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

June 11, 2013

    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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    • Gilles LeBlanc

      No

    • Gilles LeBlanc

      No

    • LAKAME

      If Apple intends to continue these stupid patent wars, yes.
      If Apple is finally gonna stop suing every freaking rival for stupid things, then no.

    • LAKAME

      If Apple intends to continue these stupid patent wars, yes.
      If Apple is finally gonna stop suing every freaking rival for stupid things, then no.

    • Justin Roskowske

      My thoughts exactly.

    • Justin Roskowske

      My thoughts exactly.

    • Luposlipophobic

      I juste want to say that : http://9gag.com/gag/agy3Bww

    • Luposlipophobic

      I juste want to say that : http://9gag.com/gag/agy3Bww

    • Mvrcel Lgt

      yep, exactly what I thought! Thx for writing it down.

    • Mvrcel Lgt

      yep, exactly what I thought! Thx for writing it down.

    • Friðberg Leifs Jensson

      The only thing I can see it iOS is more colourful and took many things from other competitors

    • Friðberg Leifs Jensson

      The only thing I can see it iOS is more colourful and took many things from other competitors

    • Benjamin Pavel

      The only thing i am jealous of new iOS 7 is that new colorful light theme everywhere.
      Wish i could have that on my phone. >_>

      • EKfine

        you mean that gayish/childish theme ios 7 has?

    • Benjamin Pavel

      The only thing i am jealous of new iOS 7 is that new colorful light theme everywhere.
      Wish i could have that on my phone. >_>

      • EKfine

        you mean that gayish/childish theme ios 7 has?

    • Alfredo Manuel Gonzalez II

      Its a joke that they steal ideas from Android and other platforms but then the minute someone makes something like Apple the go SUE CRAZY!!!! WTF!!! They sued Samsung over a shape I mean come on. If Apple stops their dumb law suits then by all means but i bet it will not. And another thing maybe they would be more innovative if they stopped wasting their time with their law suits and use their ENERGY to Innovate!

      • AppleLover

        mmm… Maybe because Android (especially Samsung) “borrowed” almost everything from Apple to begin with?

        • Idiot

          Name it. The shape? WOW. They copied a homescreen with Icons? Remind me, what’s on your computer’s desktop? Go back in your hole

    • Alfredo Manuel Gonzalez II

      Its a joke that they steal ideas from Android and other platforms but then the minute someone makes something like Apple the go SUE CRAZY!!!! WTF!!! They sued Samsung over a shape I mean come on. If Apple stops their dumb law suits then by all means but i bet it will not. And another thing maybe they would be more innovative if they stopped wasting their time with their law suits and use their ENERGY to Innovate!

    • Power2112

      Good objective article. It’s like you took down my thoughts and put it on paper (virtual as it may be).

    • Power2112

      Good objective article. It’s like you took down my thoughts and put it on paper (virtual as it may be).

    • zubairali

      Hi Siri, What is the interface on Andriod?

    • zubairali

      Hi Siri, What is the interface on Andriod?

    • StretchDee1

      I hated apple to begin with and I hate them even more now. Those S.O.Bs.

      • mrochester

        Why would you hate a company, especially one who helps to keep others on their toes?

    • StretchDee1

      I hated apple to begin with and I hate them even more now. Those S.O.Bs.

    • Ronak

      Google (Android) should sue Apple for their new UI.

    • Ronak

      Google (Android) should sue Apple for their new UI.

      • D’Ander McSullivan

        They won’t. They’re very nice to do that.

        • mrochester

          Samsung and HTC sue other companies all the time.

          • D’Ander McSullivan

            I meant Google…

      • sky

        maybe the other mobile companies like HTC, Sammy and others should sue Apple

        • ewrasdfaf

          They both Google, Sammy, and HTC should sue for this, like apple sued sammy. Sammy deserves a proper appology after the Nexus incident.

    • Timmy

      Great article.

      If whatever Apple does that sparks others to innovate and NOT get sued, then iOS7 is great.

      Really though, hardly any of this is innovative, even for Apple. At some point, they’ll need to expand their phones to include more size options along with the features inside. Instead of making customer fit Apple’s idea of what a device should be, they could learn a little from what other manufacturers have done with Android and Windows Phone.

      I doubt Apple will ever become as customizable as Android but if enough useful features are part of the OS, it may not be necessary.

    • Timmy

      Great article.

      If whatever Apple does that sparks others to innovate and NOT get sued, then iOS7 is great.

      Really though, hardly any of this is innovative, even for Apple. At some point, they’ll need to expand their phones to include more size options along with the features inside. Instead of making customer fit Apple’s idea of what a device should be, they could learn a little from what other manufacturers have done with Android and Windows Phone.

      I doubt Apple will ever become as customizable as Android but if enough useful features are part of the OS, it may not be necessary.

      • mrochester

        The trouble is, when you ask customers what they want, they don’t actually know. Ford famously once said that if he’d asked his customers what they wanted before he invented the car, they would have asked for a faster horse. We rely on Apple, and others, to show us what it is that we want. Speaking to a bunch of nerds and making products based on their requests is a sure fire way of flopping quickly and spectacularly in this market.

    • Thomas Vales

      I dont really mind. IOS was well overdue a facelift and for the most part the new ui design is nice. Also it seems like they added tons of new features (to iOS), It seems they cant win with you all. Either they don’t have the features you want and you fault them for it then when they add them you cry copying. -___- I mean how many intuitive ways are there to show a notification or toggle quick settings. That being said the majority of this was playing catch up to android, so when key lime pie drops they may be behind again. I for 1 am glad to see them pose some type of competition for android having one clear winner is boring I want the phone race (OS) to be neck in neck.

