iOS 7 and Apple’s history of change

At the recent WWDC, Apple announced several products, including the next Mac OS X (Mavericks), a new Mac Pro and a refurbished Macbook Air. Among those, the Mac Pro and Mavericks are definitely drool worthy and buzz worthy. But expectedly the big debate is on iOS 7. Some have dubbed it as a copycat with nothing revolutionary on offer. Many, including die hard Apple fans have simply loathed the design, referring mainly to the icons, colours schemes and fonts.

The Mac OS 9 GUI:

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The Netscape interface: my favourite browser on OS 9 was Netscape – I simply loved its interface. Looking back, I wonder why.

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And then came OS X, which was a drastic departure from the familiar OS 9 interface. OS X had its share of detractors at launch too.

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Over time, OS X has evolved and become more polished. The Leopard, Mountain Lion and now Mavericks are drool worthy and considered by many as gold standards in UI and functionality.

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Mavericks as Guest OS

After the iOS 7 reveal, I reacted negatively too to the icons and colour schemes, on the home screen especially. But we need to bear in mind the following:

– it is still in beta; improvements and bug fixes will happen prior to launch in September

– most of are reacting to the inconsistencies in design by looking at some static images. A holistic reaction can happen only after actual usage

– the Apple team had barely eight month to overhaul the entire OS; given that, it is commendable achievement to go beyond just a cosmetic change

– change is never easy to accept, especially from the familiar. There are numerous instances of negative reaction to logo change. Remember the social media hue & cry over the Airtel logo change? But change for change’s sake is not the way to implement change. While many have been clamouring for change in the iOS interface, I don’t think Apple made the move for the sake of it. The fact is, times have changed since the iPhone’s launch in 2007. At that time it was a revolutionary and game changing design – in terms of hardware, UI and functionality. People had to be ‘told’ how to use and what each feature meant. The skeuomorphic design helped in that context. Today, touch screen interfaces, icon & interface design and gestures live in a vastly different world from 2oo7. As this lovely MacStories article points out, ”for iOS 7, they have decided to bet on content and functionality instead of ornaments. This is a profound change with consequences that go beyond “how icons look”.  Or as Chris Clark says:

Our mistaking a familiarity bias for inherent superiority is where our gut reaction against iOS 7 comes from. It’s a kind of xenophobia. Apple took our beloved iPhone and gave it back to us a stranger. Still walks and talks the same, still the heart and soul we love; just not the face we knew.

I also believe that a majority of iOS users will accept the change in double quick time. Even those who feel let down by Apple will come to forget & forgive soon. That’s the nature of relationship with Apple. In business one is told that if you have a great personal relationship with a client, an occasional goof up from you will be overlooked & forgotten. It’s quite similar with Apple – the underlying relationship is so strong that mistakes (perceived or otherwise) will be forgiven.



I remember so many issues with Apple in the past: using OS 9 meant compatibility issues with the office network (one had to buy a 3rd party product called DAVE to network with other PCs); there were hardware issues with the early MacBooks and so on. Sure, the situation is a bit different with iOS 7: it caters to a much larger base of users than OS 9 and social media & tech blogs play a huge role in creating buzz (positive or negative) today. But at a larger level, Apple has consistently delighted its fans. It is this faith which will stand in good stead when it comes to iOS 7 too. Some believe that iOS 7 will not be ‘accepted’. But thanks to the central update system, a majority of iOS users will perforce upgrade to iOS 7 after launch. So the question of ‘acceptance’ doesn’t arise. And given some time, the iOS will only get better.

What are your views?

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