It took only a few minutes of seeing the iOS 7 preview for me to sarcastically say to myself “yep, Apple’s done innovating.” Something of course I would never be foolish enough to believe, yet so many people seem to. ((There was certainly more meat in the keynote than iOS 7 to prove to people Apple is not done innovating. Mac Pro anyone?)) I did make a key observation, however, as I watched the video and the demo of iOS 7. I became convinced that iOS 7 marks a new beginning for iOS.
When Apple first launched iOS on the very first iPhone, it took the world by storm. Apple, for arguably many years, had what nearly everyone would consider the most powerful mobile OS. Android has taken great strides to compete for the title, but I think with iOS 7 an incredibly strong argument can be made that iOS 7 is without a doubt the worlds most powerful mobile OS. ((I’m sure many will claim that Android is the most powerful OS, but I have been speaking with developers and gaining data that shows many limitations in sophistication in Android. More to come on that later)) And as I am fond of saying, it accomplishes this with unparalleled levels of sophisticated simplicity.
iOS 7 brings with it many new design, and user-interface elements that add new dimensions of visual appeal to iOS. Things like the depth of feel of the dynamic backgrounds that move with the gyroscope as you move the device. Or the new translucence of many apps allowing you to get greater context within an app. But it is the functionality of the overall experience in which iOS 7 breaks new ground.
Multi-tasking for example has taken a huge leap forward. Android users have argued for years that multi-tasking was better on Android and it was. But now even the most casual observers must admit iOS multi-tasking is on par, if not better. The ability to jump back and forth quickly between applications is a key task of a powerful and efficient mobile OS and iOS 7 does it simply and elegantly. ((The multi-tasking app card view is strikingly similar to webOS. This is a huge compliment to what was briefly one of the best mobile OSes around))
Multi-tasking itself has not just gotten functionally better but also intelligently more effective. Things like intelligently updating some of the apps you use most often in the background so they are up to date when you open them. Facebook, for example, can stay up to date without the need to constantly refresh to get new data every time you open it. Twitter or news apps will all be able to automatically update while adapting to network conditions. Your most used apps, and the data within them, kept up to date intelligently.
Control Center is another good example that is enabled by swiping up from the bottom. A simple yet efficient difference from competitors who have all notifications and controls swiping from the top down. For many reaching their thumb to the top to swipe down is hard or clumsy, especially on large screen devices. Yet for everyone, swiping up to access some of the most used controls is easily within reach. This is a great example of thoughtful functionality being added to iOS 7. [pullquote]iOS 7 is not just visually more appealing, but also functionally more useful[/pullquote]
The camera app has been redesigned to not just look great but also to be more functional. Siri, Safari, the Music app, Photos are now organized by moments, all have been re-designed from the ground up and are not just visually more appealing but also functionally more useful.
There are more new improvements in both visual appeal and function than I can get into. But all of these and more create such a fresh experience with the iPhone that when you get your hands or eyes on the new iOS and in particular when you get it on your iPhone or iPad, I am confident it will feel like an entirely new iPhone or iPad. iOS 7 is a new direction for the next generation.
Anything But Flat
I’d rather not get into a long debate of design philosophy but many rumors were circling about iOS 7 moving to a flat design look and feel. From what I saw iOS 7 is anything but flat. Rather, it was full of depth and vitality. Particularly the dynamic backgrounds with an image set is something that needs to be seen to be fully appreciated. But flat design is a philosophy and those who debate these things can argue whether some of iOS 7 is flat or not. My opinion, for what its worth, is that the feel and the experience of iOS 7 is anything but flat.
There are layers to iOS 7 that give it such a rich and dynamic feel. After seeing it, it is hard to be content with iOS 6 (as great as iOS 6 is). This again, is part of the conclusion, of why I believe iOS 7 is a new beginning for iOS.
This transition from iOS 6 to iOS 7, is as big for the iPhone and for Apple as the transition was from OS 9 to OS X. OS X marked a new era for the Mac and I am confident that iOS 7 marks a new era for iPhone, iPad, and whatever else Apple lets it run on. ((Like a TV)) iOS 7 is a new foundation to Apple to build upon, reach new consumers, and bring mobile computing into a new era. They have upped the bar in what a mobile computing OS is with iOS 7.
John Gruber wrote a great post yesterday where he stated:
The primary problem Apple faced with the iPhone in 2007 was building familiarity with a new way of using computers. That problem has now been solved. It is time to solve new problems.
The training wheels can now come off. That’s what I think Apple’s going to do tomorrow
The training wheels are certainly off. iOS 7 has set a foundation for Apple to tackle and solve new problems in mobile computing. The software experience is what makes the hardware. I have no doubt iOS 7 will give any hardware it runs a new beginning.