The iOS 7 Design Elements You’re About To See Everywhere

Now that iOS 7 is out, and a number of third party developers have updated their apps accordingly, some trends have started to develop. There are major new design philosophies in iOS 7, and whether you like them, or not, they’re about to be everywhere. iOS is a copycat platform with much of what works used over and over again, and Apple’s design style sets the tone for a lot of the other work done on the platform. The redesigned stock apps emphasize minimalism, flat layouts, and pastel colors, but there are sharper design cues we’re here to identify to help you see them as apps are updated, and new apps are launched based on these specific design principles.
Whether it’s Control Center, Notification Center, or Siri Apple has emphasized translucency in iOS 7. The early app updates are focusing on it as well, and that includes subtle implementation at the top menu bar where the objects on screen blend below as you scroll the screen. The main idea behind translucency is that it makes for a seamless experience. When you open up a new menu, Apple wants you to always be aware of where you came from, and where you can go back to. The previous items blend through, so that the user understands that there’s a consistency when moving between elements in iOS 7. When dragging down Notification Center over an app that you’re using, that app still subtly shows through, so that you know how Notification Center is positioned, and what you can go back to. Now, app developers can integrate similar ideas so that moving through their apps is one continuous experience.

This effect also applies to the new see-through buttons, so that developers can overlay buttons, and menu overlays on top of the content in the app. Buttons no longer have to block out sections of the screen, and instead can sit on top, and blend in with what the app is presenting. It’s all about having a reference point of where you have been, and where you are going when moving through iOS, and app tasks.
Non-Button Interaction:
We went extensively into this point already, but it’s worth mentioning again. In Messages, Mail, Calendar, Safari, Settings, Music, and more Apple has replaced buttons with swipe gestures. Rather than pressing the back button in the upper left corner, you simply swipe your finger from the left side of the screen to go back. Instead of tapping on the edit button to interact with individual entries, you can just swipe across those entries to edit. These changes are available in early adopter apps, and you will see it more, and more as users become accustomed to iOS 7. You have a touch screen device, and users are starting to understand these controls, and don’t needed guided digital representations of real world buttons. A major focus in iOS 7 is direct manipulation as compared to a removed state of tapping on specific areas to do certain functions.

Taking Down Frames:
If you look back at iOS 6 apps, as well as older App Store apps, there are some definite patterns. The main ones being the black bottom tab bar, and blue top menu bar. These sections framed the content of a given app, and were essentially wasted space. Instead of showing news, web pages, note lists, and other content, part of the screen was taken up by guided elements. In iOS 7, the focus goes to what lies within the app, and not the design of the app itself. It’s a monumental change that has already started to appear in third party apps, and will be the main point of iOS 7. Developers are now enticed to deliver their content on every pixel of the screen, instead of fancying what surrounds the content. This point connects with the translucency, and non-button interaction discussed above as both allow for less force fed menus.
Edge To Edge Design:
Extending the point of breaking frames, there’s a new focus on edge to edge design, both top to bottom, and left to right. Apps in iOS 7 are about filling the screen with whatever the app does. In the early app updates, we have seen menu bars that blend in with the status bar at the top, and allow for the content to flow beneath, again tying into translucency. The content on the page goes all the way to the top as you scroll the screen, and the bottom of the screen has been flattened. Without the framing on the sides, the content can now span the full width of the screen to show you more.

The edge to edge design goes right into the flatness of the iOS 7 as a whole. Rather than using layers, and depth to distinguish content on the page, colors do that job. Older versions of iOS rely a lot on shadows, and gloss to try to create a faux depth and borders, which instead increased the clutter. Now, differing color patterns show breaks in the page, or highlight which section of a tab you’re on. The apps no longer need to rely on having shadows to show indentations in the tab bars, or the different headings in an app. The interface elements have been steamrolled to create an edge to edge design without buttons, and without borders.
Pastel Colors:
Some may not like the new bright colors in iOS 7, highlighted by the color palette used in the new app icons. The bright colors are meant to really shine through the translucent effects, and create the distinguished menu items with a flat design that lacks borders, and buttons. The pastel colors are a necessary part of iOS 7, since colors are what separate all of the sections throughout the OS, and apps.

Dynamic Font Sizes:
The font is a concern for some users of iOS 7, as Apple has adopted Helvetica Neue Ultra Light. That means thin fonts will be the new norm throughout the OS, and third party apps. There are ways to change it though, as Apple has introduced dynamic font sizes. Now, developers can update their apps to set specific standards to all of the fonts used in their apps. That means they can create relative sizes for headings, normal text, captions, subtext, and more. Then, a user can change the Dynamic Text Size in Settings > General > Text Size, and all of the text in iOS 7 apps will change accordingly, while maintaining the weights of each separate section, just on a new scale.

iOS 7 is a major change by Apple that will take awhile to get used to. While new can be traumatic, especially when you’re so familiar with the old style, there’s a method to the seemingly madness at this point. Apple has made these changes for specific purposes to create consistency that is a new world order that doesn’t rely on digital representations of the physical world. The result can be disorientating in the immediate future, but the changes will be everywhere in iOS sooner rather than later, and there are strong design principles at work.


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