KEY POINTS

  • Pre-iOS 7 iPhones featured a hideous, yet functional design
  • iOS 7 featured simpler designs that were harder to use compared to iOS 6
  • Apple's next major iOS version might feature a new design called “neumorphism”

Touchscreen phones have very distinct user interface as compared to old phones with buttons and keypads. The UI is designed to look good and very interactive while still being functional. Various smartphone companies tried their hand at making their own mobile operating systems, each offering unique designs.

Apple's iPhones have a distinct user interface as compared to devices running on other mobile operating systems. Some iOS versions even look different compared to other iOS versions. Older versions looked very different from the newer ones, sometimes at the cost of clarity and usefulness. 

Cult of Mac, for one, noted that pre-iOS 7 iPhones featured a skeuomorphic design that featured touches of gray gradients, fake wood and glossy plastic. This resulted to a very obvious and functional, but “hideous” look.

iPhones running on iOS 7 and newer, on the other hand, offered a clean look as compared to iPhones running on iOS 6 and older. The level of cleanliness and simplicity, however, was too much: buttons and labels were harder to distinguish compared to iOS 6, making it hard for some to use.

Pre-iOS 7 devices took advantage of a design trend called skeuomorphism, wherein items are made to represent their real-world counterparts, according to the Interaction Design Foundation. Skeuomorphic designs closely resemble real-world items, but in a digital format.

Apple, however, started to show signs of shifting from skeuomorphic designs to what is called “neumorphic” designs. What is this?

Neumorphism

“Neumorphism” is a play on the words “new” and “skeuomorphism.” It's a new design trend that adds a physical element to the flat UI design commonly used in many applications today. It uses subtle cues such as a bit of shading and color. It's not as realistic as compared to skeuomorphic design, but it also does the trick beautifully.

Apple first introduced neumorphic designs in iOS 13 via screenshot markup tools. Those who use the iOS screenshot tool will easily notice that the Instant Markup panel looks different. It uses color and shadows to indicate the tools that are currently in use.

The inclusion of neumorphic designs in iOS 13 could very well signal the possibility that Apple might soon introduce a new interface design. 

The US attorney general claimed Apple has failed to provide enough help to unlock iPhones used in a deadly December shooting spree, reviving a debate on law enforcement access to encrypted devices The US attorney general claimed Apple has failed to provide enough help to unlock iPhones used in a deadly December shooting spree, reviving a debate on law enforcement access to encrypted devices Photo: GETTY IMAGES / JUSTIN SULLIVAN