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How iOS 7 Will Spark a Boom in App Design

Kyle Vanhemert has written a nice article for Wired on the implications of iOS 7 for app design, with commentary by Gentry Underwood.

Apple’s new OS isn’t just prettier to use, it’s more accessible to build for, too. It refocuses the whole expectation of an app to the solution, not how flashily that solution is packaged. Basically, the new design language makes it simpler to turn a good idea into a first-class app, even without knowing how to bounce fake light off of a lickable button.

“This is a space where there’s no reward for fancy veneer for its own sake,” Gentry Underwood says. “It’s a space that rewards thoughtful application of design focused on simplicity.”

This shift is something we can trace to Jony Ive. Across all the different products he’s overseen as hardware demigod, one of the enduring principles of Ive’s philosophy of hardware design is one of deference. Apple products should be beautiful, his thinking went, but not beautiful for their own sake. Even at their most stunning, or their most spunky, the stuff you’re doing on those devices is what’s really important, and Ive’s work, since the start, has been one of building products that get out of the way.

“Because you don’t have to worry about building a bunch of extra pseudo-physicality, it creates these opportunities to create these beautiful, simple, truly digital first experiences that are unlike anything in the real world,” Underwood says of the native apps. Not only does iOS 7 free designers from focusing on the tiresome details of the old visual language; it liberates them from thinking about real world analogs for their designs entirely.

In Underwood’s words, the new example leaves devs “free to focus on facilitating function as efficiently as possible, with a form that’s as simple as possible.” With iOS 7, he says, “you’re given the permission to express yourself in a much more simple and direct way…It’s a wonderfully liberating experience.”