this through–the pre-iOS 7 iPhone UI was becoming too boring and, overtime, dampened the excitement of having an iPhone. I assumed that Samsung’s Galaxy S4 lit a fire under Apple and pushed designers to make the iPhone feel competitive and have the same allure that newer phones now use to their advantage. Can we call it insecurity? Whatever it was, it was definitely needed. Every brand should innovate at least ONCE every year or two. This is how you stay competitive. You can definitely provide a streamlined UX and remain innovative and fresh so that your customers enjoy their purchase. This might sound like a lot of work but updates are being rolled out much more frequently now than ever before. Don’t believe it? Check out Microsoft’s gradual iteration of their Xbox UI–they roll out pretty substantial updates to the dashboard about every 6 months! They are never done, and this is how it should be.

Anyhow…

The iOS 7 UI feels unbound by extraneous boxes and lines, font is super thin and light, the colour scheme dares to be vibrant, and transparency is used in good taste as a way to layer different elements. There’s also a new way to cancel apps running on your device, as well as a new way of navigating through pages in linear flows (only supported by select apps at the moment). It’s called SWIPING and it’s fun. Other nice features include the dynamic wallpapers and background app refresh–and the clock icon that’s hands move in real-time.

UX-wise: The design tries to be responsive and dynamic while also incorporating a lot of new trends that are current to digital design at the moment. The device suddenly feels alive and doesn’t take away from usability. The removal of excessive lines, boxes, and drop shadows visually communicates that interactivity does not have specific parameters. This is clear when you ‘slide to unlock’ and are able to make that swipe higher or lower than you could ever before without missing the mark. The use of transparency in conjunction with the zoom- in and out transitions makes the user feel like they are moving through different layers of the phone which can be returned to later. This keeps the UX from feeling like each task happens in isolation and that “when I do X I am no longer doing Y”, instead the redesign allows you to feel that you are truly capable of multitasking.

Now…my gripes with iOS 7:

Sometimes the UI feels too squished together and tight. The main set of navigation circles for the home screen’s app carousel looks like it’s suffocating and the same goes for the main top header (with the time and stuff). This is not a HUGE issue and I suppose my feelings as a designer dictate that basic content should never linger anywhere past the imaginary margins apart of the grid (the grid system used in graphic design).

The VOLUME INDICATOR issue!!

Why does this still exist?! A complete oversight by the design team at Apple!

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To summarize: all in-browser video and fullscreen apps use the VERY obstructive and offensive volume indicator when you toggle sound up and down. This is how I end up dying (okay, not dying exactly) during an intense game of Subway Surfers. Of course there are probably a million ways to indicate volume change without blocking the content front-and-center. This should be a kindergarten UX problem-solving case study–perhaps so obvious that it’s overlooked?

There are some other general UI-related issues that I have with iOS 7…so I made a digital poster showcasing my problems (like anyone else would). See image below.

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