A couple of days ago I wrote a blog post for the Somo blog on iOS 7 and what it actually means to users, devs, and brands with apps. The full article is copied below.
One of my favourite things about working at Somo is the fact that I am constantly surrounded by 140+ mobile specialists, all passionate about any new mobile release. We talk, compare, and argue about every tiny mobile related announcement. Yesterday, was of course Apple’s WWDC developers conference where we knew that Apple would announce some pretty major changes to their mobile operating system. As we all know now, the major announcement was iOS 7 – a brand new, designed-from-the-ground-up operating system that brings hundreds of changes to the look and feel of the iPhone.
While the conference was taking place we were all engaged in a pretty lively all-Somo email conversation. Below are some of the key points taken from that thread, highlighting some of the big changes iOS 7 will bring to the Apple developer community, all iPhone users, and any client or brand with an iPhone app.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, said this was the “biggest update to the iPhone since the iPhone”, and for consumers, it is. Is it ‘flat’? Who cares? It is beautiful. The iPhone software now looks dramatically different at first glance… and at every interaction. New look, new animations, new everything; for iPhone owners this will make their phone look like a new handset. This will likely make people fall back in love with their aging iPhones.
iPhone owners may find the complete lack of Google a bit of an issue if they rely heavily on services such as YouTube, Google Maps, or Google search. Apple have been quietly removing Google services during the last few updates, and now they are all gone. Expect sub-par search, maps, and no default video app. **edit** This is slightly incorrect. Google is still the default search engine for Safari, it has been changed to Bing for Siri results. Also, in some non-UK markets it has been replaced by Yandex. **/edit**
Firstly, the Somo developers are loving the unknown challenges that the new OS brings – who doesn’t love a challenge? For developers iOS 7 means lots of performance unknowns, there are lots of questions around the newly added multitasking functionality, and lots of queries about supporting iOS 6 and below at the same time as iOS 7.
Importantly, Apple announced 1,500 new APIs with iOS 7. Essentially this means lots and lots more opportunities to make apps look and move slicker. At Somo HQ we are really excited about the animations API – rightly so, play with iOS 7 for two minutes and you will be too – as they will help us to create apps that look stunning in movement. The animations and transitions built into iOS already help iPhone apps to look nicer in motion than Android apps, we expect the new animations API in iOS 7 to widen the gap between developing slick experiences for iPhone above Android. The new APIs will allow us to design interfaces with a greater blend between the software and hardware, resulting in more control of the iPhone hardware, creating richer, deeper experiences. Take that, mobile web!
Developers now have a lot more to play with
For brands with an iPhone app, design is now going to be more important than ever. This means the possibility of lots of design reviews for quite a few companies and apps, much like when iOS 5 was released and everyone had to consider how to design for the larger iPhone 5 screen. With iOS 7 it isn’t a new size we have to think about but a new design language and new transition guidelines. Hopefully this will lead to a flurry of more beautiful apps in the app store as a beautiful OS drives beautiful software.
Of course there is more to the new operating system than meets the eye, with a bunch of new API’s that include notification sync and more powerful enterprise solutions. With these APIs brands can really start to integrate their apps more deeply with the OS and create much better experiences. Plus with full multi-tasking we have to think harder about battery drain that can be caused by apps running in the background.
Automatic app updates means that brands can always be sure that users will have their latest version. Geographically popular apps also give brands the opportunity to create apps that may be best suited to a particular location – an app for Goodwood for example. The app Wishlist feature also allows for users to earmark apps that they may want to download at a later date, meaning brands are less likely to lose out to users with a poor connection.
The new App Store, with automatic update downloads and popular app near you
For the record, my views have evolved over the last couple of days and I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the visual design of iOS 7; it seems awfully bleak. I am also hoping that the lag is due to the fact this is a dev build!