What's new in iOS 7 User Interface – Part 2: Deference

In a previous post, I began describing what changes the introduction of iOS 7 brought to iOS UI/UX dimension. In that post, I listed 4 main principles shaping the idea of iOS flat-UI:

    • Clarity

Here I will try and clarify what a “deferent” UI should be. Again in the New Oxford American Dictionary, I found deference defined as: “humble submission and respect”. As Apple applies this concept to iOS, the subject of deference is meant to be the User Interface itself, while the object of deference is user content. This means that the User interface should not come in the way of user content; UI should not be prominent over content. Rather than that, it should exalt user content.

An example of deference as given by Apple can be found in its Calendar app. Specifically, as you can see in the image below, look at the search bar. In iOS 6 Calendar app, the space bar reduced the available space for user content. In iOS 7, the space bar as such disappears and it is replaced by a magnifier icon; when you tap on it, the search field appears inside of the navigation bar. The navigation bar itself changes its content to adapt to the new context by displaying two buttons: Today and Done.

Another example of deference is provided through the new Notes app. It must be said that the old Notes app was for sure one of the worst in the Apple pack. Here again we find the trick with the search bar disappearing, thus giving more space to content. But comparing two screenshots, it becomes apparent that in the new Notes app content is the king, while in the old one it was shadowed by several UI elements: the typeface used for notes; the strong colors both for the background and the text; grid lines, and so on.

Looking at the Notes app, it is interesting to note that flat-UI under iOS speak does not mean “no texture”. Indeed, the Notes app features a “realistic” (Apple wording) textured white background. It seems that what really matters is that “realistic” UI artifacts are “deferent”, as it happens with the background in the Notes app.

Finally, a great example of deference, i.e., content over UI, is found in the new Weather app. As you can see in the comparison below, gone is the card-like appearance; the only effect of this was some clutter and less usable space. Instead, we found a big background image to represent the current status; a big centered lettering specifying the current temperature; the larger available space allows to add a new textual, more explicit representation of the current weather status and to include one more hour n the detailed hourly forecast.

I hope I could make deference a bit easier to understand as a basic principle of iOS 7 UI. In a future post, I will take in exam the next principle: depth.