After Apple’s VP of iOS Development, Scott Forstall, left the company in October last year, it was hardware design guru Jony Ive who took on a chunk of his responsibilities in what’s known as Apple’s Human Interface department. What this means is the man who helped create many of the company’s iconic hardware designs, is now also working on software design.
One can’t help being intrigued by the prospect of Ive having considerable say into the look and operation of future versions of iOS, and thanks to some anonymous developers who’ve spoken to the Wall Street Journal, we’re getting our first hints of what the mobile operating system will be like with his input.
Apparently, his version of iOS will be stark, simple and have a, “flat design.” However, don’t expect drastic alterations to the overall look and feel of iOS, as the changes have been described as, “pretty conservative.” This sounds like Apple, and we already know Jony Ive is a fan of the minimalist approach. Ive is working with Apple’s Greg Christie, VP of the Human Interface team, which in a change from before has allowed the software and hardware teams to work closer together.
The end of skeuomorphism, the beginning of the flat design?
If you’re wondering what a flat design looks like, it could tie-in with Ive’s much publicized dislike of skeuomorphic design. Skeuomorphism, for those who don’t know, is when a related design has a connection to a physical object. There are many examples inside iOS, with everything from the calculator to iBooks to the calendar (particularly on the iPad) looking like their real-life counterparts. Flat design is the antithesis of skeuomorphism, and can be seen throughout Microsoft’s latest Windows software – with Metro being a fine example of flat design thinking.
This could mean we’ll see fewer shadows, bevels and 3D shaping in future versions of iOS, replaced by minimalist shapes with solid colors and more emphasis on text and fonts. In fact, Apple’s departure from skeuomorphism has already started, as the reel-to-reel tape deck has been removed from version 1.2 of its podcast app.
The next version of iOS is expected to be unveiled during Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, which is usually held in June, although the exact dates for this year’s event have yet to be confirmed. Could iOS 7 be the first version of the operating system to bear the marks of Ive’s influence? If so, no matter how conservative the changes may be it’ll be a big step for Apple, as iOS’s design has remained fairly consistent ever since it launched in 2007.