Apple. iPhone. iOS 7. Can you fit more appropriate tech buzzwords in the first three words of a post? This summer Apple shook up the mobile industry by announcing iOS 7, a “completely” redesigned version of their mobile operating system. Almost immediately our clients were asking: will my app continue to work?
I’ve dug into iOS7. Of course I can’t talk about most of it because of the developer NDA, but Apple revealed plenty publicly at their developer conference that can lead us to some conclusions about how it will affect your app.
You can separate out the question “will my app work in iOS 7” into two groups: form and function. Let’s talk about the latter first.
By looking at Apple’s site, we can see some changes to the UI that will affect every app.
For one, the status bar is no longer opaque. This means our app’s content, nav, etc. will appear behind the status bar. Also many of the native UI components have been redesigned. They have an updated color palette and might require some tweaks.
These changes are fairly straightforward. This will keep your app up and functioning in the app store. You may notice that even these changes may be optional. It’s not in Apple’s best interest to break hundreds of thousands of apps. While we can’t say for certain until release day, it’s more than likely that your app will just continue to work as is.
Many of the apps in the app store will implement functional fixes. They will make minor modifications to ensure that their app doesn’t break or overlap the status bar, but Apple has greater long term intentions.
If you continue to browse that gallery, a couple of things become apparent. iOS 7 looks a lot different. Apple removed a lot of visual indicators that were on previous versions of the OS. For instance, the weather app. There’s nothing on the screen that screams “I’m a button, tap me.” All borders and background are gone from the buttons.
Also you can see that the navigation bar has been simplified. The fonts in the interface are a lighter weight and the color palette has been shifted to a lighter spectrum.
Layering is also a new theme. Many elements like the keyboard are now slightly transparent so you can still see the content below them.
Some gestures have been added as well. Previously to navigate to the previous view you’d click the back button in the navigation; now you can simply swipe your finger from left to right across the screen.
What does this mean for my app?
Apple has addressed a lot of things having to do with form. Of course following suit is optional at this point. However, in the first couple of weeks after iOS 7 is released, we’ll see many apps releasing updates that follow the new look and feel. These updates won’t be minor functionality changes either, but drastic and inline with all of the native apps that Apple will be releasing with this major update.
This means that your app, which is potentially lost in the crowd at the moment, has an opportunity. It can look like an old iOS app or it can be updated to live harmoniously in its new environment and maybe even lead the pack. You might not be ready today to rethink your app, but as iOS 7 matures over the next couple of months, don’t lose the opportunity to stand out amongst the over 900,000 other apps.
Function is of course critical to your app’s success, but form will be what sets it apart from the rest.