Good grief!  There's more??

Good grief! There’s more??

In 1997, Steve Jobs returned to Apple, rallying the company back to health from the quicksand that it has found itself in since his departure.  One of the most powerful ad campaign they did is to define themselves.  In an era dominated by Microsoft, Apple has to find its way to reemerge not just as a viable alternative.  Rather she has to remind the world who they are.  They are the ones who stood against IBM in its vicegrip in the early 80′s.  They’re doing it again.   Apple has to once again… be ‘Different’.

Thus, the campaign ‘Think Different’ was born, showcasing various individuals who, in being different from the rest, stood out and made a dent in human history.  Albert Einstein, John Lennon, Gandhi, Martin Luther King… and many others.  Here’s the full ad as narrated by Steve Jobs:


Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things. They push the human race forward.
And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world,
are the ones who do.

This is perhaps the only ad campaign that welled my eyes up… because I can very much empathize with every word being said.  Living in status quo makes things uninteresting.  I don’t like to follow the whim of the average.  I want to create things that would wow people.  Things that would make the world a better place.  Things that would make lives better.  My passion is to build something beautiful in the field that I am in… and iOS resonated with me over the last couple of years.  It is a UX masterpiece.  Intuitive.  Simple.  Elegant.  The most beautifully presented OS ever created.  Yet now, the beauty of Scott Forstall’s Skeumorphic design is quickly shadowed by the less attractive, less intuitive Flat UI.

I have always been a fan of iOS because they presented every single bit of information so well that even a child could use it.  My parents, who are computer illiterate in many ways, had no problems using the iPad.  In fact, it’s the first electronic device they spent real time with since I had my first desktop computer in the mid 90′s.  They spend a lot of time using the iPad, consuming media, playing games… and even talking to me via Skype and Facebook through it. I’ve even seen kids not older than 2 years old using the iPad just fine! The UI is amazingly intuitive and well presented, any well informed UI designer would’ve thought that every last detail of it is pure art.

What has iOS7 done wrong? Well… here’s the third installment.

The introduction of iOS7 carries with it animated wallpapers.  These are preset wallpapers that you can immediately choose from after you install the new OS.  One of those wallpapers is a yellow background with bubbles floating around… and it looks like this:

In case you don't see the text... click on the image.

In case you don’t see the texts… click on the image.

There’s text on it? You bet there is!  In fact, if you can’t see the swipe to unlock at the bottom, blow up the image and you’ll see it.

I mean seriously.  Yellow background on white text? It’s preset and nobody cared to check it out? This is what I’m talking about.  iOS7 is all about change… not artistic progress.  It’s to undo the beautiful skeumorphic design in favor of Flat UI which benefits no one except the growing trend of aesthetic regression.

Here’s another one.  I want to talk to John and Marc Paul via SMS.  Yet see how their names are displayed?


Neon green on light background.  Here’s to an insane eyesore on a silver platter… and also in case you didn’t notice, see that ( + ) icon there? It’s inconsistent with other ( + ) icon in iOS7.

By the way, check this out:

Picture 007

Any guesses which App I’m in? If it took you more than two seconds to tell me that I’m in the Notes App, you’re not alone.  Every other app has visual cues to tell you where you are.  For some reason, they seem too lazy to tell you where you are.  Even the abominable Newsstand app tells you you’re in there.  Not here though.  Is it clean… just as how Flat UI advocates rally their philosophy? Yes it is.  Too clean that even any immediate means to identify the app was wiped off.  A search bar would’ve helped, rather than to leave that header blank.

At any rate, at least I can praise one of the UI’s which I think is better than the previous one… and that is Game Center.


From the very start, the Game Center immediately captures your attention.  Those floating balls are NOT Flat UI.  They are visually engaging.  They’re eye candies.  You’d like to interact with it.  That’s what I’m talking about.  Flat UI, in general, is abominable.  Skeumorphism, done rightly, is amazingly great.  It’s what set Apple apart in artistic beauty… and now they’re relinquishing that advantage.

Photos App 

The ‘select’ text on the upper right hand of the screen is to allow you to select a picture to do some extra processing with them.  See below to understand what I mean:


Now what’s the problem here? It’s that the user requires a minimum of two clicks to select a picture for further processing.  One to click the upper left text ‘Select’ and the next is to click the picture itself.  Why do that if you can immediately have a grayed out clickable check icon as shown below?


Again, the goal of UI design is to make things both intuitive and engaging.  It is difficult.  It may even seem impossible.  Yet things done right can make a world of difference.  Don’t think average.  Think Different.

Speaking of UI design, check out how the current Newsstand looks like:

Picture 022

Compare it to how iBooks does it (remember, iBooks is skeumorphic)

Picture 021

iBooks appear to be more visually engaging.  Why? Because it’s NOT Flat.  It is shown with a certain level of detail that is not too explosive and extremely easy to understand.  Skeumorphism is the key to bridge the non-techie world with the geek world… and iOS7 rushes in to eliminate it.

I think the internet media has done skeumorphism a great disservice by pointing out how extremely horrible ‘Find my Friends’ are and I think I agree.  It’s an abominable use of skeumorphism.  But for the rest? I think they’re extremely beautiful, engaging and intuitive.

This moves me to another colorful app in iOS which is reminders.

Color coded text are sometimes helpful.  I use them in emails to quickly differentiate one group of texts with the other.  This is especially useful when working with many texts pertaining to several data all at once.  The color variations allow you to segregate one group of data with another.  If you have been in an email exchange with somebody that uses visual cues such as I have described, or if you have worked directly with me via email when I’m using color cues, you’ll understand what I mean.

photo (1) IMG_2538

There are two problems I can quickly identify just by looking at Reminders.  See that ( + ) icon on both screens? Clicking it on the first screen brings you to the second screen.  But did you know that the second screen, while having that ( + ) icon, it doesn’t really serve any purpose? There’s no real reason for it to be there, yet it’s there.  Call it eagle eye if you wish… but the old skeumorphic iOS6 design will never end up having that visual issue.

Now suppose you go into one of the items there…


The image above shows you a list of items within that list.  Now question: In other screens, you can see a left carat on the upper left corner of the screen to tell you that when you click it, you can go back to where you came from (see my previous post for UI sample).  How do you do it here?

You don’t know?

Well I don’t either.  At least not for the first several seconds.  It turns out that when you want to go back, you click that weird stack of white cards at the bottom of the screen.  Seriously? That’s GOOD User interface design? That’s progress in User Experience? Rubbish.

Now the horror doesn’t end there.  Because it turns out that Passbook also has the same problem:


In case you’re not sure if the cards at the bottom is clickable, yes they are.

In case you’re not sure if the cards at the bottom is clickable, yes they are.  At least it’s easier to identify in Passbook than in Reminders.

Did you also know that the camera has less features when you open it via the Message App rather than the Camera App? See screenshot below:

IMG_2509    IMG_2511

Oh by the way, lookie here!  There’s a Game Center icon at the lower right of the camera app!  Does the new camera app has this gamification idea latched onto it?

Turns out that it doesn’t.  Rather, the icon is to change the color temperature of the image captured by the camera.

photo (2)

Intuitive? Not for the first time at least.

I’ve actually got a couple of screenshots and videos here which I think I’d rather skip.  I might have already been too negative and too critical with iOS.  To be fair, there are a lot of good updates in iOS7.  Some of them I really liked.  For example, the Spotlight is very well placed and the utilities tray is just amazing.

I might just spend some time writing down the positive side of iOS7 too when I free up more time.  And having said that, there’s one iOS7 app that I find no issue with.  Jony Ive should at least be proud.  Which app is it? Well… this:



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