Archive for the ‘IOS’ Category

Lisa Frank. Dayglo Barbie. Rainbow unicorn. Fisher
Price. A mess, trouble, confusing. Marketing
department. What are, “words used to describe the iOS 7 redesign,” Alex? Now that the Apple keynote beer goggles have worn off, the polarizing makeover
of Apple’s iOS 7 operating system is starting to sink
in. Surely, this is not it? This is not done, right? Given its “beta” label – which Apple actually uses
correctly – there’s a good chance that many of our
quibbles with the disjointed OS will be fixed by the
time of its public release later this fall. But one of the
most upsetting things about the makeover is
unfortunately one of the most visible: the icons. They’re inconsistent, they seem rushed, and in some
cases, they’re just downright ugly. Apple has billions of dollars in cash just sitting
around, and it couldn’t buy itself a set of nice-looking
icons? And don’t give me that “they only had eight months”
crap. I know plenty of people who would forgo eating,
sleeping and sunlight for less than even a single billion to pump out better icons than this in that same time frame. Well, Apple’s misstep is’s gain. The
online community for designers is having a moment
as its users try to fix all Apple’s mistakes. And some
of these third-party makeovers are actually quite
good, too. Above: Apple’s version is on the right. One, in fact, is now becoming one of the most-viewed
images on the site. Ever. The iOS 7 redesign here,
created by 20-year old UI/UX designer Leo Drapeau
has, as of today, reached over 97,000 views. Drapeau, who’s currently living in Paris and is
pursuing his Bachelor’s in Web Design at a school
called EEMI, says he made his version of the
redesign in a few hours. “I was following the WWDC keynote, and I was really
excited about the overall UX and UI changes and
evolutions in iOS 7, but the icons of the homescreen
bugged me,” he explains. “So, I just wanted to refined
them a little, to make them cleaner and more
harmonized, but not to reinvent the whole design.” Drapeau downplays his work, humbly adding, “there’s
really nothing revolutionary about this post. I think it
just got popular because it was one of the first
redesigns on the site.” However,’s co-
founder Rich Thornett tells us that Drapeau’s image
here is the second-most viewed attachment the website has ever had.
Meanwhile, another in the set is currently the third-
most viewed shot ever, and just a couple hundred
views from reaching #2. The student designer’s work has clearly struck a
chord. The set of iOS 7 images now has ten pages
and hundreds of comments, most of them positive
and some offering tips as to how the design could be
improved a bit further with minor tweaks. Overheard at TechCrunch while clicking through
Drapeau’s work: “I didn’t realize how much I missed
the drop shadows.” And on “nice,” “better,” “bravo,” and
“perfect!” Drapeau says he’s been making little updates based
on some of the remarks – for example, with the third
version of the redesign, he modified the Compass
icon entirely, bringing it closer to the real one. Since then, he has also uploaded a final update, with
all the previous changes and other improvements to
the Clock, Stock, Compass, and Mail icons, and also
added a Dark mode and Light mode, depending on the
wallpaper you use. (You can see an earlier version of the design above,
and the newer one with the more Apple-like Compass
beneath it). Since the post, Drapeau says he’s received several
work inquiries, mainly from individuals and startups,
both French and American, as well as internships and
job offers from bigger companies. But he’s continuing
with his schooling and side projects for now. iOS 7 isn’t all bad by any means, though it has a
number of issues to address between the beta and
the release. Many of those are under-the-hood
changes, however, or less obvious quirks like the
confusing lockscreen arrow or that you have to swipe
emails right to left to delete, for example. But the homescreen icons – the imagery that everyone can
relate to, designer or not – should have been given
more attention before being trotted out on stage as
the next big thing.