    • Thomas Vales

      I dont really mind. IOS was well overdue a facelift and for the most part the new ui design is nice. Also it seems like they added tons of new features (to iOS), It seems they cant win with you all. Either they don’t have the features you want and you fault them for it then when they add them you cry copying. -___- I mean how many intuitive ways are there to show a notification or toggle quick settings. That being said the majority of this was playing catch up to android, so when key lime pie drops they may be behind again. I for 1 am glad to see them pose some type of competition for android having one clear winner is boring I want the phone race (OS) to be neck in neck.

    • babyree

      “iOS 7 borrows heavily from its competition, but should we care?” I care because when others borrows from Apple, they SUE and I get inundated on the news with their patent wars. Now with the new iOS7, will others sue Apple?

    • babyree

      “iOS 7 borrows heavily from its competition, but should we care?” I care because when others borrows from Apple, they SUE and I get inundated on the news with their patent wars. Now with the new iOS7, will others sue Apple?

      • seemon rahman

        Looking into legality Android is open source.

    • ijks

      When Apple does it, it’s borrowing.
      When someone else does it, it’s stealing.

    • ijks

      When Apple does it, it’s borrowing.
      When someone else does it, it’s stealing.

    • No One

      Very nice article.

    • No One

      Very nice article.

    • Sid

      Guys, just for the record, Apple usually has very long roadmaps. Apple probably had a lot of these “features” scheduled for release for years — it’s part of their “incremental updates” methodology. A way to slowly bring improvement to a product.

      I’m sure this took a whole week of coding. It’s not that they couldn’t introduce these features earlier — they didn’t want to. If you actually follow Apple closely — that’s their MO. When they announce a product, iPod, iPhone, unibody macbook — they pretty much know which enhancements they’ll bring to it each iteration, and those plans probably go out 5 to 10 years. That’s just the type of organization they are — think BMW 3 series, the E36 lasted about 5 years, the E46 lasted about 5 years… same thing.

    • Sid

      Guys, just for the record, Apple usually has very long roadmaps. Apple probably had a lot of these “features” scheduled for release for years — it’s part of their “incremental updates” methodology. A way to slowly bring improvement to a product.

      I’m sure this took a whole week of coding. It’s not that they couldn’t introduce these features earlier — they didn’t want to. If you actually follow Apple closely — that’s their MO. When they announce a product, iPod, iPhone, unibody macbook — they pretty much know which enhancements they’ll bring to it each iteration, and those plans probably go out 5 to 10 years. That’s just the type of organization they are — think BMW 3 series, the E36 lasted about 5 years, the E46 lasted about 5 years… same thing.

      • Adama Simmons

        NIce try, but no company waits this long to release features that could keep them competitive. Apple just knew that something drastic had to be done to reinvigorate theyre prehistoric device.

      • phreezerburn

        Bull. Apple patents everything they can and CLEARLY has no qualms about litigating so if they indeed HAD THESE FEATURES ALREADY, they would have been in front of a judge litigating such. Crack a book.

    • mrochester

      No, as long as the technology used has been properly licensed where appropriate.

    • swannanoa72

      So the time for Apple to ‘borrow’ from competition has arrived. Everything is fair in Love and War though.

    • Cornstarch

      ios 7 is still behind because they still don’t have launchers to replace Apple’s UI if you don’t like how it looks. you still can’t change the default Keyboard for Swiftkey nor the default Apps to open. There’s no widget for any Apps to display quick important info instead of opening the Apps to check your info

    • Julian Obeid

      Instead of bringing new changes they decide to mock all existing features and add a bit of their OS to make a change; one word though,their excuse is exactly what makes us understand them much more than they can see us with their own eye.

    • flamencoguy

      To quote Phil Schiller “can’t innovate my ass”. Well he is wrong. Little design tweaks are hardly innovation. A child can draw something new everyday. Show us something that no one else has done before.

      • Apple_Nexus

        Way to take a quote out of context! He was talking about the new Mac Pro which is an incredibly innovative design.

    • john

      iOS

    • nishantsirohi123

      worse than everything else
      most early devices(iphone 4 and ipad2 especially) wont get even half of the features of ios7.
      and yet apple has the gall to say that the devices shall be updated to ios7

      its like receiving jellybean update without “project butter and google now”

      even microsoft,no matter how much hate the received from their users with the WP8 apps being incompatible with WP7 devices and those not getting updated to WP8
      microsoft updated the user interface and added features to it but it was still Windowphone7 (7.8)

    • Abdullah

      The translucent notification bar is on the Samsung Galaxy S4 way before the iOS 7!!

    • seemon rahman

      Where is ios7 innovation? Never thought that apple will copy innovations that are few years back from andriod. They should copy inovations of Samsung like air view, air gesture, air scroll, air magnifying which is not found in many phone brand. Come on apple you may say this is not Samsung innovation but I am sure these innovation will be copy into apple ios in time to come.

    • chitetskoy

      And Apple will soon sue Google for having all these features which were actually borrowed (or copied) from Android.

    • chitetskoy

      Remember Apple actually sued Microsoft (or just threatened) when the latter released the first ever Windows, for “copying everything in the GUI.”

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