Thousands upon thousands of words have been spilled about the design trends apparent within iOS 7. Whether in the form of broad dismissal or blanket praise, this writing has, however, existed only in an academic vacuum, removed from the reality of the ecosystem.
iOS 7's core design is, of course, worth discussion. Such a topic is indisputably important. But iOS 7 is nothing without the apps that comprise its overall experience — a fact which a great many analysts and onlookers have been all-too-quick to overlook.
Penning lengthy treatises about the mechanics of iOS 7 design, whilst exclusively using iOS 6-designed third party apps for testing, is reductive and short-sighted. iOS 7, just like its predecessors, is not an experience dictated by or constituted of the mechanics of the Weather or Mail apps. It is an experience governed by the apps the user chooses to install from the App Store.
Steve Streza has put together a wonderful Tumblr, Made for iOS 7, which serves as an apt demonstration of precisely how much change the ecosystem is to undergo. Showing apps from developers both large and small, Made for iOS 7 showcases the fundamental alterations occurring across the board for apps in Apple's ecosystem — alterations that will re-shape the iOS experience we've all come to know and appreciate.
Personally, having used the beta on my daily phone for the past few months, I've grown to be a huge proponent of the base-level OS changes. I suspect they'll be cause for significant upset upon iOS 7's public release on Wednesday — a reaction likely to be exacerbated by a bug-ridden iPad version — but, for developers and users of the OS, I think it will prove to be beneficial in the long-run.
Much like the effect of Google's departure from the RSS market this year, iOS 7 serves as a democratizing opportunity for developers to gain relevance and interest in an otherwise difficult-to-be-noticed ecosystem. Those who embrace new UI paradigms and take advantage of the most up-to-date APIs will, for the first time since the App Store's release, have the opportunity to gain mindshare above even the largest names.
The learning curve is going to be steep — a quick look through Made for iOS 7 only serves to confirm this suspicion. But the gains delivered by this update — both for developers and users — will be significant.
Contingent upon the vast majority of users being able to palate the changes, Apple has an enormous opportunity to re-capture the hearts and minds of its mobile users with iOS 7. It's a gamble, but it's one utterly worth the risk.
Some apps will miss the mark, others will become anonymous with uninspired design, some will become irrelevant with a lack of updates, and others will find prosperity where there was previously none. Perhaps there's cause for pessimism and negativity therein, but, personally, I derive excitement more than anything else.
Bring on Wednesday.