Date posted: June 22, 2013
Written by: Rob Witman
In a word, iOS 7 is polarizing. I have seen a lot of vitriol concerning the design and I have also seen praise. Aesthetically, I find the icons weak at best but I was reminded by @humphriesjm that looking beyond that, one does find an intriguing and powerful layering paradigm. Call it pseudo 3D, but the effect of moving the device and having subtle response / adjustments in the UI is appealing. It adds a level of ‘alive-ness’ that I haven’t experienced previously. Add to that the new physics based UI elements, as seen in the new ‘bouncier’ notifications screen which actually responds to how hard you drop it, and you have some very rich elements with which to craft a world class user experience.
When I first saw these elements during the WWDC conference I thought they were cute and ripe for over use. They will definitely make UIs more dynamic, but it will still take talented people to use them properly. As I continued to think about it further, I wondered, is there more hidden in these elements than just a new paradigm? Likely not, but still, we all want, nay demand, further innovation in our phones. Despite how amazing they are, we aren’t satisfied with just a processor bump any more. The mobile innovation curve feels to have plateaued and we wonder, short of implants, what could make our devices more interesting?
I don’t know that 3D is the answer to that question, but it should certainly be on the table for consideration. 3D TVs haven’t really gained much traction (ESPN being the latest high profile content provider to bow out of 3D broadcasting), but the Nintendo 3DS sure sold a few units. Additionally, the iPhone 6 wouldn’t be the first smartphone with a 3D display, that accolade falls to the HTC Evo 3D. However, it might be the first phone to utilize a 3D display for the actual interface and not just showing off content. That could be revolutionary, bringing about a UX that has depth and space like none before it.
Despite the obvious futility of my speculative post, I couldn’t help pondering if iOS 7 is laying the foundation for a new display on an upcoming device. Until the iPhone 6 is announced next year, there will only be a few people that actually know if 3D is on the table, the rest of us will just have to wait.