WWDC ROUNDUP: iOS 7 a Copy Cat?

TWALKITOUT: Kavin Kumar

Apple, as a company has two different stories – With Steve Jobs and Without Steve Jobs. When Jobs was there, Apple rose into an undisputed brand in the Technology Universe. And when he is not there, the free-fall became unavoidable. This was the story of the past and this could well be the story of the future too.

The Infinity Loop headquarters was all abuzz on Tuesday morning for Apple’s annual World Wide Developer Conference. Almost everyone know what was going to come. The next generation OS for iPhone with skeuomorphic design and an iRadio. This itself was a big setback for the Tim Cook & co. Until, Jobs was there, not even a dust would go out of the company. There would be nothing to guess on what to come in any Apple event. That surprise factor is an important reason for Apple’s success over the years. It was missing this year. Every single thing, even a HD screenshot of Apple’s new design was out in the wild.

iOS7

Still, there were hundreds in attendance at the conference hall, millions on iDevices watching it live on Apple’s website (the stream was only available to Macs, iPhones and iPods), and millions of unlucky ones on Windows (like me) tuned into the live blogs hosted by various Tech sites. There was a glimmer of hope, just because this is Apple. You can never bet on them.

WHATSUP?

The new OS had in fact a very new and modern design. The visual appeal is changed, the typography is changed, the way you interact is changed, and the way you multitask is changed. The OS sports an all new look. It is the flat, skeuomorphic design as expected and that was simply lovely to see and use. Apple has really made a great use of gyroscope in the OS. When there is a popup menu, or the control centre which opens above the home screen, you can tilt your phone to see what’s behind it. It’s the thing we do as a child – peeping sideways into the TV to see a character hiding behind the wall. You nailed that, Apple.

FLAT, FLATTER, FLATTEST

They call that skeuomorphic (what on earth does that even mean?) design. Everyone in the industry loves this flatness. Like many other things, it was Google, which opted to it first. Years back, they removed the drop shadow and glossy effects in the Google logo on homepage to keep it simple. Many others followed suit. Windows ultimately refreshed their Desktop and Mobile OS to a simple flat interface. Google followed the same design principles in the Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0). Even twitter and more recently Facebook flattened their logo. No wonder apple did the same. No glossy effects, no real world replicas. And they have made it absolutely fine.

Full credits to Jonathan Ive, the design guru of Apple. The design could not be better than this. Another important thing with the design is the perfect use of transparency. The notification centre and the control centre are glossy transparent. They give an overview of what’s happening below them. The icons are refreshed to give a chamfer at all four corners. (Is that copied from Nokia’s Asha? Let you decide that.)

STOCK APPS

Going by the design principles of the OS, the stock apps, are also refreshed. The biggest hit being the Weather app. The app now features an end-to-end design, occupying the entire screen area. The Weather app now also features new typography and animated backgrounds that makes it an instant hit.

The Mail app is also elegant. With simple white background and clean design, looks like apple is taking a lot of inspiration from Google on design. Nevertheless, the beauty of design and the performance of iOS is a perfect combo to take home.

SIRI

How can you talk about iPhone, without talking about Siri? The personal voice assistant now has both male and female voices to choose with. It also has neat integration with twitter and Bing. But besides that, Siri has nothing new, which is a serious disappointment.

CONTROL CENTER

If there is one thing that everyone loved about the iOS 7 it is the control centre. Anywhere in the OS, swipe from the bottom of the screen to bring this up (for your information, this gesture is a rip-off from BB10). This nifty feature lets you to turn on/off your essential setting like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, etc. and control the screen brightness and music player. That’s not all. Control centre has a button even for turning on the torch light (the flash) of your phone. Kudos Apple, for killing the future of 50+ torch light apps on the app store.

MULTITASKING

Yes! Apple finally did it. And they proclaimed it as a big achievement. Wonder if Tim Cook knows that almost every OS except their have this kind of thing. Anyway, iOS also has it now.

THE EXTRAS

The lock screen now features a swipe-to-unlock feature replacing the traditional iPhone’s slide-to-unlock feature. iWork for iCloud, Apple’s variant of Google Docs / Office 365, is now available for iOS as well as for Safari and Chrome on desktops. Safari now sports a new look and tabs are vertically arranged similar to Chrome for Mobile.


TIME TO DISCARD 3GS

Have iPhone 3GS or even older model? Apple doesn’t care for you, literally. iOS 7 will not be available for phone before the iPhone 4. Even on iPhone 4 and 4S, the update will have a limited functionality. Complete feature set will be available only for the owners of iPhone 5.

THE BOTTOMLINE

The Jobs era of Apple is driven by Innovation. He redefined the way we use computers, the way we listen to music, the way mobile phones are used. But sadly the post-Jobs era is defined by Inspiration. Not the inspiration from its leaders, but the inspiration from its rivals.

The typography and flat design is inspired by Windows Phone. The design of stock apps are inspired from their counterparts (Weather inspired by Yahoo! Weather; Mail inspired by Mailbox and Gmail and more). The control centre is a BB10 rip-off. Swipe to unlock from Samsung’s Androids. Safari in many ways look like the Chrome for mobile. Multitasking is emulated from Palm’s WebOS.

Apple was a company that was defined by its Innovation rather than Inspiration. With all these features, we are pretty much sure that iOS 7 will get a warm welcome from Apple fanatics. But this is definitely not the way Jobs would have dreamt of Apple. Unless Tim Cook & Co takes a different path, Apple’s future will be gloomy.

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Kavin Kumar

If you liked this post, please share it and click the Like FB or Follow Twitter button! Or consider subscribing to my mailing list!! Kavin Kumar is a Mechanical Engineer by education; Software engineer by profession; Blogger by passion. He is the Twitter voice of a popular brand. He writes about Technology and Social Media.

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