With just over two weeks until Apple's annual developer's convention, WWDC 2013 begins, Apple fanboys are scouring the web for any new tidbits of information they can find concerning the next iOS -- iOS 7 -- features and design.
While each year anticipation runs high concerning the next best iOS, this year's reveal will be especially full of anticipation as we know a new face in now at the Apple development helm. Recently appointed senior vice president of industrial design, Jony Ive, is on board and in charge of redesigning Apple's iOS 7. Saturday, however, some of the angst over what to expect in the next iOS was relieved as 9to5 Mac revealed new details via an unnamed source that give insight into what is ahead for iOS 7.
As a member of the Apple jailbreak community, I couldn't help smile a little as I read through the details leaked to 9to5 Mac concerning iOS 7 features as it didn't take a minute to recognize ways in which it seems iOS 7 may be taking a page out of the jailbreak developers' playbook.
Curious what I mean by this? Take a look at three ways Apple could/should borrow from the jailbreak community.
iOS 7 Redesign Element 1: Say Hello to A Whole New Lockscreen
Jony Ive has made it clear that the world will know iOS 7 is his based off of a drastic redesign of the system. In order to do this he's revamping everything we've grown accustomed to identifying as classic iOS features, beginning with the lockscreen. According to 9to5 Mac's source:
"With iOS 7, Apple will drop the shiny, transparent time bar on the top of the Lock screen in exchange for a shine-free, black interface. Additionally, the square-grid for entering a pin code has been replaced with round, black buttons with white text and white borders. Additionally, sources say that notifications on the Lock screen may see improved manipulability with gestures."
Though no details were divulged concerning how the notification manipulation feature will be improved, I'm curious if Jony Ive might not be taking a page out of a jailbreak playbook, looking for ways to improve handling of notifications. For example, a recent very popular jailbreak tweak called "Abstergo" by Joshua Tucker, features notification-handling gestures, such as a downward swipe to dismiss all or adding reminders to a particular notification with a gesture. I could see a feature like this being something users would be pleased to see incorporated into the native iOS 7.
I asked Joshua what his thoughts would be if something like this tweak were implemented in iOS 7 and seen running on the iPhone 6. Here is what he said:
"If anything I had worked was integrated natively, I'd be excited no matter what for a few reasons. One would be that it's cool to see that we were on the same page. Second, I design / build things for the sake of improving people's lives. If more people have an opportunity to use features like what I've done, that's awesome! The more people have the opportunity to use great features the better!"
We don't really know what is meant at this point by "improved manipulability", but hopefully it would be improvements such as those brought by Abstergo.
iOS 7 Redesign Element 2: Notification Centers Gets New Widgets
In addition to a redesigned lockscreen, 9to5 Mac also notes that the latest iOS 7 is testing new features such as quick-access information panels. This would could add features like new widgets for the Notification Center. According to 9to5 Mac sources, "Apple is testing a dedicated, easily-accessible panel for WiFi, Airplane Mode, and Bluetooth toggles."
Any jailbreaker who hears this, of course, will immediately be put in mind of a very popular jailbreak tweak known as NC Settings which has been around for well over a year now, dating back to the iOS 5.0.1 jailbreak.
iOS 7 Redesign Element 3: Heavy Textures Out, Flat Design In But We'd Just Love a Customizable UI
Finally, as Jony Ive is working to completely turn the iOS system upside down, doing away with the heavy textures that have become a staple of previous iOS will be a part of that. 9to5 Mac's source described the new look of the redesigned user interface (UI) as "black, white, and flat all over."
It seems, Jony Ive feels iOS has had a bit of an identity crisis over the years, with clashing design elements that "don't stand the test of time", which may do poorly for long -erm branding. Here are a few examples cited:
"The current yellow notepad-inspired Notes app contrasts significantly from the silver-textured Maps, blue and white Mail, and casino-inspired Game Center apps."
Indeed, I can see where the new head of industrial design is coming from, and why he would want to see a complete overhaul of the user interface. Still, despite the possible changes such as flatter design and more uniform color schemes, I can't help thinking most potential iPhone 6 customers would be far more pleased to discover not merely a redesigned iOS 7, but a customizable UI. Within the iOS jailbreak community there are any number of brilliant theme and tweak designers who bring customizations to those who jailbreak their devices, allowing individuals a lot of choice.
Though I agree a more unified design might bode better for iOS 7, still nothing beats having choices in making a device uniquely your own. With hefty competitors like Android with its unlocked bootloader and ease in customization, many feel finding some compromise by which users can have freedom to customize the Apple devices they have purchased should be a priority of Apple.
