On thing that I’ve learned over time is that bad design is rarely the problem. Instead it is almost always the manifestation of a confused mission.
A web page may have too many buttons, because the business couldn’t decide what its primary goal should be. The page may be cluttered with images and text, because everyone in an over-crowed meeting decided to add their own bit. The payment processing takes 12 pages because of an attachment to a legacy payment system.
However, dramatic changes to a design can be a great signal to users that a change has happened.
This is what I’m hoping for from the upcoming version of iOS…a signal of change.
It is important to remember that non-Apple-developed apps were an add-on feature to iOS. The UI didn’t need to consider how to best handle 100’s of apps. The UI didn’t need to consider how one app may optionally want to communicate with another app. The UI didn’t need to consider how an app would display information without being opened first.
Since its launch, every other mobile OS has eaten Apple’s lunch with regards to the base UI. Android’s widgets, Windows’ dashboard, Blackberry 10’s keyboard, etc.
Flattening the look of apps won’t make a change, but it can signal Apple re-taking the lead in the mobile user experience.