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iOS 7 developers discuss Android/Windows similarities and redesign challenges

Karen Haslam | June 17, 2013
After the WWDC keynote on Monday night we fired off some emails to developers to gauge their reaction to the announcements.

Public Space developer Frank Reiff had an interesting insight into why now is the time for Apple to move towards a new look operating system. He explained: "It is true that iOS 7 looks more like Android than iOS 6, but I think that's not a bad thing. The iPhone and the iPad were aimed squarely at bringing people outside of the usual PC crowd onto new mobile touch-based devices and iOS reflected this in many of its design decisions. Android has always assumed a more on tech-savvy audience and its design and core values reflect that."

Reiff added: "Now Apple's mission has shifted from bringing people onto the platform to giving them more capable devices and I think iOS 7 reflects this new focus on capabilities. It is now safe for Apple to assume that most iOS users have owned such a device before and they can assume more familiarity with core concepts, and that profoundly affects all design decisions."

A number of developers noted that even if it's similar to Android, because Apple has designed it, we can be sure that iOS 7 will be better. MacAce CEO Gary Hall said: "If anyone can use Helvetica, take away all the gloss and shadows and use primary colours and get away with it, it's Apple - if it were anyone else, we'd all be criticising it much more, but this is Apple - they do design better than anyone else."

In many ways it doesn't matter if Apple's iOS is like Android, Apple will do whatever Google does better because they control the hardware and the software. This theory was put forward by Reiff, who suggested that: "Apple's design team has a better grip on what is possible and what is important than Google with Android. Apple always matched iOS and hardware capabilities very well. If something was too power or CPU hungry to run well on the current generation of devices, Apple simply didn't do it. Google just put it in anyway."

Reiff continued: "The result has been that even very low powered devices like the original iPhone always felt very responsive and fast. Conversely, even very capable Android devices always feel a little bit sluggish."

"We've now reached the point where mobile devices are capable enough to run something akin to a "full OS" and Apple is taking advantage of it," added Reiff.

Redesigning icons in iOS 7

Icons see to be a bone of contention with our developers. Blount told us: "I'm yet to be convinced by the new icons, as I really liked the gloss of the old ones."

However, it's not just the new look that has raised concerns, a couple of developers point out that the strict guidelines for icons will make it much more difficult for developers to make their apps distinguishable.


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