Apple, guided by design minimalist Sir Jony Ive, is updating the look of iOS for the upcoming iOS 7 launch, making it cleaner, simpler and more visually consistent - if a fuzzy leaked screenshot is any indication.
A leaked screenshot of iOS 7 apparently running on an iPhone* has been scanned hungrily for clues about the next version of Apple's mobile operating system. Recreating the image painstakingly, a designer has concluded that the app icons are flatter, cleaner, simpler and more easily identifiable; not to mention visually more consistent. Jony Ive, who has been 'key' to the development of iOS 7 and is known for his preference for clean design, seems to have demanded a more unified look.
The icons for Apple's own apps in iOS 6 (Phone, Mail, Weather and the rest) have been designed by various teams over a number of years and have diverged somewhat: some have borders, some have cross-hatching lines, some are glossy and so on. The screenshot suggests that Apple has decided to give the apps a more consistent look.
The leaked iOS 7 screenshot, as you can see below, is terribly low-quality, but iDownloadBlog got a designer to check it out and recreate the icons on screen.
They concluded that iOS 7 will see the icons for Apple's own apps redesigned in the following ways:
No diagonal stripes: The Phone icon has lost its crosshatching and matches other, flatter icons.
No glossy finish: Appl's icons were split about 50/50 between gloss-effect and matt icons, as iDownloadBlog points out: it would make sense for Apple to pick one and go with that throughout. Matt seems to be the choice. (The blog speculates that Apple could go further and remove the coding option to create the gloss effect entirely, making third-party icons fit the overall look too.)
No borders: The Settings app, one of only two Apple apps with a border, has lost it. Will Reminders follow suit? Surely.
Further changes to Weather, Video and Game Center icons: The visual quality of the leaked iOS 7 screenshot makes it hard to be sure exactly what's happened, but Game Center has clearly been completely redesigned. iDownloadBlog thinks it might be a picture of two boxing gloves. The Weather and Video icons have been more subtly altered, with Weather losing the potentially confusing, static 'temperature' numeral and Video seemingly gaining a little triangle 'play' symbol.
Mockup of new app icons for iOS 7, created by Surenix based on the screenshot above
Be sceptical, of course: the screenshot hasn't officially been confirmed as iOS 7, and any number of elements could change before the iOS 7 unveiling, at WWDC 2013 or elsewhere. But these small changes do fit in with what we'd been hearing about iOS 7 - a cleaner, simpler look, with more consistency and fewer walls between teams. It also fits in with what we know about Sir Jony.
* Slightly oddly/interestingly, it seems to be an iPhone 4S (or even earlier), going by the number of rows of icons. Tentatively good news for those with slightly older hardware?