Craig Federighi, Jony Ive Discuss the Birth of iOS 7 Flat Design and More



September was a very busy month for Apple: the introduction of the two new iPhone models, the 5s and 5c, iOS 7 and then the — for some analysts, worrisome — 9 million first weekend handset sales. Tim Cook already has shared his thoughts about iOS 7 and iPhones. Now it is the time for Apple SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi and SVP of Design Jonathan Ive to speak up, with the help of a BusinessWeek interview, about the creative process that resulted in such hot products that triggered long lines in front of the stores around the globe.

As Federighi points out, one of the key elements of the success was the close collaboration between ID (Industrial Design) and HI (Human Interface), along with Engineering. Their intense relationship helped the creation of iOS 7.

Turns out, iOS 7’s flat design and escape from skeuomorphism was a natural step forward as Apple has become aware where its users currently are.

Federighi: I think we understand where our users are in some sense. I think as we looked at iOS 7, we saw some of the physical analogies in the existing user interface that were part of getting people comfortable working on glass, and we understood that people had gotten through that. We didn’t need to use these very literal physical analogies for them to interact with their phones or to interact with the touch screen.

So in that sense, I think there probably was a change from when we first considered what an interface would be like for a touchscreen device to starting iOS 7 and realizing that the world had moved. But at another level, I think if you look at the success of iPhones and iPads, even with near infants—I mean, toddlers operate that product—it’s less a matter of us thinking how you teach someone to use those devices and as much making the animations, making all the affordances such that you don’t have to strictly teach them at all.

The whole interview can be found here, and it’s definitely a must-read.


  • ward09

    Blah, blah, blah. iOS kind of jumped the shark for me. The new look is okay – kinda colourful and fresh – but why remove basic functionality like slide-to-delete e-mail? Changing the look is one thing, but pointlessly removing feature we are used to is very Windows 8 of them.

  • Wilber Alexander Flores

    That’s still there. Just now you have to swipe right to left no long working from left to right like it use to but that’s fine.

  • ward09

    Thanks so much for the tip! I swear I read an article that said the feature was removed.

  • rob0302

    lol that’s funny.. when i first went into the iOS7 email i thought the same thing as Ward. I couldn’t understand why you now had to go into the email and click on the trash can icon to delete, when it was just a swipe away before.. I also went crazy at first with closing open apps from the list when you double click the home button.. Then by fluke i swiped up and they closed.. Guess we just have to get used to it.
    thanks for the tip..

  • LoWd0Wn

    I really like the new features. They are a huge improvement but what I don’t like is the look. Very cartoonish and very light in text. Like in the phone app for recent calls, they don’t distinguish well from each other -where in ios6 they did. It just looks like a long list of name with the separation so light and ithe icons so light they are hard to see – especially when you are outside.
    Apple always stood for great looks and design. I think they missed the mark on the look for sure for ios7

  • jabohn

    This was changed because slide to the right is a new system gesture to go back. You have to place your finger on the edge of the screen and swipe to the right, but it works in many Apple apps.

  • Wilber Alexander Flores

    anytime man

  • fred

    too much white it teases my eyes at night 🙁