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iOS 7 user interface changes

January 2, 2014

Apple releases a new version of its mobile operating system (iOS) every year, around September/October. The latest version is iOS 7, and it brought a completely new look and feel, with flatter colours, thinner fonts(*) and a paler look to a lot of apps. The following Apple apps are good examples: App Store, Calendar, Clock, Mail, Messages, Photos and Settings.

Some of the iOS 7 UI changes apply immediately to all apps, e.g. the alert and action popups – these now have a white background. Other UI changes happen when a developer re-builds their app with the latest Software Developer Kit (SDK) from Apple. An app built for iOS 7 can still run on earlier iOS versions, and in fact the old user interface will still be used on iOS 5 or 6.

The UI displayed is therefore down to which version of iOS you are running, rather than the app itself.

Some people don’t like iOS 7. This is perfectly fine (of course), and as a consumer you can choose not to upgrade to Apple’s latest OS (or buy their latest gadgets). If you are running iOS 5 or 6, all your existing apps are likely to look the same, even if they are updated to support iOS 7. But if you have upgraded to iOS 7, an app designed and built for iOS 7 simply can’t support the old style interface. The only way a developer could do this would be to release two separate versions of each app.

I don’t want to do this, but I do want to move forwards. I am therefore about to release new versions of Hill Lists and Meter Readings, and I am rebuilding Account Tracker too. If you are running iOS 7 and really don’t like the iOS 7 interface, you have two simple choices: downgrade your operating system (very complex), or don’t install the app updates (very easy).

No-one is forcing you to update an app, just leave it on its current version and the UI won’t change!

I hope this explains the situation. No doubt I will get a few negative reviews complaining about the new interface. However this is not the fault of the apps, it is really the user’s choice of iOS that forces the UI change.

* in iOS 7 you can change the default fonts to be bold in the main settings app, under General then Accessibility.