I just watched the 2013 WWDC Keynote where iOS 7 was unveiled and these are my raw, first opinions.
If there is a gamut of interface design execution and symbolism where rich, detailed, skeuomorphic design is on the left and flat, robotic, sparse design is on the right, iOS 7 is solidly planted on the right. It’s the anti-iOS 6 and everything before it. Hell, it’s anti-Apple and everything before it.
Pure text-based buttons with no visual indication of buttonness, that is, no shape around them, really don’t look right to me. They look unfinished, naked, unclear and raw. And what makes a text label look different from a tappable label? Just color? Well I hope no one is using color in their interfaces unless everything that’s not black-and-white is tappable.
The proportions of symbols within their boundaries (either in a tab bar or in an icon) look wrong, and big things look smushed into small visual containers.
Gradients are no longer used to suggest the type of realism that a 90° light source would indicate, rather they’re used in icons haphazardly, sometimes shifting between two wholly different hues.
There are no text shadows or box shadows that I could see. There are no subtle indications of curvature in user interface elements. Everything is black, white, or some vibrant, eye-popping hue.
I really wonder what the Apple designers who worked tirelessly on iOS 6 think. Did they think that everything they were designing looked awful before starting to work on iOS 7? Or were they nudged in the “flat design” direction by Jony Ive and then drank the Kool-Aid only after being prodded for awhile? Are they tremendously proud of their work, which is essentially completely different from all their previous work? Do they think that it’s fundamentally better, or just fundamentally different?
I really like some of the interactions and transitions which appear to be more physics-based. Blurring out the previous screen when displaying an overlay looks awesome and has been very difficult to do in the past in iOS without diving close to the bare metal of graphics processing frameworks.
I expected iOS 7 to be much flatter than iOS 6, but still with subtle curvatures, inset highlights and shadows to indicate subtlety and realism and that the interface was emulating some physical materials. I was very wrong. iOS 7 is as flat as a board.