It’s no surprise to say that when Apple speaks, people listen. No less surprising, but almost always infinitely more predicable—people react. With the vigor and unbridled enthusiasm (thanks, Elaine) usually reserved for politics and conclusions to JJ Abrams’ television series, people have once again taken to their nearest social media outlet to curse in blood or defend tooth and nail a system that they’ve not yet used nor had the opportunity to interact with.
That’s not to say those feelings aren’t warranted. Those of us in design are constantly rubbing shoulders with iOS, even if we’re not specifically working with UI on a daily basis. It’s embedded into the companies we work for, the apps we use to pass the time, and has long since been the brainchild of a design monolith that towers over the community at large. To say that our industry doesn’t have some sort of vested interest in the direction of where Apple chooses to take their platform is optimistically ignorant.
Truthfully, there are going to be the “haters”. You’re not going to satisfy any of them, but hey, that’s what YouTube is for. Then there are those that are purely above it all and complain about all the complaining and implicate anyone who has any emotional or intellectual attachment to these glassy panels in the first place.
Pro tip: One’s not really better than the other.
But what I really want to call attention to at this point is the in-between. Somewhere between protest and apathy; between unrestrained outrage and overprotective fandom. As a community, we’re able to hold town hall anytime we’d like. I, for one, wouldn’t suggest you wave this right. Your opinion is as valid as mine. But how you go about expressing your opinion lies completely with you. Do you want to belligerently beat someone over the head with your malicious, overtly damning review? Do you want to be seen as the kind of person that stands on a hill judging all the rest of the “sheep” who care so much about something so frivolous that you’d dare not be bothered any time of the day for? What people care about matters. Some like sports. Some like video games or food or underwater basket weaving. It’s not our place to throw stones at those that have interests. But it’s our job to be mindful of our response. The things we say, the ways we behave. Especially when things are written in permanent ink—online.
Not that I’m beyond any of this. In fact, this is probably more a lesson for myself as I write this than for anyone else. But as an industry, playing this game where we take it upon our selves to immediately post a *better* version on Dribbble, claiming “I couldn’t look at those iOS icons anymore so this is how I would have made it” or anything of the like isn’t particularly helpful or professional. That’s without even speaking on the quality of most of them.
I understand the temptation when it comes to Apple. They’ve made it a scripted standard to openly call out and criticize other companies. They scoff at comparative numbers from a glass house, and it’s apparent to everyone that this truly is a situation where the kids who got picked onare now the kids doing the bullying. You’re not going to kill the “fat kid” mentality on a corporate level by hurling half-baked “like”-seeking redesigns. After all, the Republican Party still exists (just kidding, friends). It’s only natural that some would respond aggressively when corporate arrogance leaves you wide open for attack on your internal weaknesses, and yet I can’t help but feel that in some ways, we’re missing the whole point. I can only hope that the mistakes made on iOS 7 are felt and understood by the creators and directors.
Are there glaring concerns and inconsistencies on the part of iOS 7? Absolutely.
Could the iconography be vastly improved? Yes and yes.
But we can take time before we post. Take a moment. Take a breath. The internet will still be here when you get back. For those that don’t know you personally, what you project into this digital ocean is all that they know of you. Don’t spend that time talking down to other living, breathing people who may or may not share your interests or opinions.
Talking about what could be better and offering helpful solutions isn’t a bad thing. Critiquing one of the most widely used OS platforms in the world isn’t off-limits, but your insight is that much more valuable when it’s concise and not riddled with judgmental, predatory ulterior motives.
Personally, I believe Apple’s thinking is in the right place. Though I don’t particularly think they’ve quite arrived when it comes to the visual language—specifically the iconography. Problems of scale, color, and style are converging into a disjointed, confusing visual experience. But it’s not irreparable. And it’s not done.
And neither are we. Which should be one of the most comforting things about the work we get to do.