iOS 7: Logical Step or Lateral Mess?


Since the debut of iOS 7, I think the internet has had a bit of a meltdown. How could Apple have possibly come up with this fruity-pebbled, bubblegum-pop mess? This is what I basically took away from the general mass that bothered to follow the introduction of the OS, followed by a series of alleged iOS users threatening to switch to Android, Windows Phone or BlackBerry.

I didn't take the introduction all that well either, but I knew there was more than meets the eye. After all, during the even Apple had spent the first few minutes of the presentation and a fair bit of their marketing budget telling consumers that "Designed by Apple in California" means to. Surely, the point of iOS 7 wasn't to make current users switch, so I waited and waited and waited. I don't know exactly at what point iOS 7 just clicked, but when it did, I had the feeling that iOS 7 was doing more for humanity than any and all other operating systems in the past. Here's my look at a few aspects that lead me to believe that iOS is a logical step forward.

First off, let's tackle the color palette. Well, many say that it's a Brony's dream OS. So, what's up? How is the operating system's new color palette logical? Well, in modern renovation design for homes, color is quickly coming into fashion — and not just any color, bold color. I think it's safe to say that iOS' new color palette is pretty bold. In fact, that's the number one reason why I think as many people had a strong reaction, albeit positive or negative, towards the OS.

But renovation designers don't just smear colors all over the place and call the finished product a work of art. No, most of the work of renovating a space is just as much about what you add as what you leave out. Too much color can make the space look too busy, and not a place where one might enjoy a book relaxed on a sofa. So how does that fit into Apple's design and the logicalness of the OS?

If you look at most of Apple's applications, they all feature white space with a single bold color inserted to give the application a little contrast. In the new Music, Apple uses red to contrast against the white, and it looks quite nice. It adds a little flare to what could have been a really boring-looking. Notes uses yellow to highlight, while Game Center uses purple, and Messages uses blue. All of these colors for each respective application helps to define the space and add a little more definition to the UI. Where a renovated room would have its focal point (e.g. a wall, backsplash, fireplace, etc.) each application has its focal point as well, and that focal point, besides the actual purpose of the application, is the color chosen to contrast the white space.

Now, where does the home screen fit into this? Well, I personally feel as if the overload of color in the icons and the default wallpaper were meant to balance out the body of iOS. That is to say, the hardware of each iOS device is beautify, but it's incredibly boring too. That's the price of industrial design. To offset this boring design, Apple overloaded the default application icons and wallpaper with color. Incredibly, I think it contrasts well when I keep in mind that the gray and white hardware of my iPhone suffers from the lack of color, so all of the color is displayed on the screen, creating balance. I feel iOS 6 looks awfully stale and under-saturated now. The color adds mental order and balance, which results in visual interest in the hardware because of how toned down it is, but the abundance of color then makes the shell of the device stand out, which then reinvigorates the saturated color palette.

Color is a big part of iOS 7, but it's not the only part worth noting on its logical effectiveness. Plenty of other aspects often seen as gimmicks also contribute to the logical success of the OS.

Parallax. Is there any other way to even begin to explain the logical effectiveness of the parallax without coming off as a blatant fanboy? Yes, the sense of depth and the parallax add to the cool factor of the OS, but I'm going to actually attempt to prove that it has purpose. Like seriously. So here it goes.

It is my understanding that the parallax ultimately defines the sense of placement within the OS. This is very important for iOS because non-techies' worse nightmare is getting lost in a virtual space. The parallax doesn't just look cool, it introduces a space — a real home space space where perspective changes what you see on the screen. It injects the message that the OS isn't comprised of a series of segregated windowpanes aimed to leave beginners disoriented. Rather, it shows relationship. Well, it's the base foundation of an established relationship. This is extended with animations.

This is where the animations come in. I saw a lot of reactions to iOS' new animations when launching applications that seemed to imply that Apple blatantly copied Android's animations. Well, I think it's less about Apple having copied Google's Android and more that Apple agreed that the animation was logical.

When a user touches an icon to launch an application, the display zooms in to the placement of the icon until it fills up the space of the entire display. To the techies, we understand that we just launched an application; the animation could've been completely janky, but we'd still undestand where in the OS we are in. To the user, it's all about placement. Where am I in the OS when I touched that icon? Well, I'm zoomed up to that icon. When I press the home-button, I'll step back out to the bigger picture. See, I think it's a little more logical to the average user than where iOS was/is in iOS 6. The parallax first established perspective and the zooming-into-the-icon animation helps complete that sense of order and logic that Sir Jony Ive was talking about.

Up until this point, I think iOS 7 makes a whole lot of sense, don't you? Right, but Apple didn't just stop there; Apple now handles overlays a little differently than before. And despite what some may think, this could've disrupted the experience, making the OS feel incomplete.

Notification Center and Control Center are both handled a few ways that establish depth and placement but also remind the user where he or she is at all times: they're both accessible from almost anywhere in the OS and they're both translucent in design. The accessibility portion just adds a little more direction because by design, they just slip over whatever foreground action is occurring. Users know how to exit the interface because it's like closing a door or locking your phone: the action to exit is the reverse action to activate it. And the translucently picks up where the overlaying aspect left off. Because the user already knows where she or he is, the translucency just adds a sense of familiarity. Users will be able to see what is behind the interface, resulting in a batter sense of placement. Where am I in the OS? Oh, It's like I pulled a curtain over or under my view of the foreground application. So I'm still in the same place. I'm just behind another thin layer. This works very well, but it mostly just looks slick (laugh out loud/just kidding).

This translucency is actually carried throughout the OS too. For instance, in the messages application, the top status bar is now connected to the application options. That whole top area is normally white, but in scrollable areas where information can pushed up and down the screen, the information can be pushed behind the frosted upper heading area. Users see the information behind the pane, but with a decrease in detail. This effect also ties together an aesthetic that Apple's been riding pretty hard to this point when you take all of the stock applications, Notification Center and Control Center, and the new dock into account.

To conclude, I feel that Apple has been successful at achieving a logical operating system (on paper). Only time will tell if the general public will understand what I can see from the OS or if the typical separation of one's ability to understand technology exists purely because the device that person holds is still seen as a computer. If there was anything important to note though, it would be that no matter what the outcome is, Apple has done quite a bit to change the OS from what it once was. The changes can be good or bad, but they did try to do something different. But different isn't always successful. Just look at 2 Chainz' single "I'm Different".

To review iOS 7, just click here!

I actually would like to hear what you guys think too. Having read my article, do you guys see iOS in a different light? Does iOS make more sense than it did before the read? Am I a fanboy for trying to justify the purpose of the parallax?