How will Jony Ive change Apple’s iOS?
Apple’s chief of design, Jony Ive, has been tasked with changing the look and feel of iOS. We speak to industrial designer Joel Levitt about what this means
70 per cent of Apple’s revenues are generated by its iPhone and iPad. Both devices are powered by the company’s iOS mobile platform, which, upon its launch in 2007 set the mobile space ablaze, re-affirming Apple’s reputation as an innovator.
Now in its sixth iteration, iOS doesn’t look much different to the platform we saw aboard the original 2G iPhone. Apple has made subtle alterations over time, adding new features and design accents here and there, but compared to Android, which has seen several significant overhauls, not much as changed.
At first this wasn't much of an issue, users lauded iOS’s simplicity and ease-of-use. Apple knew this and left the UI relatively unchanged. But with the advent of Windows Phone 8, Blackberry 10, and Android post-Ice Cream Sandwich, this is no longer the case – iOS needs to evolve. And fast.
The man tasked with doing this is none other than Jony Ive, Apple’s head of industrial design – the man behind some of Apple’s most iconic products. But what can we expect from Ive? How will he change iOS?
Know Your Mobile spoke with fellow industrial designer Joel Levitt about what we can expect from Jony Ive’s reimagining of iOS.
Know Your Mobile: What Apple products are you using at present?
Joel Levitt: I currently have an iPhone 4s and iPad mini, I've had only iOS devices since the iPhone 3G was released.
How much will the UI of the iPhone/iPad change not Jo?
I think initially, very little. From my perspective Apple have changed very little over the years across products and software - certainly not wholesale changes. I also don't see Jony Ive looking to ‘make his mark’ so they'll no doubt that their time and make it work how they want.
I can't see them rushing it for iOS 6.2 or iOS 7. Most features whilst looking over the top with the heavily used textures still work easily enough and can be used by anyone on any iOS device.
In the end I see the leather textures, stitching, address book contacts, ledger-look reminders, etc being modernised.
How could it change?
Apple made some subtle changes in their other mainstream apps like the App Store where the tabbed bar received a gradient texture, a "button pressed" look and a bigger light glow - still skeumorphic but in a much smarter way - I see this style, at least initially, as an indication of where the UI is going.
What would you like to see changed?
I generally don't use the productivity apps as much as i probably should such as Reminders, iCal, Notes and the clock other than for an alarm - all of these are quite clumsy and have been addressed by 3rd party app designers in far more interesting ways.
With Jony's input I believe he will be simplifying the over developed apps within their system and ensuring the best customer experience is achieved by reducing all the proprietary information so you can access the data clearly and without confusion.
Is it normal for an industrial designer to switch to designing the look and feel of UIs?
Ive's industrial design work has often centred around a user experience and this is transition-able across all consumer based design (structural packaging, apps, products).
I don't believe he'll single-handedly work on it and in a recent video he described the team input that went into the iPhone 5 – the prototyping that’s done to ensure the product ‘just works’ – and I believe the same approach will be used with iOS.
Compared to Android and Windows Phone, do you think, professionally speaking, that iOS is lagging behind?
I wouldn't say they are lagging behind but again apps have been created such as Clear for iOS and OSX with a very modern digital look, whilst still maintaining the simplicity of use and apple eco-system support.
However, I’m a big fan of the Windows Phone look and feel, I think Microsoft are definitely working in the right direction with their overall UI and system features and have taken a fresh stance on the digital world and this is good to see.
I'm not that familiar with Android but from a quick glance it shares too many basic layout elements - the rigidly tiled app icons, the coloured illustrated apps, etc for them to be seen as in front or behind of each other.
And lastly, how would you change iOS?
Eventually I see a full merge between OSX and iOS, so for a full re-skin I see it changing wholesale across all devices, but because of the requirements of the app structure - the icons, the recognised UI and basic structure of menus and the work that would be required to either re-size apps in the device or by the developer i don't see it dramatically changing – certainly not to a Windows Phone style, anyway.