SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — Apple is throwing out most of the real-world graphical cues from its iPhone and iPad software, like the casino-green “felt” of its Game Center app, in what it calls the biggest update since the iPhone’s launch in 2007.
The new operating system, called iOS 7, strives for a clean, simple, translucent impression. Apple is redesigning all its applications and icons to conform to the new look, driven by long-time hardware design guru Jony Ive.
The operating system will show up on most iPhones, iPad and iPod Touches this fall, the company said.
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The overhaul represents Ive’s attempt to freshen the look of both the iPhone and iPad in hopes of deepening users’ attachment to the trend-setting devices. It comes at a time when rivals such as Samsung Electronics and Google are trying to get people to defect by developing their own lines of elegant and often less expensive products.
The stiffer competition has slowed Apple’s growth in the increasingly important mobile device market, contributing to a 38 percent decline in the company’s stock price since the shares peaked at $705.07 in September.
Wall Street didn’t seem nearly as impressed with Apple’s new software approach as the sold-out audience of enthusiastic application developers who flocked to San Francisco Monday. Apple’s stock dipped $2.92 to close Monday at $438.89.
The redesigned software uses simple graphical elements in neon and pastel colors. Gone is the effort to make the icons look like three-dimensional, embossed objects – a tactic known as “`skeuomorphism,” that was favored by Apple’s late CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs.
Interface designers call the new guiding principle “flat,” but on the iPhone’s main screen, the background image will move subtly with the movement of the device, creating an illusion of depth. Other screens include plenty of white space.
The software has “a whole new structure that is coherent and is applied across the entire system,” Ive said in a recorded presentation. “The design recedes, and in doing so, elevates your content.”
While the design modifications could help Apple distinguish its devices from rival phones and tablets, the company risks alienating longtime users.
“The new version is almost unrecognizable, which will make it polarizing,” predicted Ovum analyst Jan Dawson. “Some people will love that their phone feels new and different, while others will be disoriented by the newness.”