What needs improving in the design of the iOS user interface? We canvassed the opinions of some leading designers. Here's what they had to say.
The recent organisational changes at Apple - giving Sir Jonathan Ive creative control of both product and interface design - have brought renewed attention on iOS, and particularly on how it can be improved.
The wider design role for Ive has been well received and widely considered a win for Apple. But how should he capitalise on his new authority and, specifically, what changes does he need to make to the design of the iOS interface to keep customers happy and stop Apple falling behind its competitors? Last week we asked a selection of leading designers what they thought of Jonathan Ive's new role. Now the same group of industry figures discuss the changes they'd like to see in Apple's operating system...
What would you like to change in iOS?
Joe Tuckwell says
"There's been a lot of talk lately about the way Apple's own apps include too much skeumorphism - design elements that relate to what the app is, such as the bookcase in ibooks, rather than how it works. I would like to see these embellishments only used where they genuinely add to the user experience."
Joe Tuckwell is founder & director at creative digital agency Moresoda.
Rob Hampson says
"iOS is a fantastic operating system. It took mobiles out of the confusing bug ridden dark ages and made using a phone, and now other mobile devices, simple and enjoyable. However, my beef is with the iOS UI aesthetic. Whilst iOS works beautifully, I'm not a massive fan of the current focus on skeumorphic style it has adopted in apps like Find My Friends and most notably the Game Center.
"Even Sir Jonathan Ive has commented on this subject in the past. Android and Windows, whilst not perfect, seem to be carving a path towards a more refined style that is true to the product it lives within. I think now is a great time for Ive to step up and get iOS back into shape so it better complements the beautiful hardware he has created.
"I think the tough part for Apple will be balancing real-world concepts and current user interface conventions while moving the aesthetic forward and not clinging too hard to nostalgia. I expect that their interfaces will continue to evolve gradually rather than being suddenly overhauled. It'll be really interesting to see what comes next.
Rob Hampson is a senior designer at Maido.
Shane Mielke says
"There’s been a lot of buzz around the appointment of Jonathan Ive and his perceived unhappiness towards the so-called 'skeuomorphic' design in some of Apple's mobile products.
"I personally appreciate this interface design style as well as elements like the Mac OSX Dock which are by no means minimalistic and pure like the Apple product designs. In my opinion these styles and elements are what have helped separate Apple from the boring, uninspired and developer dictated Windows and Android style - and made rabid fans out of millions of users."
Shane Mielke is a designer and creative director.
David Martin says
"Apple iOS leadership had a design mission for a notebook journal to look like a notebook journal. I strongly disagree with that. It's corny. The website followed the same mindset in the early 2000s. iOS interface design needs to focus on the end user, not Apple's Disney-like requirements."
Dan Mall says
"At the risk of sounding like an oblivious fanboy, I don't think much needs - or has needed - to change from the first iOS from an interface design standpoint.
"From the day I purchased my first iPhone after standing in line for five hours, I was really impressed with how elegantly Apple created an ecosystem and a framework for the iPhone and its infrastructure.
"We're currently talking a lot about skeuomorphism versus minimalism, in part as a reaction to the juxtaposition of iOS and the Windows 8 aesthetic. The latter is certainly aesthetically pleasing, but after a few uses, I've found it's a learned interface as opposed to an intuitive one.
"Apple has built a great foundation in iOS; I'm hoping Ive is the person who proves that Apple can stand its ground on an already great product, as opposed to changing for the sake of change."
Phil Swan says
"Within the design community, there seems to be a bit of a backlash against skeuomorphism at the moment. I wonder how ready we actually are to move on from these real-world concepts, though - and if users who don't work in our industry actually want to.
"Historically, Apple have always referenced physical objects such as folders and trash in their interfaces and these metaphors have played a big part in helping users understand the concepts behind their software."
Dan Moat says
"I guess the ultimate success will come down to whether it's the look of the phone or the look of the software on it that get people queueing up for hours on launch day and I think the device is the clear winner there. Seems to make sense Apple would want to inject that style throughout to try and win back some of the market share."
Dan Moat is a freelance graphic design operating from his UK-based studio Tahninial.
James Parker says
"People now moan about Web 2.0 as a concept, but many of the basic things that era of design achieved have been forgotten in favor of fake leather and stitching. The iOS interface needs to be less clever and more intuitive.
"Historically Apple have been kings of UI, but I think now's the time to take a step back and remind themselves how the user interacts with applications, with the ultimate goal of creating an elegant design that's simple and easy to use."
James Parker has designed and developed websites for the likes of BBC Worldwide, Samsung and Tesco.
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What do YOU think of these designers' opinions? Discuss them in the comments below!