Apple’s New iOS 7 Borrows Heavily from Other Systems and Apps
When it comes to software development, is imitation still the sincerest form of flattery?
If so, several mobile operating systems and third-party apps should’ve been feeling pretty flattered after Apple revealed the forthcoming iOS 7 at its WWDC keynote. As many people live streaming the conference were quick to point out on tech blogs and social media, much of iOS 7’s look, features, and user interface gave them déjà vu.
It was rumored that Apple would be ditching its played-out skeuomorphic look, so the flatter, simpler design wasn’t a surprise. But its buttons and lock screen invite comparisons to Microsoft’s Metro UI on the Windows Phone. The new method for iPhone multitasking, which lets you horizontally scroll through all open apps, is also reminiscent of the Windows Phone—and of Palm Pre’s now-defunct WebOS menu before that.
Apple’s touted Control Center, which gives you quick access to settings by swiping the screen, was immediately familiar to Android users as the function that has been on LG and Samsung phones for years. One of the biggest UI announcements—that iOS would be implementing a (heretofore conspicuously absent) back button—is also something Android users have had for a while, and its activation by swiping from the left edge of the screen is identical to the “back” feature for BlackBerry 10 and in Nokia’s Swipe UI before that.
Several of Apple’s “new” built-in apps also seemed familiar, though these similarities were to products from third-party creators. The Mail client looks and functions like Mailbox with its ability to categorize emails by swiping across the screen. The Calendar’s new scrollable month view is just like Sunrise’s, although iOS 7 does keep its week view, which Sunrise doesn’t have.
The lovely and interactive Weather app has the same loveliness and interaction as Yahoo Weather, which, perhaps coincidentally (or perhaps not), won an Apple Design Award yesterday. And then there are the obvious comparisons between the remade Camera app and a certain superpopular square-framed, filter-applying photos app, and between the new iTunes Radio and, well, all the other online streaming music services.
A famous Pablo Picasso quote—“Good artists copy; great artists steal.”—often gets trotted out in situations like this. Is Apple a great artist? Other operating systems that have done their own share of borrowing and copying would probably think so and can’t take umbrage at their ideas being recycled. Apple enthusiasts also probably think so, because now, instead of jailbreaking their iPhones or turning them into Frankenstein’s monsters of mix-and-match app replacements, iOS 7 will come standard with all the features they like.
The ones that might not be on board the “great artists” train are the third-party app creators. If users start defecting, we’ll see if the third-party app creators continue feeling flattered or if they’re simply flattened.