Everyones a critic. By now, the heated debates taking place in the aftermath of Apples annual WWDC conference have become so routine, tech pundits seem to look forward to the discussion even more so than the announcements themselves. Most critics are divided into two camps only: Love It and Hate It. Many of them (and us) struggle to look at Apples new designs objectively, and with good reason.
Hundreds of millions of people now have an almost symbiotic relationship with their iPhones, iPads, Macs, and/or Macbooks; we use these things to communicate, to connect, to learn, to complete tasks, to listen to music. So with every significant shift in Apples design or product line, Apple users are reminded that they arent in the drivers seat when it comes to the development of gadgets upon which the convenience of their daily lives depend; and that reminder can be a bit unsettling, though granted it would mostly be a “first-world” problem. But did this years WWDC prove that Apple itself is still in the drivers seat of mobile innovation for the entire mobile market? For now, Ill say the answer is both Yes and No.
Ive written previously my thoughts on Apples need to innovate like the old days of 2008 when the first iPhone was launched into the market, forever changing how we used smartphones. While this years WWDC did not include such a monumental announcement, the fact is operating system design will soon become as important as the hardware and devices that run it. Advanced gestures and hands-free user interaction are now becoming the norm (hello, Google Glass and Samsungs Galaxy S4), not the future; and previous operating system designs simply werent built to accommodate the scalability needed to account for these new user experiences.
Because of this newfound flexibility with user interfaces, the look of Apples new iOS 7 design has very little to do with how it will perform as an operating system. Im much more curious how it will integrate with Apples newer, yet-to-be-announced hardware, beyond the handheld devices that are currently available to consumers. While theres been plenty of speculation about an Apple smartwatch, we cannot underestimate Apples ability to keep secrets about even more innovative products. For now, were left debating iOS 7s visual elements like color palette, typography, and translucency; and while all these are an important part of the debate over iOS 7s design, they certainly shouldnt frame the argument.