In an iOS 7 world, here’s how Apple’s iLife, iWork, iBooks and other apps could look

Apps

The introduction of iOS 7 brought forth a new era of iOS design: one that discards old thinking and draws little inspiration from past designs. While Apple’s included applications in iOS 7 have all been updated for the new design aesthetic, their App Store apps haven’t. Installing any of Apple’s other applications alongside iOS 7 reveals a huge discrepancy between the old, skeuomorphic design, and the new, flatter look. Obviously, Apple will have to redesign all of their App Store applications. So, what will they look like?

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From beta 1 to release: how each major iOS version has transformed

Beta

Following its introduction earlier this month, Apple’s newest operating system has fallen under criticism and scrutiny from both designers and casual users alike. Due to both the tight development timetable and the new design direction under Jony Ive, following the removal of former iOS SVP Scott Forstall last fall, iOS 7 is, understandably, the most controversial and intriguing iOS version yet.

In response to much of the negative criticism directed towards iOS 7, some have suggested that iOS 7 will change substantially before it is released to the general public. Looking back at previous versions of iOS reveals a long trend of subtle refinements to the operating system during beta periods, not dramatic changes. Let’s take a look at how each version of iOS has transformed:

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iOS 7’s new Inter-App Audio introduces universal audio routing between apps

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 11.15.05 AM

Following WWDC this week Apple’s redesign of iOS 7 and Mavericks have been getting the majority of attention, and rightfully so, but there are a few new big features coming in iOS 7 that haven’t been discussed. This morning we told you about the new MFi Game Controller framework that will make using hardware game controllers a lot smoother in iOS 7, but another important new feature in the update is inter-app audio.

The basic idea is simple: Inter-app audio will allow developers to make their app act as an output and or input for sending and receiving audio to and from other apps. In fact, we already somewhat have that functionality through third-party iOS app Audiobus. However, with Apple’s new inter-app audio feature available to devs, apps will no longer have to use a third-party app like Audiobus to send audio to one another. At first glance it seems to make Audiobus obsolete, an interesting move after Apple just recently implemented support for the third-party service in its own GarageBand app. Either way, it means a ton of new possibilities for creating music and sharing audio on your iPhone and iPad are on the way with the update to iOS 7 this fall.

We dug into Apple’s documentation on Inter-App Audio to find out how it works and also spoke with Audiobus about what this means for them:

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Full walk-through of Apple’s UI changes in iOS 7 [Video]

Aside from the short demos that were given on stage yesterday at WWDC, and the few screenshots on Apple’s website, Apple hasn’t shown off iOS 7 in much detail. Although developers now have access to an early beta version of the software, iOS 7 won’t be released to the general public until later this year, and an iPad version of iOS 7 hasn’t been shown off at all.

In order to give you a better idea of exactly what Apple is cooking up down in Cupertino, we’ve put together this walk-through of every redesigned application in iOS 7, showing off how they look and function.

For all of our other iOS 7 hands-on coverage, check out the links below:

-iOS 7 first Hands-On

-Changes to the camera app in iOS 7

-A look at iTunes Radio in iOS 7 

-iOS 7 first install gallery

-Subtle features and details in iOS 7 and Mavericks

Google rolls out brand new Gmail inbox on desktop and mobile with Categories for easier organization

As expected from a previous leak earlier this month, Google just announced on its official Gmail blog that it’s rolling out a brand new UI for Gmail on both the web and mobile that brings a new Categories based UI for easier organization of emails. The Gmail-App-Categories-01screenshots below line up with the images that we posted last week showing new customizable Categories that users can assign to manage emails according to content. For example: ‘Social’ for emails related to social networks, ‘Promotions’ for promotional material, ‘Notifications’ for reservations, bills, etc, and ‘Forums’ for mailing lists and forums.

On the desktop, the new inbox groups your mail into categories which appear as different tabs. You simply choose which categories you want and voilà! Your inbox is organized in a way that lets you see what’s new at a glance and decide which emails you want to read when.. You can easily customize the new inbox – select the tabs you want from all five to none, drag-and-drop to move messages between tabs, set certain senders to always appear in a particular tab and star messages so that they also appear in the Primary tab.

The update is not only rolling out to desktop users, but also to iPhone and iPad and mobile devices running Android 4.0 and up. On the mobile apps, users will first see their “Primary” inbox and can switch to other categories using the side navigation bar. Google says the new inbox is rolling out in the next few weeks but users will be able to try it sooner with a new “Configure inbox” option in Settings. Read more

Apple’s recent design changes betray a big design shift in the works

Jony Ive

When Jony Ive took over the role of leadership for Apple’s Human Interface in October of last year, many speculated that the style of Apple’s design language across iOS and Mac OS X would also shift towards a flatter, more clean style. This speculation was fueled mainly by Ive’s feelings towards skeuomorphism and his minimalist design aesthetic.

