iOS goes flat
Edit: I really appreciate your comments guys. I know this comment probably wouldn't make it to most of you (it is very difficult to keep a track of this forum. Need some of notification system). I am basically an interaction designer. Graphics are not my forte. I hope the a good graphic designer can take and make this much better. This was an experiment, and as unpolished as it was, I wanted to put it out there. Nice to see the discussion. I am doing another iOS modification (which involves no change in style, thankfully), which is purely a new feature that I always feel is missing in iOS. Hope to have similar feedback there too!
Six years after its launch, an iPhone is now often in hands of people that have never used a leather bound address book. With Apple's Industrial Design genius Jonathan Ive taking reins of their software division, it is rumored that we will soon see a flat avatar of iOS. So, will it just cause a visual change, or a massive increase in usability? I tried to find the answers. I started out with the intention of just putting flat colours in place of textures, but ended up doing some changes in colour pallete as well, and then went on to completely overhaul the layout in one of the apps. Let's begin!
I like the reminders app on iOS. It is largely free of skeumorphism, and the little that exists (paper and dark leather border) is not much of an eyesore. I have no real problem with the layout either, but what stumps me is the colour choices for the calender and reminder list on the left. The boxes blend into the background, but should have been in a contrasting color in my opinion.
Although, it was a decision that I took very late during the design of this screen, I think the change in colour made a huge difference to the look of the app. Because the lighter shade in my design is not paper, I can use it for the calender and the list as well. This is a privelege that Apple's designers probably didn't have, and that's where the problems associated with skeumorphism start. This was my first design in the series, and I took this up as it needed the littlest changes. But the results encouraged me on to take up other more challenging apps.
I find most note-taking apps on the market intimidating. When it comes to quickly jotting down things, I always find myself returning to the first-party offering. In sharp contrast to the inherent simplicity of layout is the skeumorphic bling applied in generous dallops to the app. And it is not (just) the leather. Why does the paper need to have lines imitating real notebook? Why do you need a horrible red encircling of the selected note?
With Notes, I really had something to work with. I could bring the colours I liked because the brown and yellow just didn't cut for me. I chose the simplicty of white on a dark grey background. BI also wanted to add some sort of organisability to the app, without making it intimidating. Colour coding not only added a simple visual method of categorising notes, but also complemented the all white. The aforementioned red encircling is also replaced by a more discreet element. p.s. - You can change the colour of the note by tapping the empty space in the title bar.
Apple's address book is archaic, both in terms of design and features. It typifies all that is wrong with this design approach. The app imitates a book, but the pages don't turn. Because it imitates a book, we see half the screen devoted to a list of names! A look at this address book and the people hub in Windows Phone, and you'd see how far behind Apple currently is. Even though iOS has now burned Twitter and Facebook right into the system, there is no integration with these service in the address book.
I have done a quick mockup of what can be done with the Address Book. Getting rid of the 1:1 book layout provides immediate benefits by providing that extra space to do much more. I have done a quick basic card based layout. Someone more inclined on the graphical side can and should come up with something better. With companies trying to pitch an ecosystem around people, it is odd to see how far behind Apple is in this department.