Jony Ive Explains Why He Decided To Gut Skeuomorphism From iOS 7

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With the launch of iOS 7 yesterday Apple made some bold steps to ditch the rich textures, shadowing, and other skeuomorphic elements that have been a staple on the iPhone since 2007.

Thanks to the departure of iOS Software Chief Scott Forstall back in October, Sir Jony Ive was given a bigger role in iOS software development, so to hype up the launch of Jony’s first software masterpiece, he and Apple’s new SVP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, sat down with USA Today to give some details on what went into the creation of iOS 7.

According to Jony, the decision to strip iOS of all its shadows and physical references was pretty easy once they got Forstall out the door:

“When we sat down last November (to work on iOS 7), we understood that people had already become comfortable with touching glass, they didn’t need physical buttons, they understood the benefits,” says Ive. “So there was an incredible liberty in not having to reference the physical world so literally. We were trying to create an environment that was less specific. It got design out of the way.”

Frederighi also chimed in that iOS 7 was a logical step now that people have become so familiar with their devices and the software:

“This is the first post-Retina (Display) UI (user interface), with amazing graphics processing thanks to tremendous GPU (graphics processing unit) power growth, so we had a different set of tools to bring to bear on the problem as compared to seven years ago (when the iPhone first launched). Before, the shadowing effect we used was a great way to distract from the limitations of the display. But with a display that’s this precise, there’s nowhere to hide. So we wanted a clear typography.”

Whether you like the new gradient-filled look of iOS 7 or not, it’s definitely a bold step for Apple, and according to USA Today it’s giving designers more confidence in Apple’s ability to wow. The entire interview with Jony and Craig is full of interesting tidbits about how the two approach design together, so make sure to head over and read the whole thing.

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  • segwayne

    skeuomorphism isn’t the be-all, end-all of things, but after using it for 24 hours now, I’m really not a fan of the bland and flat look at all. It feels almost soulless and has none of the personality I’ve loved since the first day I bought my 3G all those years ago. Not a fail. I love some of the (stolen from jailbreakers) improvements, but the “Jony Ive does software experience” so far rates a D+ grade in my book.

  • plowery

    Is it weird that I read the Johnny Ive quotes in “his voice” ??? Great job on iOS 7. Loving it so far!

  • Drshemming

    I didn’t like IOS7 when I first started using it when the first developer beta was released, but once I got more used to it I now love it, I have been using it on an Iphone 4s and it definitely runs faster.

  • segwayne

    I have been using it on an Iphone 4s and it definitely runs faster.

    I wonder what I’m doing wrong then, because iOS 7 on my 4s feels dog slow with all the cutesy zoomy windows and animations. It’s like loading Windows on a fast machine only to turn on all the extra look and feel features which really bog the whole thing down…

  • Sol
    I have been using it on an Iphone 4s and it definitely runs faster.

    I wonder what I’m doing wrong then, because iOS 7 on my 4s feels dog slow with all the cutesy zoomy windows and animations. It’s like loading Windows on a fast machine only to turn on all the extra look and feel features which really bog the whole thing down…

    My mother is using the 4 and i see bits of lag here and there but not slow. 4s uses dual core so it shouldn’t really lag at all… I was hesitant to upgrade to iOS7 because of past experiences where there were alot of issues. My iPad is having battery issues at the moment where the iOS is draining it’s battery a lot.

  • VirtualVisitor

    The speed and functionality is great. The look is dull and stupid – and the glaring, bright colors don’t fix that.

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Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Social Media Editor. Hailing from Roswell, New Mexico, but now spending his days in Phoenix, Arizona, he wastes most of his time eating burritos and reading Spanish romance novels. Twitter: @bst3r.

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