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WSJ profiles app developer responsible for inventing/popularizing pull-to-refresh and other GUI innovations

Loren-Brichter
pull-to-refreshThe Wall Street Journal published a piece last night that profiled influential app developer Loren Brichter of Atebits and Tweetie fame. The 28-year-old developer is the man behind several apps that were first to implement or help popularize well-known gestures and UI features that have since become design standards for many popular apps and developers. Perhaps the best example is “pull-to-refresh”—a feature that Brichter built into his Tweetie app before selling to Twitter:

Mr. Brichter got his start in the mobile industry while at Apple from 2006 to 2007 as part of a five-person group working out early kinks in technology that made the iPhone’s graphics hardware and software communicate… In 2008, Mr. Brichter built Tweetie to have a better way to use Twitter and eventually included the “pull-to-refresh” feature. After selling the app to Twitter for what he says was “single digit millions” in 2010, he stayed on at Twitter working remotely on the company’s apps for about a year and a half. He left to keep experimenting.

Other features Brichter helped to popularize include the slide-out panels that we see in apps such as Facebook and a feature described as “cell swipe” that’s popular in Twitter apps for revealing lists of hidden functions by swiping. WSJ was quick to point out that Brichter has filed for a patent on at least the “pull-to-refresh” gesture (now owned by Twitter), but Brichter explained that he allows most developers to implement the features freely: Read more

Apple researching universal remote that customizes UIs intelligently

This is not the first time we have received hints that Apple is working on an innovative universal remote control for controlling TV and video content. In January, we told you that Apple was researching a touchscreen remote with adaptable user interfaces. The invention would essentially allow button layouts stored in the cloud or in a device (such as a TV) to be wirelessly and seamlessly beamed to the controller’s UI. The concept would alleviate the “table full of remotes” scenario Steve Jobs described at D8.

Today, a new patent application published by the United States Patent & Trademark Office and detailed by PatentlyApple gives us even more insight into what Apple’s universal remote concept could become. In the newly discovered patent application, Apple details a remote that is capable of displaying customized controls for various devices by simply taking a picture of the device. Apple would send the picture to iCloud, analyze it, and beam a UI or button layout to the remote that works for your TV. PatentlyApple explained:

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Fluent is a Sparrow-like UI for Gmail making the ‘future of email’

Fluent is a web-based workflow stream that works with existing Gmail accounts to bring a Sparrow-like user interface to email.

Users can stream email threads and replies, preview aggregated attachments in a tab, quickly reply or compose inline, archive messages, and even add a to-do list with the new design concept that claims to run on any web browser.

Sparrow is a great success as a Mac-only application, and now Fluent hopes to balance the playing field and snag users whom are in dire need of a new Gmail look and functionality. Fluent’s website specifically praises its workflow ability, multiple accounts options, and “blazing” fast search-as-you-type filter.

The streaming email UI is the work of three former Googlers who quit the Mountain View, Calif.-based Company. BusinessInsider said Cameron Adams, Dhanji Prasanna, and Jochen Bekmann left because designers were “less valuable” than engineers at Google, and they felt disconnected from Google’s culture while operating from across the world in Sydney, Australia…

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Apple researching universal touchscreen remote with adaptable user interface for future TVs

A patent application published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office earlier today reveals Apple is flirting with the idea of a universal touchscreen controller capable of controlling multiple devices including a “television, a video tape player, a video disk player, a stereo, a home control system, or a computer system.” The patent application is titled “Apparatus and Method to Facilitate Universal Remote Control” and was filed Sept. 30, 2011.

The patent application’s background covers many of the issues with current controllers for televisions and the devices mentioned above. It noted current universal remotes are “complex to operate” and unable to adapt to incorporate every command or control functionality supported by a device or future device. It also mentions the fact that users are often “confronted with multiple” remotes, which is the classic “table full of remotes” scenario described by Steve Jobs when talking about the Apple TV at D8. The patent application explained:

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Apple exploring 3D iOS interface with motion sensing gestures

The United States Patent & Trademark Office published an Apple patent application today (via PatentlyApple) detailing new 3D GUI concepts and touch-free, motion sensing gestures that would allow you to simply wave your hand over a device equipped with proximity sensors. This follows a patent application published in July that explores similar 3D gestures and user-interfaces, and another in September detailing 3D display and imaging technology that could lead to Kinect-like gestures on future Apple products.

The image to the right (larger version is below) shows a 3D UI environment consisting of two sidewalls, a back wall, a floor, and a ceiling. As you can see, 2D objects are posted to the back and sidewalls, while 3D objects rest on the floor of the environment. The patent mentions a “snap to” feature that appears to allow objects to move from one surface to another by changing the orientation of the 3D environment. In other words, the user’s perspective of the UI, which PatentlyApple said could be imagined as the “view from an imaginary camera viewfinder,” would change when rotation of the device is detected by its gyro sensor or accelerometer:

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