Apple’s iOS 7 Demo Shows Inconsistent Buttons

| Editorial

As I watched the keynote on Monday it struck me how different everything in iOS 7 looked. I don't mean different from iOS 6 – that's obvious and expected – I noticed just how different each app in iOS 7 looked from its brethren. Check out the buttons below for the new/updated Safari, Photos, and Music apps in iOS 7 (you can see full app screenshots for yourself at Apple's iOS 7 page).

Which is it? Wireframe, shaded shapes, text, no text? Have the people who made each of these apps met? Apple is pushing out an entirely new design scheme to developers, encouraging them to comply with the New Way Of Thinking About Buttons™, and yet Apple can't even internally agree on what these elements should look like.

Yes, I get that Apple only showed us the first beta release, but third-party developers – the people who make the apps you and I use every day – have limited time to start getting their apps ready for the iOS 7. That means they need to know today what their apps should look like. They need guidance from Apple, not just in terms of documentation but also by example as to how this stuff is supposed to look and work. 

And it seems like Apple hasn't even decided yet.

A year from now this won't be an issue, so perhaps that also means it doesn't matter now, but I think it does. Hopefully developers at WWDC in the labs are asking Apple these same questions, and hopefully Apple will provide some clear guidance to all developers Real Soon Now™.

Popular TMO Stories



I think the Safari icons may be more confusing than the other examples shown. The only 2 Safari icons I get are the ‘back’ & ‘forward’ buttons.

But based on the examples above Apple does need to convene a meeting of the “Human Interface Guidelines” folks and settle on a unified look, and then spam email every coder in Apple with a link to the ‘new’ rules page…

And if the coders still misbehave, maybe someone should drop a Claris on them, or get a Ouija board out and summon up the ghost of Steve Jobs and have him haunt the miscreants into submission…


In terms of text/no-text, you’re confusing *tool* bars with *tab* bars.

Toolbars, as in your Safari example, have buttons that perform actions (back, forward, open bookmarks, open tabs interface, etc.). They are of limited height, so only allow an icon *or* text, not both.

Tab bars, as in your other two examples, are for switching views completely: playlists or artists view; photos or album view. Tab bars are taller, and thus have space for an icon *and* text.

As to wireframe vs. shaded shapes, I agree with you that it seems very inconsistent.

Rowland Newell

Lots of inconsistency throughout. I’m sure it’ll get fixed but do hope they make the right choices. Not sure of the wisdom of the Helvetica skinny font in some places as pretty illegible.

Safari promises much in terms of new features but at the moment the UI is a clusterf*ck.

As you say it is Beta 1 and will surely be fixed. For now I’m back to iOS6 and after my 24Hr flirt it seems like a new phone!

Brian S

These 60+ yr old eyes already struggle with hidden buttons and this upgrade seems to be aimed at 20 yr old eyes.


The genres icon for the iTunes should show guitar, violin and banjo.



Consistency or not, I miss the slight depth of iOS 6. I agree the green felt and stitched leather are silly, but this looks way too much like Microsoft’s Modern UI (the UI formerly known as Metro). Maybe I’ll get used to it in time.


I’ve used iOS 7 for a day and a half, and I really like it. It’s kind of weird how iOS 6 does look overly complex and… fat, comparatively. Now that I’m getting accustomed to 7, it just feels so much cleaner, lighter and less intrusive than 6. I do have one issue with 7, though; There’s an overabundance of white, where there could be a little color, throughout the built-in apps. I don’t mean that it should be a rainbow; It could just use a little more muted, unobtrusive color, to help indicate dividing spaces and/or reduce glare. spashes of cool tones would be good. A good example of what I’d like is more of the Weather app. If the animated background is too much, then just have it be a faint tone of a color that would represent the current weather conditions. Of course, that’s all subjective and it really isn’t a big deal.


To clarify my last statement, I think that the weather app is a GOOD example of a little more color in the OS, without increasing complexity. The idea of adding the colored background was to show a way to use color appropriately, in other apps. I mean, why can’t notes have a -faint- yellow background, to make it a little more note-like? Or would that still represent to much of a death-grip for skeumorphism?


@Brian S: iOS 7 has controls to make the default font bigger and thicker, if the user wants/needs it that way. That can even be turned on so that it will look that way in apps that support it.

@Rowland Newel: I kinda’ agree with your comment about Safari’s current state, but it has promise. I think that it just needs a bit of cleaning up.

@mrmwebmax: iOS 7 still does have some slight depth, in places. There are numerous places where thinks are layered and space is implied between the layers; (See the home screen.) In iTunes, iRadio stations are represented by stacks of albums; When switching apps, the way that the app windows seem to move back, away from the screen, then float above the background, definitely makes the image feel deep; Then you have switching tabs in Safari. As others, more qualified to dissect design than I am, have said, iOS 7 is definitely NOT flat. I think a better descriptive for it would be ‘sleek’.


As was pointed out on a “competing” Apple blogsite, iOS7 is a “work in progress”, and I’m sure we’ll see all kinds of changes, minor and major, in the months leading up to its eventual release.


Dave - thank you for this objective and balanced analysis.  I agree.  It’s reassuring to see some professional critical writing on this site, versus some of the fan boy excess (e.g., the whole Samsung’s delusion of relevance article AND podcast was overkill of a simply irrational thesis - talk about reaching).


Has anyone else noticed that *every single* iPhone on the Apple website for OS7, and *every single* iPhone in the video presentation is a *white* model? either the new interface looks lousy on black (who would know?) or there is an incredibly strong force (read : the hand of Sir Jon) to make the phones look like a graphic layout.  I personally am not convinced that what we see happening here is all for the good (do we *really* like the new color palette?)  I think I’m going to miss the 3D buttons and other such “nonsense” ...


My god.  With every article I see on iOS7, it gets uglier and uglier.


Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account