Everyone’s A Critic

I’m late to the party on this one (that seems to be a theme in my life), but I’m going to take a look at how I would like to improve iOS7. I know, it was released for iPhones, and iPads came out about 6 months ago, which is seems like ages ago, but there are still things about it that frustrate me as a designer and a user. It seems like every other designer has already done their own version, but I haven’t found any that I felt really solved any problems; they just put a new skin on it. So, late though I may be, I’m making my own attempt at redesigning and rethinking the latest mobile operating system from Apple.


I’m going to break this into a series and tackle different elements separately – first looking at the basic home screen and icon designs, then looking to the application design and some UI/UX elements, before finally taking a look at how the iOS7 aesthetic could (and should) be brought to the Desktop OS.

You’re not doing that right

Now, I’ve spent 6 months using this software, and about 10 minutes researching, so by Internet standards, I am now an expert and my opinion holds weight simply by the virtue of me writing it down. But some will disagree with me no doubt; try to keep in mind this is my personal design style, and not a well reviewed, focus-grouped voted, team compiled 24-month development cycle to address countless situations and other peoples “feelings” about “execution of design paradigms.” It’s just an idea.

First off, I have never been a fan of the rounded square icons Apple has used since the first iPhone. These “superelipse” in iOS7 seemed like a personal affront to my character, but I learned to live with it – even though it reduces a supposedly elegant device to what appears to be a child’s plaything. Especially with the Game Center bubble icons. What IS that?? So first thing I did was back off to a more subtle rounded square for the basis of my icons. I feel like this shows less of the background as well, helping the icons to stand out more and be visually “Clear,” whereas the current version can get to be a muddled riot of bright color.


The second was to go with a limited color palette for each icon, and a more cohesive look. I’ve often been confused by the “iTunes” icon being the iTunes Store, and having to go to “Music” to actually listen to music (improved in iOS7 with iTunes STORE under the icon and a thin circle!) but they still contain the same icon presented in a nearly identical manner. For my version I revered out the icon against a white rounded square to set it apart. This is carried through the App Store as well, denoting both as store links. I used this element on FaceTime as well to make it stand out from the other communication apps, as automatically launching FaceTime can be embarrassing if you’re not prepared. Also, I have no idea what the current FaceTime app icon IS (a sideways broken rocket ship? A camera attached to a box that has a nipple?? A square with a speaker for an ear???), and wanted to clarify and simplify this as well.


Moving past a pure visual perspective, I wanted to think about functionality. The Calendar, Mail, and other apps have long been able to display dynamic data such as the number of new messages, and the current date. So why not take that a step further? My weather app shows real-time temperate, as well as a live-swapping icon in the corner to give you the current conditions at a glance (sun for sunny, raindrop for rainy, cloud for cloudy, snowflake for snowy, etc). Going one step further (and into Android and Windows Phone territory, I know), I imagined more dynamic data being displayed in certain apps. The Clock icon now displays the current time (user changeable as digital or analog clock types), and the Stock icon shows a rotating slideshow of the latest stock info.

Conclusions are for cowards

So this phase of the design was part looking at the feel and the overall appearance, as well as looking to some basic functionality improvements.

I’ll move more into the insides of Apps and the User Experience next time.

Written By: Michael Nelson, Interactive Director