iOS 7 Undergoing Ive-Led Transformation

Sweeping changes are in store for Apple's smartphone operating system.
5 Apple iPad 5 Wishes
5 Apple iPad 5 Wishes
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Apple put its lauded hardware designer Jony Ive in charge of the company's iOS platform late last year after shaking up some of its executives. Ive is introducing significant design changes to the platform, which is expected to make its first appearance at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) next month.

A new report from 9to5Mac offers some insight as to what Ive is bringing to the table. His ideas are described as "black, white, and flat all over."

One of the signature characteristics about iOS is its 3-D look and feel. Apps and their icons have shadows, shines, reflections and textures that give them a three-dimensional look. This appearance was favored by the late Steve Jobs, Apple's former CEO. It is these and other design elements that Ive is stripping from the operating system to give it a flatter, more modern look. Ive feels that the 3-D elements won't stand the test of time.

[ What else should iOS 7 have? Read Top 10 Changes iOS 7 Needs. ]

Ive is also looking to give the operating system a more uniform look. As it is, apps across the OS such as Notes, Maps, and Mail have wildly different appearances and color schemes. iOS 7's apps all will have the same look and feel.

Among specific changes, expect the lock screen and notifications to change. There will be less shine and a softer look to the unlocking elements. Notifications will be more actionable through gestures on the lock screen, rather than just visible. Also going away: Textures such as the background linen in the drop-down notification tray. Ive is looking to make other usability enhancements, such as panels that make adjusting the iPhone's radios (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS) more easily accessible.

The basic architecture that forms the home screen, with app icons floating in a grid, will remain the same. iOS 7 will offer support for panorama wallpapers, though, something that's been featured on Android devices for years. The keyboard has been a sore point with many iOS users for years. The new keyboard will have a different look, but 9to5Mac doesn't say anything about the keyboard's underlying software.

Apps that will see the biggest changes in iOS 7 include the App Store, Newsstand, Game Center, Safari, Camera and Weather. For example, the weather application will offer animations that coincide with the current conditions, such as snow or rain. (Again, something Android and even Windows Phone have done for years.) The Game Center will lose its old-time casino look, with the green felt disappearing. The Newsstand app will lose its wood-grain textures in favor of a more modern layout, and the way Safari organizes tabs will be altered as well.

Based on the report, it sounds like Ive is breathing some much-needed life into iOS. The operating system has remained essentially unchanged in its appearance since its 2007 debut. It sorely needs some updating in order to remain relevant next to the fast-changing Android platform. Even Windows Phone has a more modern look and feel.

For the moment, Apple's engineers are focusing on delivering these changes to the iPhone first. Although the new operating system will be previewed next month, it won't arrive on devices until the fall at the earliest. It will likely debut with the next version of the iPhone, and won't be available for the iPad until some point later in the year.

The WWDC keynote is set for June 10.