It’s only been a few short hours since Apple announced and demoed OS X Mavericks, iWorks for iCloud, the Mac Pro, and iOS 7.
Before I get to the meat of this short post, I’ll quickly say that Mavericks seems like a strong, iterative update on OS X: plenty of nice, long awaited features that’ll make working with my Macs a lot easier.
With iWork for iCloud, I think it deserved more pomp and circumstance than it received. This is taking on Google Drive/Docs and Office 365. I was waiting for then to announce collaborative tools — something at least on the calibre of their old iWorks.com service. But besides that’s it looked like it could be significantly more powerful in the actual document creation aspect than Google and Microsoft’s office. I mean, did you see those transitions in Keynote? That’s in a fricking browser! That’s pretty awesome.
The Mac Pro looks really quite neat. Great industrial design. It looks like something from the future. Wasn’t expecting it to look like that at all.
And now, we get to iOS 7. John Gruber mentioned that he was told that this would be polarising. But I didn’t quite realise how much so. Personally, I’m torn. There is a lot about it that I really love, and a lot that I hate. There’s little, if any, “it’s ok”, or “not bad”. It’s either brilliant, or awful.
I’ll get into what I like, first, as I think there’s more likes than dislikes.
I really love the general feel of the apps. They’re very airy, lots of white space, but without feeling empty. The use of Helvetica Neue Ultra Light will be a hard sell on iPad Mini and iPad 2 — I don’t think it’ll render we’ll on their displays — but the rest of the supported devices which all sport Retina Displays will handle the font well. The weather app is gorgeous. Safari looks like a solid improvement. In fact, all the apps do. They all look like great refinements of what we has.
I love that it keeps the playfulness of iOS. It’s still quirky in it’s use of animation, and definitely goes to show that flat design needn’t be bland. The way sent Messages animate, for example, or even the Camera’s UI show a lot of great, fun, quirky design. The slight blur on the transparent backgrounds are, while a little to heavy, still really neat.
And I love that the design isn’t flat. If anything, there’s more depth than ever. Elements of the UI are very clearly layered. And the parallax effect on the home screen… I want to see it before committing, but that looks like it might be really amazing (perhaps signalling that Apple’s looking into 3D displays, though not for a few years, I’d think).
iCloud Keychain looks great. Goodbye, 1Password. Control Centre looks great. Goodbye, Flashlight apps. iTunes Radio looks great. Goodbye Spotify (when iTunes Radio eventually comes to the UK, that is).
The new multitasking UI (and APIs) are nice. AirDrop, if it works with Macs, too, will be great. Siri’s new voice(s) sound sexy. As does it’s new UI.
Now, on to what I dislike.
Firstly, I don’t like the default wallpaper they’ve chosen. It’s loud. It’s distracting. I think the whole thing would have come across a lot better with a simple, dark wallpaper. Because the icons are so… “over saturated”… the loud background does nothing to help calm the scene down. When everything is shouting at you, you can’t hear anything.
Speaking of the icons, I don’t like them. At all. I’m fact, I hate them. With a passion. They’re cartoonishly simplistic.
The icons of iOSs prior always had an allure of grandeur about them: they gave the impression of premium, and quality, and elegance. The new icons do none of this. They don’t say “simplicity” in the way I suspect they were intended to, rather, they say “basic”.
The new weather app is gorgeous. It’s refined, and beautiful, and an app I think it would be a joy to use. It’s icon doesn’t do anything to show this. It’s icon makes it seem like one of the billions of the poorer examples of a weather app in the App Store. In fact, if I saw that icon in the App Store, I’d pass on it.
The new Photos icon doesn’t look like a photos icon. Likewise, with Game Centre. And dont even get me started on the Safari icon.
The rest of the icons look clumsy, with no visual consistency between them. Some are flat, sle are gradated. Some are graphics that cover the entire icon, others are glyphs in the centre. There’s nothing that says that these icons are from the same family; that they belong together.
One of Apple’s great strengths is accepting when they’ve made mistakes, admitting them, and moving forward, correcting them.
Apple has made a mistake in iOS 7. Not all of it, but in a very important part.
It’s icons are wrong. There is no other way to say it. I can’t put it nicely. They are wrong. Worse than simply not displaying the sense of quality that iOS has always displayed, they betray it.
iOS is still a great OS. What I’ve seen in iOS 7 doesn’t make me believe otherwise. But I hope that, before it’s released, Apple will admit that they’ve made a grave error here and fix if.