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Apple’s iOS 7 provides both challenge and opportunity for brands

Last night, Apple CEO Tim Cook addressed the gathered masses at the WWDC event where he announced the imminent release of iTunes Radio and the latest upgrade of its iOS system. Attending the conference was Nice Agency managing director Peter Dolukhanov, who offers his reaction to the event.

Apple are certainly not standing still, as could be felt by the buzz throughout the Moscone Centre for the annual WWDC keynote.

The morning started with CEO Tim Cook launching Mavericks, the tenth version of Mac OS X desktop operating system. Whilst there are over 200 new features, the highlights are those aimed at power users, especially the advanced support for multiple displays and performance enhancements. Certain features will have broader appeal including iCloud Keychain, which aims to solve the prevalent issue of having unique and secure passwords for websites. Apple Maps has also made it to the desktop, though it still remains unclear whether the quality of the maps has improved over the much-maligned version launched last year as part of iOS 6.

There were also hardware releases including the MacBook Air with extended battery life and the svelte Mac Pro, complete with Hollywood-style trailer. “Can’t innovate any more my ass!” said Apple’s Phil Schiller in response to recent media suggestions that without Steve Jobs, the company's ability to come up with exciting new products.

iTunes Radio was launched, but it was difficult to see what it offered above Spotify Radio or Rdio. This could well be another flop like the music social network, Ping.

Undoubtedly, the highlight of the morning which most were looking forward to seeing was the new version of the mobile operating system, iOS 7.

It’s certainly revolution over evolution for Apple - a truly radical departure from previous versions and will no doubt have lovers and haters. Jony Ive and his design team had a deep involvement with the release, collaborating with Apple's engineering team to revamp the entire user interface. Prior to revealing the new version, Jony explained how he strived to bring 'order to complexity' and how this was 'true simplicity' rather than 'the absence of clutter'.

The style changes brought with the new version are evident throughout the OS based the three new deign themes: deference, clarity and depth. Gone are the bevels, gradients and skeuomorphism from previous versions. It is replaced with a simplified flat, colourful and multi-layered design. The icons are based on a grid-system, harmonising with the UI tiles. This is combined with parallax effects on the home and lock screens that shift when the device is tilted, given a real sense of perspective. The colour palette has been expanded, allowing each application to have it's own 'personality' and the background image you choose will influence the colours throughout the rest of the interface. Apple then ate their own dog food and redesigned all of the stock applications to follow the new design paradigms. The weather application in particular, is beautiful and slick.

But what does it all mean? It's certainly a drastic shift from the previous design, which had started to date compared with other mobile platforms. That said, you can't help but see a semblance of Windows Phone 8 influence in the design, especially the typography. Regardless, it feels that Apple redefined their design language and has now brought their mobile interface to be modern, slick and unobtrusive.

The challenge for brands? Well, the majority of applications in the App Store will need to be updated to reflect the new design patterns. With 900,000 applications out there, this is no mean feat. There’s the other issue that the majority will need to have backwards compatibility for the previous versions of iOS to allow users to upgrade, rather than forcing users to upgrade and the potential to incorporate new features to drive deeper engagement with users. At Nice Agency, we’re rolling up our sleeves and welcoming the new opportunity that awaits!