Remember this ad? The ad where Microsoft
attempted to position the iPad as a chopstick-playing
toy and the Surface as a PowerPoint-editing
machine? Yeah, that’s why we can’t have nice things. Microsoft just released Office for the iPhone. It lets
users edit any Word, Excel or PowerPoint document.
As the oh-so-catchy name states, Office Mobile for
Office 365 subscribers is Office Mobile for Office 365
subscribers only, meaning the app is essentially $100
a year. It’s not “Office for iOS.” It’s just a way to open and partially edit Office files for those saps paying for
Microsoft’s pricey cloud platform. Judging from the screenshots, it looks like a quality
application. It supports rich-media content like charts,
animations, SmartArt graphics and shapes. And since
it works through Microsoft’s cloud service, all
changes saved on the phone are also made to the
original. But forget about a native iPad app. Microsoft can’t kill
the only legitimate selling point of its struggling
Surface tablet. Microsoft might have moved enough Surface tablets
to avoid calling it a flop, but the tablet was far from a
blockbuster hit. Ever since it launched the Surface,
Microsoft has supported it with constant ad
campaigns touting the tablet’s productivity chops.
The latest TV spot pits the Surface RT against the iPad, deeming its offering as the superior choice for
those who need to get work done. However, in
Microsoft’s world, “work” equals editing a PowerPoint deck. This is something you can do quite handily on the iPad using Keynote and, in fact, I suspect
Keynote users are well aware of the benefits of their
superior platform. Middle-manager infighting must be rampant at
Microsoft. On one hand, the company has to properly
support its Windows 8 ecosystem, which means it
has to position its tablet offering as the only MS
Office solution. But then, likewise, a true mobile
version of MS Office would have a better shot at fighting Google Docs. In this case the Office team
lost, relegating Office to just the iPhone — and in a
truncated version at that. Windows 8 wins, the
Surface stays slightly more interesting, and
everybody in Redmond wins. Only the consumer loses.


Apple has now taken another step to push app publishers to use its preferred ad tracking option, the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), with the debut of the iOS 7 beta. Confirming what many have suspected, Apple is eliminating an alternative option involving tracking by MAC addresses. This method had sprung up following a change to Apple’s Developer Documentation in 2011, announcing its intention to end developers’ reliance on the unique identifier known as the UDID.

It’s been a long time since Apple announced it would begin phasing out developer access to the UDID on iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad – something which at first led to some confusion in the industry. Over the years, developers had learned to use the identifier for advertising purposes, and as a way to store data about their users. But the method raised privacy concerns, since the number is tied to each individual device and cannot be removed, cleared, or controlled by end users.

Several alternatives soon appeared in the UDID’s place, each hoping to become the new default method. Many developers still use some these – or just as likely, a combination of some these – today.

Earlier this year, Apple began signaling again that the alternative it had in mind for the post-UDID world was its own when it began rejecting apps using cookie-tracking methods. Then in March, the company announced that it would no longer accept new applications or app updates that access UDIDs as of May 1, 2013.


With that deadline now behind us, Apple is again pushing its community to the UDID’s more privacy conscious replacement, the IDFA. This Apple-approved method provides the attribution advertisers need, along with the privacy and security controls Apple wants to provide for its users.

According to data collected by mobile app marketing firm Fiksu, which helps app publishers with user acquisition efforts, iOS 7 devices – all beta testers, at this point – are always now returning a MAC address of 02:00:00:00:00:00. This “dummy” address is the equivalent of the phone number 555-1212, for example. It began showing up for the tens of thousands of unique iOS 7 devices in Fiksu’s logs earlier this week, says Craig Palli, Fiksu’s mobile app marketing technology platform head.

There is also a mention in the pre-release notes for iOS 7 distributed to developers which states that this single, meaningless MAC address is now the new expected behavior.

“The MAC address, a hardware based identifier, has long been a way for advertisers to have a permanent, unique identifier for each device, providing a stable tracking option as an alternative to the controversy-plagued UDID,” Palli explains. “However, the same privacy concerns raised about the UDID apply equally to the MAC address – it just received less publicity,” he adds. Now, for those who haven’t yet made the switch to IDFA, the window to migrate is closing.

