Apple’s App Design Comfort Zone

iOS is fundamentally the same as it was back in 2007, and therefore many users are bored. TechCrunch call out to Apple to begin experimenting with app design:

Apple hasn’t done much to change the way iOS works at its core, in terms of navigating within and between apps and the home screen. In fact, iOS is maybe the mobile OS that has remained the most fundamentally the same since its introduction, at least among those that are still in active use. But while Apple hasn’t been making huge changes to the basic iOS user interface, third-party developers have been pushing the boundaries and creating great examples of how things could be better for a next-generation version of Apple’s mobile OS.

But I disagree. Developers don’t lead when it comes to the future of iOS user interface design. Third party app developers have created some stunning and experimental interfaces as of late, but this doesn’t mean Apple should follow suit. Sure, iOS needs some visual refreshes here and there, and Forstall’s infamous skeumorphic design ideology would not go amiss, but Apple should rely on sticking within their guidelines, and pushing the boundaries of it, as opposed to creating all new, albeit innovative interfaces which bear no resemblance to the iOS we know today.

In the changes Apple will inevitably make to iOS, with Ive at the lead of Human Interface, they should explore alternatives and changes to the guidelines they follow. They likely also understand that not everyone is comfortable navigating a UI with extensive gestures and many less confident users rely on buttons to tell them how to do things, so these changes will not be drastic.

It’s fundamental that Apple consider accessibility at all times, even if App Store apps don’t. Experimental interfaces are all good and well, until a blind person, or someone with restricted use of their hands starts to use an app. If you buy a 3rd party app which is not universally friendly, you understand that people with limitations won’t be able to use it. If you are disabled and buy a phone where the stock apps are not accessible, then you’re going to feel excluded.

Leaving interface norms is interesting for us users, but some forms of design innovation are only suited to third party, optional apps. Apple will likely evolve the feel of iOS, yet I wouldn’t expect, or ask for them to replace reminders with something like Clear, or clock with Rise. Lets just hope they fix the App Store before anything else.