Apple’s iOS 7 is coming soon, most likely by mid September. Is your app ready? iOS 7 is a ground-up redesign featuring a completely reimagined interface, new APIs, a slew of fresh features plus additional methods to control the device. Unless you want to appear as outdated as a flip phone, you should be updating your iOS 6 app this very minute.
Popular blogger and app developer Marco Arment has already urged fellow iOS developers to take quick, decisive action: “iOS 7 is different. It isn’t just a new skin: it introduces entirely new navigational and structural standards far beyond the extent of any previous UI changes.” So like he said, get to it.
Jony Ive’s influence on iOS 7 is unmistakable. Just look at the minimalist design, new iconography, brighter colors, emphasis on white space and textual elements. The visual changes, however, only hint at how different iOS 7 is from iOS 6. Despite the Internet’s cries of anguish, many of the updates are quite sound.
Developers and designers alike should consider the following platform enhancements:
As you can see, this is the most seismic shift in iOS since its introduction. No doubt designers and developers will have a great deal of work to do to ensure their app is optimized for iOS 7. But there really is no alternative as iOS 6 apps will look and feel archaic by comparison.
If you’re considering waiting to make the transition, don’t. There are more than 600 million iOS devices in operation and a staggering 93% are on iOS 6. You should assume that the majority of iPhone and iPad users will quickly transition from iOS 6 to iOS 7. When iOS 6 was released last year, 60% of iPhone users and 40% of iPad users upgraded to the latest offering within the first week of release.
After spending significant time with iOS 7, several top developers have provided advice on how to make the transition from iOS 6 to iOS 7. At minimum:
As with its product designs, Apple has stripped away superfluous visual distractions in iOS 7 and created an entirely new set of challenges: motion, animation and layering are all now critical. To put it bluntly, designers and developers can’t merely add decorative elements or clever UI movements to showcase their content. To succeed, apps must fully embrace the capabilities of the underlying hardware.
One iOS developer, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed the “big emphasis on motion and interaction” that runs through nearly every strand of iOS 7 represents the “future direction of the iOS platform.” Those making apps, and the businesses they support, will need to respond accordingly.
With iOS 7, apps will no longer look like they did before, and the distinction between app and web will almost certainly become greater. Successful apps on iPhone and iPad will now be much more interactive, more immersive and will take full advantage of Apple hardware and APIs. Done right, iOS 7 apps will be much closer to the end vision developers have long hoped for.