That being said, Palli says that most publishers and ad networks generally knew that the MAC method would not be supported, and the amount of traffic addressed by MAC addresses had “rapidly diminished” in recent months. Today, it exists as a very small, single-digit percentage, he tells us. Other methods, including digital fingerprinting and to a lesser extent, HTML5 cookies, are also still in use today, both with their own strengths and weaknesses.

At this time, there have not yet been any reports of app rejections because of the MAC address method being used, though, as noted above, the cookie-tracking method had seen some rejections earlier this year.

The app publisher and advertiser communities have had a long time to prepare for UDID’s demise and the shift to the IDFA. And while that hasn’t been an entirely error-free process, the time has now come to finalize the move.

“Fortunately, as an ecosystem, we’ve transitioned to the IDFA,” says Palli, “so by the time iOS 7 rolls out it should make little to no difference from an app developer or marketer’s point of view.”


ios7iOS 7 hits iPhones this fall, but only the iPhone 5 and iPod touch will get all the features announced at WWDC. The iPhone 4 and 4S will only get the new iOS 7 look and a splattering of features. And forget about the iPhone 3GS and older iPhones. They will be stuck in the skeuomorphic world of iOS 6 forever.

As shown in our chart below, AirDrop is limited to just the latest devices, including the iPad 4 and iPad mini. The iPhone 4S is missing out on the filters in Camera but it, along with the iPhone 4, does support filters in Photos.

iTunes Radio, the only feature announced today that makes Apple money, will be available on all iOS 7-compatible devices.

Some of these features are also coming to the iPad – except for the original iPad. It too will be stuck with iOS 6. The iPad 2 will only receive the Siri updates and iTunes Radio. Filters in Photos and new capture mode are coming to the iPad 3 and new devices. But even the iPad 4 and iPad mini will not get the panorama or filters in the Camera update.

This is of course an unfortunate side effect of progress: some devices naturally get left behind.

Apple and Google have done a commendable job supporting older hardware with their latest operating systems. Most of the time, including with iOS 7, the limitations are tied to hardware. Either the hardware flat-out doesn’t support the function or only in a fashion that wouldn’t provide a quality user experience.

Apple more so than most companies will only implement features if the user experience does not diminish. When Siri debuted alongside the iPhone 4, Apple didn’t roll the voice command function onto the one-year-old device, which happened to run a slower SoC than the iPhone 4S.

Microsoft took a big hit when it announced that Windows Phone 8 wouldn’t support then-current generation devices. Instead, those users would get some of Windows Phone 8′s user elements, but not its new underpinnings that powered the improved performance. But the new operating system required hardware not found in the devices of the time. Progress hurts sometimes.

When iOS 7 rolls out later this year, hackers and coders will no doubt do their best porting the missing features to older phones. Besides, even if that doesn’t happen, there’s more than likely an app for whatever feature is missing from your phone… because Apple stole most of them anyway.



blue apps

Why are so many app icons blue? The obvious answer is that so many tech brands contain blue in their logo or elsewhere in their tradedress. But why? What’s with the love of the blue tones people? I ask because the number of blue icons on my phone has reached a kind of tipping point where I’m often firing up the wrong app because I reach for the (wrong) blue one. And then I’m heading to Glide rather than Rdio, or the App Store not Dropbox, or Skype not Shazam.

I don’t normally arrange this blue collection on a single page but curious about how much of the stuff is hanging around on my homescreen I created a colour-co-ordinated arrangement (left) which serves to emphasise that it’s both big name apps, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and newer-comers like Glide and Rdio going for blue. Many of Apple’s native apps (in iOS 6) also rock similar blues, be it Safari, the weather app, stocks, the mail app and so on.

Initially this ‘blue period’ homescreen made finding apps even more confusing but I found that amalgamating all the blue tones actually tends to normalise them, making it easier for their distinct symbols and signs to stand out. So I’m tempted to stick with it. In the mean time, I’m still intrigued as to why tech companies are so hot on blue?

