Sweating the wrong details

ios 7 date picker UI

How iOS 7 too often focused on the wrong details to “fix”

Many of the changes in iOS 7 were superficial. The big flat design change. People will quickly point out that it was a simplication, and not a flat one, that actually changed much for the better. They would be partially correct, but I know so many people who really dislike it.

I was in an elevator recently where a woman pulled out her phone from her hand bag to dismay. Her face was shrivelled as she exclaimed “who did something to my phone!

I asked her “did you upgrade to iOS 7?”, to which she replied “huh?”. Uh oh. “Did you hit ‘Ok’ on a popup recently without reading it?”. “Oh last night I did something…. wanted to get rid of the pop up.”

Welcome to iOS 7. Now whenever you see a redesign you instantly get a Facebook group created called “WHY WE MUST MAKE THEM CHANGE $IT BACK!”

I mentioned some of my likes and dislikes when I discussed the notion of customizations in mobile. What gets me about iOS 7 is that Apple is often the kind of incremental forward progress. They clean up what was once messy.

However, this time around it feels like many opportunities were missed. When you make a drastic change, couldn’t you make some drastic changes?


One example is the date picker UI component. I have always disliked this control. I mean, when I use it I feel like I am either on a game show like the Price Is Right, spinning away… or I feel like I did as a kid changing the times on radio alarms… with my finger pushing away. Back then there was limited real estate and the UI couldn’t morph thanks to an amazing screen. We don’t live in a time with those constraints, so what can we do? With iOS 7 we not only didn’t see a new crack at it, but it actually got worse, with poor touch targets and more. And when you look at the complexity, you picture a team working tirelessly to get the effect :/

The new Android calendar control

Android shows us one way with their update in Google Calendar. Here you are shown the info one at a time, and can easily jump to anywhere and then dial it in from there. Much nicer.

This is such a painful action for me, that in my own UIs (as in, UI for apps that I write for myself only) I just use langage to set the time. For example, I can tap on a time and type “6pm y” as shorthand for 6pm yesterday (defaults to am).

Who is ahead of the game of iterating on the UI to be as touch and mobile friendly as possible? It isn’t just Apple no mo’.

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