Apple’s announcement of iOS 7 (the latest version of the company’s mobile operating system) adopting a flat design is a game-changer for designers. Apple has even released a guide to help mobile developers move towards the flat design style. The flatter user interface of iOS 7 is a stark departure from the earlier design philosophy of previous versions of the operating system.

Goodbye Skeumorphic Designs

Apps relied heavily on drop shadows, simulated textures, and varied lighting effects that mimicked real-world objects, which was called Skeumorphism.

With the rapid adoption of smartphones and mobile devices with touch control surfaces in just the last several years, the thinking was that we, the users, needed skeumorphic user interfaces to teach us how to use these new devices.

The thinking went like this: By mimicking real-world materials and real-world mechanics, skeumorphic user interfaces allowed us to transition from the more familiar input devices (e.g., keyboards, push buttons, notebooks, and so on) to touch-based interactions (e.g., gestures, virtual buttons, etc.) much easier.

Now that touchscreen interfaces are more prevalent, and their use is more apparent to people, we can observe app developers slowly shedding those skeumorphic visual cues in user interfaces in favor of flatter and — dare I say — simpler interfaces.

What is Flat Design?

Flat UIs rely mostly on simple lines, contrasting colors, and legibility to maximize the effectiveness of the design.

Of course, these themes aren’t new to design.

The flattening of user interfaces could be likened to the proliferation of Swiss design styles in the 1950′s with the style’s emphasis on clean lines, legibility, and use of photography.

Today’s flat designs operate on principles similar to the International Typographic Style or Swiss Design: They are meant to enhance the reader’s experience.

Flat Design Showcase

With Apple’s announcement of their newest iOS, we can’t help but be excited about what this next evolution of user interfaces will bring to the App store.

Here are some examples of apps that already embody parts of the Flat Design style.

Elevatr

Flat Design example: Elevatr

Flat Design example: Elevatr

Flat Design example: Elevatr

Letterpress

Flat Design example: Letterpress

Flat Design example: Letterpress

Flat Design example: Letterpress

Dots

Flat Design example: Dots

Flat Design example: Dots

Flat Design example: Dots

Solar

Flat Design example: Solar

Flat Design example: Solar

Any.Do

Flat Design example: Any.Do

Flat Design example: Any.Do

Flipboard

Flat Design example: Flipboard

Flat Design example: Flipboard

FIGR

Flat Design example: FIGR

Flat Design example: FIGR

Clear

Flat Design example: Clear

Flat Design example: Clear

Flat Design example: Clear

Vivo

Flat Design example: Vivo

Flat Design example: Vivo

Color Zen

Flat Design example: Color Zen

Flat Design example: Color Zen

Flat Design example: Color Zen

Fitocracy

Flat Design example: Fitocracy

Flat Design example: Fitocracy

Beatronome

Flat Design example: Beatronome

Flat Design example: Beatronome

Pixl

Flat Design example: Pixl

Flat Design example: Pixl

VSCO cam

Flat Design example: VSCO cam

Flat Design example: VSCO cam

Flat Design example: VSCO cam

Dumb Ways to Die

Flat Design example: Dumb Ways to Die

Flat Design example: Dumb Ways to Die

Share your thoughts about the subject of Flat Design and iOS 7′s move towards flatter UIs in the comments below.

Author:

Isaac is the Co-Founder and Chief Editor of Design Instruct. He has experience in various design and art related fields including design, illustration, and photography. He's in charge of making sure that Design Instruct publishes high quality content that professional designers and digital artists demand and expect. Get in touch via email and on Twitter as @designinstruct or @IAMTHEGUBE.