It’s possible there’s some deliberate mimicry going on, on the part of some startups. In seeking to establish their services, they want the user to think about other established tech services they know and love so they feel more confident about using a (similarly blue-coloured) alternative. Thinking of the likes of Skype for messaging and Facebook for social, say. In other words startups are hoping a resonating shade of blue will help them build a strong brand too.

Or they might be hoping to accidentally pass their app off as another the user is used to using; a sort of social engineering of where the user sticks their fingertip to steal taps meant for other apps. That’s risky, since the user didn’t meant to click on your app so may just get annoyed and delete it. Still, a swathe of startups clearly think it can’t harm if they project a similar visual aura to other established apps and services. It’s like the old adage ‘no one ever got fired for buying Microsoft’. Apparently no app icons ever offended by being painted blue.

facebook iconThere are other colour factors to consider too. Various colour preference surveys put blue on top, as the most popular shade for men and women globally. It’s certainly not a Marmite shade that polarises opinion — with so many natural instances of blue (sky, sea, flora) keeping things tranquil. Blue also apparently travels well, being more culturally neutral than certain other colours. Or so the theory goes. Colour theory also says that dark blue shades generate a feeling of reliability and stability (Facebook does have trust issues, after all), while lighter blues are apparently relaxing and calming (Apple’s native iOS 6 apps seem to fall into this category), or uplifting and energising depending on how bright the shade is (the bright blues of Skype and Shazam, say, or Twitter’s bird logo).Glide icon

It’s notable that even when some tech brands’ logos don’t actually have that much blue in them, their app icon can often make blue tones far more prominent (like Glide’s icon for instance, right). Meanwhile Twitter, which has its trademark bright blue bird online, switches to a white bird silhouette on a more muted and steady looking blue background for its current iOS app icon. Perhaps the relationship between a mobile device and its user necessitates an extra injection of trust, being as these gadgets are so personal. Therefore developers reach for more muted blue tones when designing their app’s phone icon.


Apple’s iOS 7 redesign ushers in a new, more neon-colour palette which deliberately ramps up the energy level of the native apps’ colour tones. (You could say they’ve been turned up to Ive.) Apps that were a relatively relaxing shade of blue before now positively pop out — with undertones of teal green/turquoise creeping in. The result is definitely uplifting in the sense that the apps appear to float against the background (a parallax effect Apple is encouraging via other features in its redesign, such as translucent layers and subtle shading effects as you move the phone).

ios 7 icons

The new look iOS also replaces the blue undercoat on toggle switches with green, and paints some native apps a new shade (like the stocks app now a fittingly bleak shade of black rather than a calming mid-blue), to further highlight how Apple is creeping away from its old mid-blue comfort zone. At a glance, there’s definitely a greater colour range to how Apple is painting the iOS 7 icons, and a lot less blue jackets than there are in iOS 6.

Cupertino has been under pressure to refresh the iOS interface, thanks in part to the accelerated speed with which Google has been driving Android’s look and feel forward. iOS is also now a six-year+ old OS, with more new-look competition crowding in than ever before, whether it’s Windows Phone or BlackBerry 10. One way for Apple to create an impression of change — without having to do radical restructuring which might upset its existing user-base  – is a new lick of paint. The iOS 7 palette, including its blues, is certainly far more energetic than the old one — and that’s likely aimed at generating a feeling of renewal, without having to shift too much core furniture and functionality.

The other issue is that perhaps Apple has realised its old favourite blues are becoming a bit stale/invisible because they’ve been so widely adopted. The new iOS 7 palette repaints the goal-posts in more rainbow tones in the short term but, ultimately, app makers will likely fall in step by tweaking their own app shades to harmonise with Apple’s neon brights. So their mid-blues will probably also get dialled up and/or tinged turquoise and green. And before you know it the colour spectrum of apps on the  homescreen could be falling in step again.

Whether Apple stepping away from blue will help other developers to kick the coat off their own apps remains to be seen. Apple’s influence will count for something but there’s no reason to think the human eye’s long-term love affair with blue tones is about to be overthrown, no matter how idealistically psychedelic Jony Ive’s redesign.