June 7, 2013

The World is Flat, and iOS Apps Will Be Too

Flat is the New Black Rumors are running rampant across tech media outlets, including Gizmodo and Bloomberg, about a major visual and architectural overhaul of the user interface design for Apple’s iPhone and iPad applications. If the rumors prove to be true for iOS 7, what does this mean for your business and for your mobile products?
In the short term, Apple is likely to change the visual design to be more “flat” but would keep many of the interactions familiar. What does “flat” mean? It would mean less of a textured feel for objects like app icons, menu bars, headers, and the like. Items that would potentially be gone or radically changed would be rounded corners, drop shadows, glosses, and other effects that give Apple’s icons and OS their signature look.

It’s unlikely to impossible that the changes Apple makes to its user interface design will require wholesale changes to applications that already exist in the marketplace. Long term, however, this likely means that iPhone and iPad applications will need to be responsive to future changes, as well as evolve their visual presentation.

Microsoft has already gone towards a flat aesthetic with the release of Windows 8 and it has had a dramatic (in some cases, negative) effect on users, products and developers. With the movement towards a cleaner, bolder aesthetic across the web, companies will need to re-assess their mobile branding to keep their looks fresh. Updating your products to a flat aesthetic requires even closer attention to understanding users and their ability to distinguish interactive elements.

3 Pillar Global’s UX team can help your business transition and develop a user research regimen in order to take advantage of the evolving visual design landscape while also protecting your customers from confusion. See our product design page to find out more about how we work with clients from a user experience standpoint.