Preparing Applications for iOS7 Support

29. September 2015

In June 2013, Apple has released a new version of their operating system—iOS7. Unlike the previous updates, which had been more or less an evolution, the new version came with a brand new interface, making a thick black line behind the old skeuomorphic approach to the user interface design.

The UI of iOS7 is flat, opaque, icons, are simple, backgrounds do not have patterns. Since the first screenshots, it was obvious the leap in the new UI is really significant.

The main question is: what about the “old” apps? Do they need to be updated? Generally, all the iOS applications will run under iOS7. However, some changes are needed for every application. As was said, iOS7 handles many things differently. The developer must pay attention to the things like navigation bar colours, icons, slightly different navigation logic and so on. Generally, the overall effort needed for enhancing an old app can take roughly 15 % of the original effort. The amount depends on how “custom” the UI is—the less standard the user interface is, the more problem can the developer have when porting the app to iOS7.

However, even if the basic iOS7 support is added to the application, it will still remain to look “ancient” on the new system. The new interface is flat, bright, colourful, and, unlike the old approach, stripped to the bone and kept clean and simple. Among the apps with the new iOS7 based interface, the app not leveraging the new approach will look outdated and will surely be less attractive to the potential customers. Because of this, one should consider to redesign the interface completely. Although this will require a lot of effort, it can become a significant marketing advantage. Also, one can take advantage of the new features introduced in iOS7 during the redesign process and offer new experiences.

Obviously, Apple is aware of the impact the new update has and that many apps have to support old versions of the operating system. Because of that, it is recommended not to remove the old user interface and keep it for use on the devices with iOS6 and older. This is a significant advantage for the older applications—the “old” UI is already present, the only task that remains is to design a new interface for iOS7. As was said, every app should be revised at least how it looks on iOS7.

The problem is quite similar to the situation a few years ago when Apple introduced the iPhone 4 with Retina display—in order to preserve a nice look, every application had to be revisited and its graphic assets had to be updated to support the new resolution. Also, for the applications that need to preserve top-notch look, a complex UI update is necessary. It is also possible to create a brand-new UI for iOS7 and keep the old interface for use on iOS6 devices.

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