Can we admit that the iOS interface, as introduced in
While iOS has chugged on from year to year (rigidly eschewing the back button favoured in Android and, latterly, Windows Phone), other user interface ideas have come in. WebOS and the BlackBerry PlayBook brought the idea of viewing your multitasking apps on a flat carousel, and killing apps by swiping them upwards, or choosing them by pressing on them. BB10 introduced the neat swipe left to move back to a previous screen. Android offered quick ways to access your Wi-Fi and other settings without necessarily unlocking the phone.
So iOS needed an update. The defenestration of
It also performs a neat, and necessary, optical illusion: not its "parallax" effect (put a photo on the lock screen and tilt the phone; the photo seems to gain real depth), but making the phone's screen seem larger. This, together with its introduction of screen-invariant gestures, may be the most important thing it does.
Seeing's a sort of believing
Above are screenshots of a lock screen, one running iOS 6, the other iOS 7. One looks bigger. Howcome? iOS 7 removes more of the chrome, and especially gets rid of the black bars at top and bottom of the screen. At first this is disconcerting; it feels like being on stairs without a handrail. But it quickly becomes familiar, so that going back to iOS 6 feels like walking back into a cave.
The importance of this "bigger screen" effect can't be overstated. I think that Apple has a real challenge on its hands in the smartphone market. Lots of people expected it to zig towards a much cheaper phone in order to attract buyers in
Where does Apple get its customers from? People upgrading, and people switching from old featurephones and other smartphones. (There's traffic in the other direction, from iPhone to Android and others, though in the US at least substantially more coming in than going out.) But here's the thing: hardly anyone switches from a bigger screen to a smaller one. So someone who gets a large-screen Android phone is far less likely to switch to smaller iPhone than the other way, other things being equal. But Apple hasn't changed the size of iPhone screens this year. (It did that last year.) So iOS 7 has to make screens look bigger than iOS 6 did. How? Get rid of the black bars, and the darkness generally.
Another thing that iOS 7 does, I think, is to lay the groundwork for larger iPhone screens - because navigation can increasingly be done through gestures at the screen edges, rather than reaching diagonally with your thumb across to a "back" button. (It's physically impossible to do without shifting your hand position on an HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S4; it's only just possible on the iPhone 5.) I think Apple is getting developers and users ready for bigger screens - something the
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