iOS7 to adopt flat design

The last great bastion of skeuomorphic design, Apple Inc., is rumored to be completely revamping its mobile OS, ahead of a relaunch at the Apple WDDC on June 10th. Speculation is that the next version of iOS, which powers Apple’s mobile devices, will both adopt a predominantly monotone look and abandon the textures associated with it for the last six years.

Whilst there are plenty of designers who still advocate skeuomorphic design, many more are embracing flat design. Flat design proposes that faux-3D effects, drop shadows, and anything else that imitates real-world objects in a screen-based environment is essentially deceitful. Proponents of flat design believe that simplifying, minifying and ‘flattening’ designs produces user interfaces that are easier to understand, easier to use and more suitable for the contemporary landscape.

The legions of web designers adopting flat design increased ten-fold when it was realised how simple flat design makes responsive design; a flat responsive design can produced in a fraction of the time of a skeuomorphic version. Increasingly it seems that the era of the mobile web is becoming synonymous with flat design.

Apple have a reputation for innovation: the mouse is one of theirs, as is the folder > file graphic interface. However, in recent years Apple have taken a back seat in innovative areas, preferring to adopt technology once it had proven valuable. In fact, you could argue that the most innovative thing Apple have produced since the first iMac has been their corporate branding: iPods were not the first MP3 players, the iPhone was not the first smart phone; they were simply the most well rounded, well branded and commercially appealing versions.

It would be a huge coup for flat design advocates therefore, if this barometer of commercial design abandoned its flagship look in favor of flat design.

Following a larger trend for reducing the number of executives and expanding the remit of those at the top, iOS7 is receiving its overhaul curtesy of Jonathan Ive — Apple’s Vice President of Industrial Design, who is responsible for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch hardware. Ive is reported to hold a certain distain for skeomorphism — preferred by both Steve Jobs and former iOS chief Scott Forstall — stating that software design based on physical metaphors does not stand the test of time.

Oft-repeated rumors currently circulating include a change to the current glossy lock screen, making it flat and black; a change to the pin-code entry, with the addition of round buttons; app icons losing their gloss; and alerts losing their texture to become white on black.

Counter rumors suggest that this is simply a clever marketing exercise by Apple to raise interest in iOS7, and like the hardware designed by Ive, any actual changes will be slow and incremental.

Will Apple switch to flat design for iOS7? Will a similar change to MacOS follow soon after? How will a non-skeuomorphic approach maintain a consistent iOS feel? As you might expect, designers have been publishing their ideas for some time, and we’ve included our favourites below.


iOS7 concept by Andre Almeida


iOS7 concept by Zikkzak


iOS7 concept by Nandor Tomas


iOS7 concept by AlHasan AlDasooqi

iOS7 concept by SimplyZesty


iOS7 concept by Peyman Eskandari


iOS7 concept by Dámaso Benítez


iOS7 concept by Alex Iv


iOS7 concept by Apfelpage


iOS7 concept by Oleg Turbaba

iOS7 concept by Agente Apple


iOS7 concept by Manu Gamero


iOS7 concept by Pieter Goris


iOS7 concept by Jesse Head

Which of these designs is your favorite? Should Apple adopt flat design? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

  • Stelian Andrei

    Is that “Slice to unlock” in the first image (concept by Andre Almeida) ?

  • Andrew Hersh

    This is what happens when you let a hardware designer design software.

    It will be the ugliest thing Apple has produced since 9.2.2.

    • Peter Mutiso

      You read my mind

  • sarah3585

    Some really nice concepts. I don’t think Apple will fully adapt flat design, I think there will be a transition over the next few versions of iOS, they will want to do it there own way. Not just come off as coping Windows.

    • Twoopl

      i hope will be fully flat :) flat is not windows…

  • Jasper iceCubo

    like said in the text, i think it’s most likely a marketing thing.

  • Fotis Adamakis

    I believe that flat design trend origin comes from Windows metro ui and thats why Apple will not follow this and will try to innovate with something new.

  • Alen Kapetanović

    It’s a bit funny how most of the lock screens look very similar to Android lock screens :)

    • Marsg

      actually those weather widgets are directly from android (1weather) and so is that clock, and im sure most of the other stuff. With all that said when Android does it, iOS users are like “we dont need that”, “that looks fugly”, but when they get it its the greatest thing since sliced bread.

  • Vitor Hugo Silva

    I really hope Apple doesn’t follow these concepts… most of them look like bad Android UI rip-off’s…

  • max

    Nice mixture between Android and WP8

  • kylemac6

    I certainly think some of Apple’s designs could use updating/revamping and not imitate real-world objects quite so much, but most of these concepts don’t look great to me. In the eye of the beholder and all that and less is more, but I hope they don’t take flat to extremes, either, as I find very flat designs to be rather bland and unappealing. As with all things, a balance must be found. I guess we’ll see what they come up with.

    • Matt Drake

      I completely agree. I am not a fan of flat design at all, and I grow weary of the number of Internet experts who are touting flat design as the second coming of Web Design Jesus.

  • Robert Friskney

    A nice & a simple look, its view is just like windows 8 display.. Ben i really like your Idea and design..:)

    • Benjie

      Just to be clear: none of these designs are mine, the designers are all named underneath each image :)

      • Robert Friskney

        As you have presented this to me so i thank you for all this , thanks Ben once again


  • sourav

    just WOW….. hats off to your creativity….

  • mechrisreed

    I think the vernacular should be changed to minimal. The best minimal designs, like most great designs, have a sensation of depth (unlike windows metro / modern). That being said, I wold love to see the disappearance of skeupmorphic design.

  • 1990banks

    I approve this new design direction. <3 Flat UI design.

  • Ren Ventura

    I personally hope Apple doesn’t adopt flat design. It looks too Windows-like and is far from what Apple has become known for.

  • ww

    i think the one by Andre Almeida