iOS 7′s lack of shadows

Peter Alguacil:

One could argue that by making the user interface behave as if it is backlit, Apple is treating iOS 7 as a more integral part of the device itself. It’s not a mock front-lit interface with shadows and textures, it is a representation of the actual physical screen.

Some interesting thoughts in this article.



  • samdchuck

    The weird thing is that the icons on apple.com/ios/ios7/ don’t have shadows but the exact same ‘photo’ on apple.com does (dock excluded).

    Personally, the lack of shadow makes it look like it’s stuck to the background, wich is weird in combination with the constantly moving and thus detached nature of the background. It also looks weird when the icons bleed over the edge due to them having the same color as the background.

    • User

      Yes I noticed this too. Anyway I think they will end up adding shadows because the type on white background will not be clear and that’s not “cool” that’s simply wrong.

    • Herding_sheep

      I remember people having a similar to reaction to Aqua when it was first unveiled in 2001. There were designers having all kinds of debates and criticisms about how using the shadows was terrible, the icons were TOO detailed and the artwork resolution was too high, the glossiness was distracting….and yes, the colors were “over the top” and childish.

      Its almost like a carbon copy of today, except today the designers are arguing FOR the aqua elements that they were once condemning when it was first unveiled.

      Apple refined and toned down much of the Aqua elements after the initial OSX beta, and we have no reason to believe they wont again with iOS 7. Lets keep in mind, these guys did the unthinkable and completed a comprehensive system-wide UI and interaction redesign in 8 MONTHS. Of course there will be some flaws, and of course they are still working on it. I’m sure the final iOS 7 launch will look slightly different from beta 1.

    • http://www.thediceguys.com Dean Lewis

      There are no shadows because the parallax view means the icons “float” above the background. You can’t see it in the 2D screenshots, but it should be pretty clear when looking at the real thing. Here’s an article with a video of it, which probably still doesn’t do it justice: http://www.iphonehacks.com/2013/06/ios-7-3d-homescreen.html

      In fact, adding shadows to it would look strange since they’d either float above the background with the icon, or have to be rendered offset and move with the parallax action to seem realistic.

  • DanielSw

    All this yap yap over literally nothing. Shadows schmadows, flat schmat. Do you really need to sweat the small stuff? I don’t think so.

    We get sometimes dramatically different-looking cars every year. It’s left to the customer whether or not to buy. Somehow that stupid-looking boxy Scion and the Cube caught on to some degree and one saw those around. But then they started rounding off the corners. And now BMW is messing with the Mini, which itself was a mutation of the original British contraption. WTF?

    At the end of the day it’s just a silly look, where what matters far more is how the thing WORKS.

    I’m finding a lot to like with iOS 7.

    I happen to like the new spartan timer, for one. Just Helvetica Light black numbers on white. Nice and clean.

    Though it may seem sort of retro or too arbitrary, I at least like the fact that we have high quality displays which can reproduce those thin lines and curves without any apparent jaggies.

    I also like the fact that this new design is sort of “disappearing”, just like the general trend of electronics to get ever smaller.

    Case in point: the new Mac Pro. I LOVE its industrial design, but even more its apparent POWER. Can’t wait to see what they’re going to charge for it. I think they may “surprise and delight” us with a LOW entry price.

    • mdelvecchio

      the Scion xB is not “stupid-looking”. its the most practical vehicle ive ever owned. great milage, and excellent square feet of cargo space, which is exactly what i use it for during my deliveries.

      • DanielSw

        You make my point. Our opinions about how it looks don’t matter, as my opinion is just as valid as yours. What matters is how something works. iOS 7 has a lot of nice new functionality.

  • dr.no

    macrumors reported that icons were designed by Marketing.

    Does Jim dare to confirm this information.

    If it is true then it is gravest sin Apple can commit. even graver than giving non-citizen information to the Government which Steve Jobs would have never done.

    Icons are amateurish at best even if Apple did it to make a change so competitors don’t have the same looking icons.

    • Herding_sheep

      I think MOST of the icons looks gorgeous. It’s a matter of opinion. The only icon I truly dislike is the Game Center icon (as well as the app), but even that’s not really enough for me to complain about. The only other thing I think they need to fix with the icons is to make the gradients consistent. Some have (from top to bottom) light to dark gradient, while others like Mail for some reason go from dark to light. Doesn’t make sense and they really should just make all gradients go from light to dark.

      I’d bet a lot of money that these things (and many other touches) will be refined and refined from now until the launch. It’s a beta 1, for a total redesign done in 8 months. Of course many elements won’t be finished and polished yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if they completely change several of the icons. If the story about marketing doing the icons is true, then they probably did it to have something there are placeholders or guidelines just to announce at WWDC, while the graphic design team finishes up their own icons based on those guidelines. They clearly put a lot of thought into the icons, with the grid system and even slightly altering the shape of the icons (corners are more rounded)

      • sgns

        Indeed, what’s funny is that for the “design is superficial decoration” crowd the icons are a big deal, whereas here they were probably the last thing on the list – not unimportant, but last – and time ran out.

    • mdelvecchio

      you have no idea if apple gave data to the government, and you have no idea what would have happened if a deceased person were ceo. to believe otherwise is to indulge in fantasy.

  • justa guy

    When you are doing faux-3D parallax, having fixed shadows makes it look wrong.