iOS 7 borrows heavily from its competition, but should we care?

June 11, 2013
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iOS 7 Design

If you were online at all yesterday, you probably heard at least a little bit about Apple’s latest iOS 7. The new UI is completely redesigned and transforms the aging platform into something modern and fresh. At the same time, it also looks very familiar.

Some of this is because at it’s heart it is still iOS, but some of the familiarity also comes from features that Apple has swiped from the competition.

Immediately we are seeing mixed opinions about iOS 7, and not just from the Apple crowd. There are Android enthusiasts that are applauding the redesign, and there are folks that are outraged by Apple “borrowing” features from the competition.

The reality is that there is nothing new under the sun. So why are there so many folks deeply insulted or angered by the features that Apple has cherry-picked from its rivals?

We’ll get into that shortly, but let’s start with a look at some of the features that obviously drew inspiration from other platforms.

These features look familiar…

The Lock Screen

The iOS 7 lockscreen is dramatically different from prior versions of iOS and even brings the Notification Center right to the lock screen, something that we’ve seen with Android for a long while now.

Even the whole design, background image, and text seem to take heavy cues from Android’s lockscreen. I will, however, give Apple credit for its “massive innovation” of making the notification bar translucent – that’s a nice touch.

Apple’s Back “Button”

While Android has always had a back button, iOS users haven’t had this same luxury. This all changes starting with iOS 7, which lets you swipe your finger from the left edge of the screen to go to the previous screen.

This isn’t a “back button” in the traditional sense, but it works the same. If you are thinking you’ve heard of this before, you have, BB10 offers the same kind of swipe functionality.

Multi-tasking in iOS 7

From WebOS to Android, and even Windows Phone – just about every mobile operating system offered a better multi-tasking experience than what was found in Apple’s iOS, up until now.

This time around, iOS 7 gets a card-style UI that shows a full preview of apps that are currently running. A similar feature exists in Android, of course. The new multi-tasking interface also heavily resembles the multi-tasking in WebOS.

Automatic Updates

One of the more painful aspects of iOS is updating apps.

Unlike Android, there is no automatic updates, and instead you have to manually keep track and go into the App Store for said updates. This is finally changing with iOS 7 – a feature that has been on Android devices for quite some time.

iOS 7 Notification Center

Control Center

Starting in iOS 7, Apple is introducing a Control Center. This new center has settings for things like Bluetooth, Airplane Mode and a screen rotation all in one convenient place.

Sound familiar? TouchWiz and other Android custom skins have had this forever now, and since Jelly Bean, so has stock Android.

We could go on all day…

This is far from a complete list of features that have made their way onto iOS 7 coming from other operating systems. That’s not even mentioning features that Apple borrowed from 3rd party apps or even from the Apple jailbreak scene. You get the point though.

Apple is not afraid to copy features from other operating systems and apps and then bring them over to their own products. Does it really matter though? Yes and no.

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