Is a visual refresh necessary for iOS 7? Yes but not for the reasons people keep talking about...
I won't bore you with the song and dance that everyone seems to be singing and dancing lately. "iOS looks dated" "Skeuomorphism is terrible, go flat!" etc, etc. The big feature people want from iOS 7 is a visual refresh, but I think they want it for all the wrong reasons.
I think the cold and flat style that everyone wants is a fad, but Apple should follow along.
You're thinking "Wait, you think they _should_ go with a fad? That makes no sense!" and normally I would agree with you. Design fads are standard flare in every industry. Go and check out the most recent Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, Chevrolet Cruze, Volkswagen Jetta... they all kind of have a very similar style going on. Go to Best Buy and try to find a fridge that's not black with silver doors. Go ahead, I'll wait.
All black and silver, that's what I thought.
The standouts are usually those that do their own thing regardless of industry fads. In the computer industry, that has been very often, with great results, Apple.
So why should Apple this time not do their own thing, and follow the fad? Developers.
I bought an iPhone the day it became available in Canada, and have loved the platform ever since. One of the biggest draws was consistency - if you knew how to use app A, you knew how to use app B. A UITabBar was a UITabBar. The navigation stack worked the same. Apps had to differentiate themselves on functionality, not on UI. It was great.
Then something happened. Developers got too familiar with iOS inner workings. They started implementing their own controls instead of using UIKit's. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Alien Blue, everything Google has made, Mailbox, Shazam, Netflix, RedLaser. These are all great apps on my homescreen that have shunned consistent operating principles for custom components. Most of them very much on the same course of flatness that many people seem to want.
I want that consistency back. It's one of those indescribable things that made iOS so great, and its losing it because of a fad. Apple's choices are to put the effort in and do their own style, only to be ignored by developers who are following what's "trendy", or to go with the trend and restore the familiarity and usability of third party apps with the rest of the system. As much as I think trends, particularly design trends, should be ignored, I do think this is one area where they can't be ignored.
Apologies if my points aren't clear, I'm not exactly what one would call a "writer", but hopefully the idea gets carried forward.