Monday, September 23, 2013

Apple and Innovation: The Importance of iOS7

There have been a number of posts lately on Treffpunkt about Apple, the new iPhones and the new iOS. After reading Carly's opinions about how the introduction of iOS 7 left something to be desired, I wanted to share my own thoughts about the implications of this new software.

As is the norm with any Apple release, there has been huge hype and varying opinions of iOS 7 since it's announcement and more recently its release. Personally, I am a fan. I think there have been significant improvements over the solid yet stale systems to date. More importantly, I think iOS 7 signals a change in Apple, one that loyal fans have been hoping for in the last few years: a baby step towards finding the innovation that sparked the company's original success.

It's no secret that in the last few years, Apple hung closely to its golden goose and has been hesitant to mess with the formula, much to the chagrin of its users. I myself, while still loyal, found myself disappointed with recent apple announcements and always walk away hoping that they bring out a game changer that I want, no NEED to spend my hard earned money to obtain. With iOS 7, though its merits have been heavily touted, many people felt the same way, that this update is no more than a paint job. And it sort of is. Even I understand that iOS 7 at its core is a design overhaul (one that was long overdue) but the implications of that design are far reaching and it carries with it a taste of the disruption that Apple can be so adept at.

iOS 7 is flat, colorful and minimal. It looks completely different and it has stripped away a lot of unnecessary
components. Mechanics have been optimized, UX has been tweaked, and honestly, ever since I downloaded it (I managed to sneak an early copy) the thing I have been most excited about is how developers would adjust to this shift in design.

The other day I received an email from Wunderlist talking about their approach to redesigning for iOS 7 and it voiced perfectly what I'd been hoping would occur after launch. The software is forcing app developers to completely rethink their designs and from more than just a visual perspective. Serious developers like Wunderlist are taking extra time to rethink not only how their apps look but also how they function within this new software environment. How can we make it easier to navigate through our content? What content do we need? What features are nice to have, but not really necessary? In their email, Wunderlist talks about how they're looking at things from the ground up, stripping away anything that isn't essential and focusing on making planning as easy as possible for their users.

 What will make this next iteration of apps so great will be the fact that the essence of their style, what makes them flashy and cool, will be how they elevate the importance of content and function rather than whether the notebook looks like a notebook and has page tearing animations. As time moves on, the importance will be on making sure people can interact with what they need to and move on to the next thing as efficiently as possible.

As marketers and designers and developers, we need to take a second and really think about what the primary goal is for our apps and mobile websites. We need to think about all the features our audience could use, draw down to what features make the most of the mobile interface, and then go deeper into which of those features is absolutely necessary. Only then can we think about how we package the app in a way that elevates and enhances those features.

That is what I see as the importance of iOS 7 and why I am extremely excited to continue using it. I remain hopeful that in very Apple fashion, we're being thrust into a tech era focused on meshing form and function and simplicity all with the user at its center.

Now...if you'll excuse me, I have to go check the App store for the fifth time today.

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