Security researcher and jailbreak creator Cyril Cattiaux, aka @pod2g, noted as much last October soon after the release of iOS 6 in an iOS/OSX security panel discussion in Malaysia. Here is what the long-time jailbreak creator had to say.
"I don't see the point in fact of Apple trying to secure iOS in a way that we can't execute tweaks on the system...I'm sure they could find something that could serve to secure their business with the App Store, but letting people do tweaks on the operating system. I'm sure they can find something. And this is my message to Apple: Please open your system!"
In January we saw @pod2g revisit this sentiment as he launched a trending twitter hashtag #WeWantAnOpeniOS while making the following statements.
"I have already some geek friends of mine leaving iOS for Android. Reason: closeness of the system...Prediction: 2013 will be the year of the openness of iOS."
At the time, another prominent iOS security resercher, Stefan Esser, added his two cents:
"The amount of people that do Jailbreaks for Tweaks instead of Piracy is so small that Apple will not be hurt at all from them going away. When those that JB for piracy die out due to lack of JB it will result in a measurable (but still not alarming) impact on Apple sales. Also considering that those that want to pirate stuff will not buy iPhones anymore, the Apple platform gets even more attractive for Devs. There have been about HALF A BILLION iDevices sold. few millions of that that are actually jailbroken should be in the 1 digit percent area."
To which pod2g countered back,
"1% doesn't mean others don't want tweaks and customization. They just don't know how, or fear to jailbreak.'"
An indeed, one of the major reasons I myself have seen fans leaving their iPhones behind for competing devices like the Galaxy S4 is for the sake of freedom.
In the words of a long time iPhone user John Landis, who recently switched to Android,
"Oh how I wish we could have a more permanents JB!!! I like the openness of the Android but nearly the quality of tweaks and themes"
Soon after the launch of his #WeWantAnOpeniOS campaign, I chatted with Cyril (@pod2g) about his extended SDK idea and this is how he explained it to me.
"I just want Apple to change their direction a little. Let people theme and mod their device if they want...[Apple could] allow tweaks by extending the SDK.... [Apple] continues to lock down iOS more for security reasons. The flaws used by jailbreak have to be closed. They do it right. They also want to close piracy, and this is great for app developers. A lot of users jailbreak for tweaks and mods, by it opens the door to piracy at the same time. The only way to introduce safe tweaks and mods is to review them, and have a dedicated SDK...A switch to allow unsigned code would be great, but I doubt Apple will go this way."
Later this year, pod2g and I again discussed the future of iOS, about which he was very optimistic.
"Here is my current point of view ... we saw that the bar was raised in terms of difficulty between 5.0 and 6.1. But why? Because Apple focused more on security than in innovation. Really, what is new in 6.1 comparing to 5.0? Except the bad move they did with the Map app? But I can definitely say that they changed a lot of things in terms of security. Now, iOS 7 is coming, and if Apple don't innovate, it's the end. I have the feeling then that iOS 7 will drastically change the user experience..."
Both Cyril Cattiaux and Joshua Tucker, along with Nicholas Allegra aka @comex (creator of the jailbreakme jailbreaks) and a few other prominent members of the jailbreak community, have agreed to speak to me after the iOS 7 reveal at WWDC 2013 concerning their thoughts on Apple and its latest iOS. For those who are part of the jailbreak community, stay tuned for that as the information as it will likely interest you.
iOS 7 Additional Features
In addition to the changes above, some other murmurings on new iOS 7 features we could see coming would be the integration of Flickr and Vimeo. The new integration would allow iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad users to upload their iOS photos and videos directly to the social media sources via the share menu the same as users can currently share content to Twitter and Facebook.
Though at this point it's unclear if we are looking for iPhone 5S or iPhone 6, either way one thing is certain: With new software on the way, it's very likely we'll see a new hardware device emerge as well.
Last year's Apple developer's event saw iOS 6 revealed while also giving details for the latest OSX system, Mountain Lion. In terms of new hardware, we saw MacBook Pro with Retina Display introduced and received details about an updated MacBook Air line.
A few months later, in September, we saw the release of the Phone 5, which was the first iOS device to feature the latest Apple mobile operating system, iOS 6. Our hope is this Fall, iPhone 6 will showcase iOS 7. We know from recent hints via Tim Cook a new iPhone is not to be expected until the Fall, so it's likely we'll se a launch along the same timeframe as last year.
Until that time, though, check back in with us here at iDesignTimes as we will be offering updates and new information we find about iOS 7, the iPhone 6 and other Apple/Jailbreak related news as it comes.
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