iOS 7 is singlehandedly the biggest update to come through the pipeline for iOS. We still find ourselves immersed in the same Apple universe, but everything has been given a fresh coat of paint. Love it or hate it, iOS 7's beauty has grown on people. And the newfound beauty is more than just skin deep.
Not only has Apple overhauled iOS' visual design, developers have taken advantage of the fertile ground as well. In fact, Marco’s prediction was spot on back in June. We have seen a newfound interest in app development and the resulting design paradigm shift has left iOS 6 in the dust. iOS 7’s new design cues immediately rendered non-updated apps obsolete and stale.
These three apps are my choices for the best iOS 7 updates of the year. I have used these apps every day since their inception. But, to make the list, I needed to experience a rise in my usage of the app following the update. I experienced a rekindled passion for these three apps and I haven’t considered using an alternative. For the most part, these three apps made the list solely on visual design. While I won’t directly discuss capabilities, you can rest assured that these iOS 7 redesigns were far deeper than just a visual overhaul.
The design iteration we have seen over the past few months has been far beyond anything I ever expected. In somewhat overwhelming fashion, it has exceeded my expectations.
The original Tweetbot maintained a spunky, playful interface full of clicks, beeps and whirls that suited iOS 6 perfectly. Its "heavy”, mechanical design embodied the skeumorphic design philosophy cherished in the Forstall-era.
But when iOS 7 was introduced, Tweetbot became clunky and industrial. The heavy design remained in the clean iOS 7 environment and caused me some concern for Tweetbot's future. I remember contemplating how Tapbots would maintain Tweetbot's unique personality in a white, shiny and unindustrial environment.
<p>Boy they pulled it off. Tweetbot 3 is reminiscent of a young chick spreading its wings and flying out of the nest. The personality of Tweetbot 3 continues to stay true to its original mechanized form, but sheds the extra fat for new sounds, fun animations and improved usability. It might be the most beautiful app on the App Store today. </p>
Tweetbot 3 is the quintessential iOS 7 re-release. The app stays true to its roots but enhances and even improves upon the iOS 7 design aesthetic. More than your own personal robot, Tweetbot 3 polarizes its iOS 6 predecessor and re-ignited my passion to stay true to one Twitter client.
I've been a Day One user since the day it was launched. I've written in my journal every day for over a year. I even recently took my first trip back into the journal to reminisce with family. There is something deeply sentimental about Day One.
Day One has always been an iteratively improved app. Day One first started with simple text-only posts and incorporated photos and other post options over time. Its visual design followed the same path; improvements were made gradually and Day One's personal experience became increasingly powerful.
So, when Day One’s iOS 7 update launched, I expected another gradual change.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
<p>Day One’s iOS 7 design is nothing short of gorgeous. The new look makes use of thinner fonts and icons. Photo posts, my personal favourite, can be presented in a stunning full screen view. And finally, Day One’s new Timeline makes great use of white space to fit in with the rest of iOS 7. </p>
Like Tweetbot 3, Day One’s iOS 7 update rekindled my love for one of my first paid apps. I post more things to my personal journal now that Day One’s beauty matches its usability.
Like many game changing apps, Fantastical is simply the best calendar on iOS. Fantastical introduced the best natural language parsing engine for the iPhone and its main list view makes it easy to see what is next on the docket.
Fantastical didn’t receive an update immediately upon the release of iOS 7 and I couldn’t help but notice. Agenda Calendar 4 looked right at home on iOS 7 and I ended up using Agenda more than Fantastical. Of course, Fantastical’s natural language parsing can be used via Agenda, so I still utilized Fantastical. But this, combined with text-funnelling apps like Drafts, meant I rarely launched Fantastical.
<p>That all changed after Fantastical 2 for iOS 7. I now use Fantastical to input my events and to browse my calendar. Like Day One, Fantastical 2 uses thinner fonts and a greater use of white space to orient the user. Event views are simple and beautiful, especially when a map is generated based on event location. </p>
Bar none, my favourite theme in Fantastical 2 is the light theme. I love the white list view with the red top bar. The dark theme is equally beautiful and is simply my second choice due to my white space bias.
Fantastical has always been one of those apps that should be downloaded before opening the stock app. Fantastical 2 only adds to the beauty and usability of the best calendar app on the market.
This list was extremely difficult to narrow down. I especially love Scratch’s iOS 7 redesign — the new icon is arguably the best icon in the App Store — but I didn’t experience a bump in my use of the app. Silvio Rizzi’s Reeder 2 is also a great redesign, but again, my love for the app didn’t grow post-update. Lastly, both Instapaper and Vesper look fantastic in iOS 7, but my use of them plateaued prior to iOS 7.
Iteration is a beautiful thing. 2013 was a year for iterative innovation in hardware and software design and I believe that will be the trend from here on. Iteration allows for users to still feel comfortable with what they see but also allows for incremental improvements. I not only love these iterative redesigns, I’ll support them monetarily and with a smile on my face.
I can’t wait to see what 2014 will bring us. An update is expected for Tweetbot for iPad and I am anxiously awaiting an iPad version of Fantastical. Knowing these developers’ work in the past, these apps will be well worth the wait.