The creative and delightful new style of iOS 7 gives iPhones, iPods, and iPads a refreshing new look. But if you know how to take advantage of the new direction of iOS 7, many of the technical and functional changes under the hood are even more exciting, making brand engagement via apps more powerful than ever before. Here are 3 key concepts to keep in mind when developing your iOS 7 mobile experiences.
1) Use an Even Cleaner and Simpler Design Approach
iOS 7 looks very different from its predecessors, and while companies (and their app developers) are free to use whatever color palette and font scheme they wish, straying away from the new graphic design style of iOS 7 may leave your app looking old and out of date. As Heidi Klum says, “You’re either IN, or you’re OUT.”
- Light colors
- Plain icons
- Solid matte background colors or very slight gradients
- Simple, narrow fonts
- Translucent layers and background blurring.
- Glossy reflective icons
- Drop shadows
- Borders on buttons
2) Use Increased Navigation UI Freedom Responsibly
That children (and adults) are able to use the iPhones and iPads without instruction is a testament to Apple’s success at building intuitive user interfaces. Apple’s approach mirrors the principles Steve Krug lays out in his classic web design book, “Don’t Make Me Think.” According to Krug, users should know how to navigate and use sites without instruction. But the new touch-based UIs of mobile devices are constantly inviting developers to explore new UI possibilities. The new design theme of iOS 7 emphasizes an approach where buttons, text input, and other user interface elements only present themselves when needed and disappear from the screen when not in use.
This design direction gives much more screen real estate to app content, and allows for much more engaging experiences. In addition, it appears that apps are encouraged to explore use of gestures for navigation (rather than having explicit and permanent “Back” and “Next” buttons for example).
However, this freedom to minimize navigation UI elements also increases the responsibility of designers and developers to take a firmer hand in guiding users with how to use the app. To keep users from being entirely lost it has become more and more common for apps to include a brief tutorial in their initial launch. What used to be a “nice-to-have” feature is now becoming a necessity. As your company develops its own apps, it is essential that developers and designers work to create an innovative experience, not conflict with Apple’s UI paradigms, and include guides for users whenever practical.
3) Take Advantage of Automatic Updates
Perhaps the improvement to iOS 7 that will most improve your users’ experiences with your app is the new automatic update functionality. This really occurs on two levels. First, and most noticeably, apps in iOS 7 will automatically update to the most recent version rather than requiring users to update manually. Effortless app updates mean that users will always be using the most up-to-date version of your apps without seeing annoying update notifications. But updating app versions isn’t the only type of background updating available.
The second way apps can automatically update themselves is not by updating the app version, but just updating their content. Previously, if you had a news or shopping app whose internal content (such as news articles) had to be updated, those updates would happen when the users next launched the app. This created a negative app experience where users would have to see a loading indicator whenever an app was launched. Now apps will be able to do their content updates in the background so that when the app is launched, users can jump right into your amazing content.
Conclusion: Innovate in iOS 7
The features described above are just a few of the great updates to a great mobile platform, but with iOS 7 Apple is also moving beyond iPhones and iPads. With direct integration into car systems, a whole new platform for great apps will become available. Additionally, the year ahead is sure to introduce a new iPad, iPad Mini, and Apple TV version (and dare we dream for an iWatch?). All of these great platforms present amazing opportunities for businesses to connect to users and create compelling brand experiences.