Apple [AAPL] is working on iOS 7, though development is "delayed" according to a prominent Apple blogger who also claims the company is assigning developers from the OS X team to help bring the software back to schedule.
[ABOVE: Might this be the iPhone mini? A product idea rendering from Nickolay Lamm and MyVoucherCodes.co.uk.]
Daring Fireball tells us Sir Jony Ive's iOS team is working hard to deliver the software, which is already being tested using devices equipped with special screen protectors that disguise the OS running on an Apple device.
Development is behind schedule, Gruber argues, claiming Apple has assigned some of its OS X developers to the iOS team to help out. While it seems inevitable this does suggest big changes in the operating system under Ive's command.
iMore's Rene Ritchie states: "Ive's work is apparently making many people really happy, but will also apparently make rich-texture-loving designers sad." You can watch the conversation unfolding here.
So far the biggest changes identified by Apple watchers seem to be the removal of textured app backgrounds. Minimalist Ive is no fan of skeumorphic software design -- it over complicates the interface, betraying the innate design clarity that informs his work.
iOS 7 is important. Not only is it the software glue to underpin the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, but it is also expected to appear in an all-new iPhone model scheduled to ship later this year, and may also be in the driving seat for an iWatch and/or Apple television. (If Apple really is working on these.)
[ABOVE: In a second image, Lamm looks at multi-colored devices.]
Seamless and simple
The decision to divert OS X development resources to the project suggests further integration between the two operating systems.
Delivering seamless near identical experiences across different devices is hard -- just look at the challenges Facebook has in creating such unified expression. To succeed, it's not enough simply to deploy a near identical interface, but also important to ensure UI elements are logical, necessary and intuitive.
iOS 7 will support the next generation iPhone, production of which has already begun. The software also seems scheduled to land on a new low cost (?) iPhone destined for release in time for Christmas.
The latter model is likely to use lower cost components, and may also be available in multiple colors, as illustrated across this article through a series of product idea renderings by Nickolay Lamm, from MyVoucherCodes.co.uk.
These renderings are based on ideas inspired by a recent Apple patent that described a translucent iPhone, in which "internal metal parts" will be visible through the case.
Software is really important. It's through the software Apple can differentiate itself from the increasingly homogenized smartphone market, a market in which innovation appears currently defined by display size.
"Innovation in smartphones has stagnated and I feel that a fun design like this may turn the tables on Apple's competitors, who are always making minor hardware upgrades. Rather than focusing on major hardware innovations or inventing a new form factor, Apple can remind people of the incredible technology that goes into their products. A lot of us are so used to using our smartphones that we forget about what's inside them. The iMac was made translucent so that it would seem less "alien" and more personal, compared to other options which all looked like gray boxes. Apple can incorporate the same idea into the iPhone," writes Lamm.
Maps mistakes are on the radar
Apple learned a big lesson with Maps. It learned that a great product can be let down by sub standard software. With new iPhone models and a bevy of additional products apparently already on the Apple road map, news that development of the operating system has become a high priority is no great surprise.
The firing of Scott Forstall and the decision to put award-winning designer, Jony Ive, in charge of user interfaces strongly suggests Apple has no intention of allowing its mobile OS to subvert a product release ever again.
This means the pressure is well and truly on Apple's design and software department as the company prepares to expand the iOS market once again.
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