Section 508

August 8th, 2013

7 ways to optimize your app for iOS 7


The most radical difference in iOS 7 is the completely redesigned user interface. Not only did Apple change the designs, they completely rewrote the platform’s design language. The new interface is now playing on the popular ‘flat’ design style. Apple has completely moved away from the ‘realistic’ and 3D design styles everyone is used to.

Aside from the flattening of graphics, the interface is now layered and features a new color scheme. Even things as basic as font and button shapes have changed. This poses a huge challenge to developers because not only do they need to update their apps to take advantage of the new iOS features, but any developer that doesn’t completely overhaul their app design to be in sync with this new UI will have their app looking quite stale very quickly.

The Bare Minimum

I would say the bare minimum changes that developers should be making are little things like updated icons (which is an Apple requirement), keyboard, colouring, etc.:

  • The new flat approach – not skeuomorphic, so update your icons
  • Lighter colors – the new iOS 7 is predominantly white
  • No borders- iOS rarely uses lines and bars to break up buttons and sections, instead using the text as a button itself
  • Keyboard- iOS7 incorporates a redesigned keyboard. Apps using the previous versions of the keyboard will look very outdated

Going above and beyond

Things like transparent menus, swiping navigation, new SDK features, would all be going above and beyond:

  • Swipe Navigation – the new OS allows users to swipe left to right to go back to previous screens in apps like mail and iTunes, so when they get used to that feature, make sure it’s available in your app
  • Transparent menus- iOS 7 has a lot of see-through menus and screens, where it blurs the images behind the menu

Keep up with the styles

It’s important to update the look and feel of your apps because iOS 7 includes a new multi-tasking feature that puts your app side-by-side with other apps that are open. Companies like Facebook, Twitter, etc. have already released new versions of their apps with updated flows, icons, and more. Developers not updating their apps for the release of iOS 7 will have their apps looking archaic. Also, not updating your application code could cause performance issues.

If designers want to make their apps feel updated and new along with the new iOS they should at the very least be incorporating the flat design and updated color schemes. However, by adding a transparent menu and swipe navigation you will REALLY be perceived as cutting edge.

Take advantage of the new features

Of course, updates go beyond just design changes. While a new look is the obvious change, Apple has also updated many APIs and introduced new ways for developers to leverage OS-level features within their apps. Some of the most exciting inclusions in the updated SDK are:

  • Text-to speech
  • Scrolling Motion effects
  • In-app background downloads
  • Multi-tasking APIs
  • Apple Maps direction APIs
  • Barcode scanning
  • Peer-to-Peer connectivity
  • Blinking and Smiling Detection

If you look past the design and technical changes of iOS7, you see it is an opportunity for developers to take fresh look at their applications. So don’t just think about how you to make minor changes to adjust the design and technical changes, but take a step back and rethink the unique opportunity to make substantial improvements. Times like this are few and far between, so take advantage of the fact that users will already be working to get used to the all the new changes iOS7, and take the chance to make some big updates yourself!


Image courtsey of Marc Clancey

Tags: app development development Golden Gekko iOS iphone OS

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