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Looking Back at the iOS 6 Maps UI

almost 3 years ago from , UX Designer @ Google

I didn't realise how much I missed the iOS 6-esque design style until I saw the old maps UI again.

Sure, a lot of iOS 6 looked dated/heavy, but I think this screenshot is a great example of the attention to detail that is missing from iOS today - just look at the shading and texture in the 'turn event' banners.

I was hoping the flat look of iOS 7 would grow on me... and in some ways it has. However, there is still a long way to go before it feels as complete as iOS 6 did. For starters, something needs to be done about many of the home screen icons. Three years on and they're still awfully inconsistent. Surely there's a midpoint between these two icons.

Anyway, that's my two cents. Just felt like reminiscing.

Edit: To clarify, I'm in no way suggesting we return to iOS 6-esque design. I realise a change was necessary in order to scale apps across different screen sizes. I also prefer a flatter UI. I just think there's a middle ground Apple could have gone with.

For example, the new Apple TV UI is far better than iOS IMO - it adds subtle depth and is more consistent. Same with the OS X Yosemite redesign... they went 'flatter' without losing all personality. Compare the Yosemite 'Contacts' icon to it's iOS counterpart. It's night and day.

26 comments

  • Charlie SneathCharlie Sneath, almost 3 years ago

    I really like to think of the move to "flat design" as a reset; simplify the graphics to make way for new considerations; think animation, dynamic text, colors, layout, etc.

    Sure, we lose a lot of the character of the original visuals (it looks like Simcity!), but it might be making way for something super cool.

    7 points
    • Kyle DonmoyerKyle Donmoyer, almost 3 years ago

      I agree, taking away all the decorations and moving towards less "stylized" looks allows faster iterations cycles.

      1 point
  • Rasmus ErikssonRasmus Eriksson, almost 3 years ago (edited almost 3 years ago )

    I'm with you. The flat look has certainly grown on me, but not enough. 99% is against me on this one, but I think they could have refreshed iOS without dropping its entire aesthetic.

    Ease up the shading, gradients and shadows, reduce texture usage or make its use less intense, remove some minuscular details on icons… it could've looked great.

    Edit: the more I look at that screenshot… damn. It's gorgeous.

    5 points
  • Joe TurnerJoe Turner, almost 3 years ago (edited almost 3 years ago )

    Some of the icons are horrible, especially Contacts. Like you say it's finding that middle ground. I get it's hard, but come on...

    3 points
  • KQ DregerKQ Dreger, almost 3 years ago

    For me, the evolving design language of iOS is a pendulum. Originally, we started out way in faux field [1], then iOS 7 brought us into flatland, and I'm curious if the next few years will reintroduce some sense of, what I think Material Design articulates well, "light, surface, and movement [that] are key to conveying how objects move, interact, and exist in space and in relation to each other."

    [1]:

    A full-fuax interface isn't needed anymore, but I think iPhone OS—iOS 6 did a great job at introducing a touch driven interface to the masses. Making a button look touchable or having pages that curled with your swipe helped take what we knew in the real world, and tie it to this new, touch-driven interaction model.

    Yet, time passed and we all got used to the conventions. Today, you can show someone a slightly-rounded rectangle with text inside, and most folks will know it's a button. Same thing with colored icons; there's a instinct to tap on these types of things now. We've acclimated.

    I agree with Trevor and Charlie — moving to flatland was a great reset, but I'd like to see the reintroduction of certain skeuomorphic properties to the current iOS design.

    2 points
    • Jesse Head, almost 3 years ago (edited almost 3 years ago )

      I'm curious if the next few years will reintroduce some sense of, what I think Material Design articulates well, "light, surface, and movement [that] are key to conveying how objects move, interact, and exist in space and in relation to each other."

      I think we're already seeing that in places like the new tvOS, and even the Yosemite redesign to a lesser degree... both of which are fantastic.

      0 points
  • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, almost 3 years ago

    Glory days of iOS. How much I miss them.

    2 points
  • Trevor Stacy, almost 3 years ago

    It's skeuominimalism, sort of (here's a great article if you don't know what that is http://sachagreif.com/flat-pixels/). I think what Apple's done is take skeuominimalism to the extreme, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's up to taste. I do agree they could've kept some elements of their skeuomorphic palette in the new design, but I like it none-the-less. I think who's really done a good job finding a balance with skeuominimalism, even better than Google, is Facebook. Their redesign in the past month or so has really blown me away. I won't go into details because that could take a while, but it's great.

    2 points
  • Alejandro DorantesAlejandro Dorantes, almost 3 years ago

    My personal opinion is that skeumorphism worked to introduce UI/UX to the masses without them even realizing how important it is (being the whole point of the process) they quickly learned how to use stuff on a screen as if they were physical conceptions and once that succeeded, simplification of the process took place.

    1 point
  • Jesper KlingenbergJesper Klingenberg, almost 3 years ago

    that iOS6 maps icon though... driving off the road onto the freeway... love it!

    1 point
  • Robin RaszkaRobin Raszka, almost 3 years ago

    You are just looking at the surface (unfortunately most "designers" do this today), "flat" (stupid name) design languange was made to make it easy to develop for multiple variations of screen resolutions.

    0 points
    • Jesse Head, almost 3 years ago (edited almost 3 years ago )

      I completely get that, and I'm in no way suggesting we return to iOS 6-esque design... however I think there is a middle ground Apple could have gone with. For example, the new Apple TV UI is far better than iOS IMO. Same with the OS X Yosemite redesign... they went 'flatter' without losing all personality.

      0 points
      • Robin RaszkaRobin Raszka, almost 3 years ago (edited almost 3 years ago )

        Oh, so you have already tried the not-yet-released Apple TV to state it has better UI (not even considering the fact it's completely different type of device i.e. no multitouch) or, again and even more wrongly, judging just the surface?

        0 points