Do the iOS 7 Design Changes Go Too Far?

iOS 7 wwdc

Will Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) radically redesigned iOS 7 confuse users? Although the jury is still out on iOS 7 since it hasn’t been fully released to the public yet, the app makers at Entropy Labs note that iOS 7 is “a dramatically new interaction paradigm.”

One of the biggest issues that software developers must deal with when updating any operating system is finding the right balance between novelty and familiarity. A new platform must remain familiar enough so that its users are still able to understand the “language” of its symbols, while simultaneously incorporating enough novel elements to make it seem like an improvement over the previous platform.

Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Vista might be a good example of an operating system that failed to strike a fair balance between novelty and familiarity. Many users felt confused and alienated when Microsoft implemented radical software behavior changes in its Windows Vista operating system.

Apple’s iOS 7 may not be the disaster that Windows Vista was, but Entropy Labs states that, “from a classic HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) standpoint, the current iteration of iOS 7 may actually be far too ahead of its time.”

Whereas Vista confused its users with behavior changes, iOS 7 may confuse some users with its lack of obvious visual cues. The app makers at Entropy Labs note that sometimes, “it’s completely unclear to the user where text becomes a button and (more crucially) where a button becomes a drop-down.”

One of the advantages of the skeuomorphic design philosophy found in Apple’s “classic” iOS is that the reality-based icons gave users strong visual hints to interpret the meaning represented by the symbols. However, since users have become more sophisticated and accustomed to how touchscreens look and operate, Apple’s iOS 7 developers felt comfortable removing some of the “obvious” visual cues, such as borders on buttons.

Although Apple’s latest mobile operating system may have a higher than usual learning curve, the payoff for users and developers might make it worth the extra effort. Entropy Labs predicts that iOS 7 app developers are going to spend, “more (not less!) time iterating and testing our designs.”

Here’s how Apple has traded over the past five days.

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