While I was at Apple’s annual WWDC this year, the story you couldn’t miss was iOS 7. With drastic changes to user interactions and a whole new visual language, it’s the biggest change to iPhones since third party apps and the App Store were introduced in 2008’s iOS 2.
As the Mobile Technology Lead here at Invoke Labs, this has a huge impact on our products. Moving forward we, along with anyone else developing mobile apps, have to think about what our strategy is going to be in regards to iOS7.
If you’re working on a future project, it’s time to scrap iOS 6 and develop purely for iOS 7. The iPhone userbase adapts quickly. When iOS 6 was released in September of 2012, it only took four days for it to become the top version of iOS. Nearly a year later and adoption rate is at a staggering 93%.
This all means that spending all that extra development and testing time on an older version of iOS, where you will have to adapt and redesign to accommodate a smaller list of features and different interactions, isn’t beneficial. Use that time to take advantage of new opportunities for custom UI and UX and ensure you have built the highest functioning app possible.
Things are a little trickier if you’re updating an existing project though. It really depends on what you’re working on. For apps like WhatsApp that are already cross-platform and compatible with many different OS versions, maintaining iOS 6 support probably makes sense. However, the introduction of iOS 7 is a great time to revisit the core design of your app.
Make sure that when updates happen you design for iOS 7 first, and then work backwards to support others. Your users will update quickly and catch up with you. By utilizing the modern UI you’re much more likely to make a lasting impression on users.
No matter what stage your product is at, there are some important questions to consider when designing for iOS 7. With a flatter design that emphasizes content, you’ll need to find a way to make your app stand out. What will differentiate your app from everything else in the App Store? This focus on content also means that a lot of visual cues have been stripped from the interface. How will this impact your app?
Keep in mind that while you have new interactions and features to explore and take advantage of, the learning curve for some users is going to get steeper. How will you guide your users through this change? How will new interaction patterns affect your design decisions? How will you use iOS 7?