In this two part series we’ll be looking at over the past 5 years how both iOS and Android app’s have changed and developed. From the UX to the UI. In this edition we are focusing on iOS and rather than looking at obscure apps no ones ever heard of or interacted with, we’ve gone for some of the biggest apps that have been around for this time period.
To kick things off lets take a look at every hipsters favourite app, Instagram. This sillicon valley juggernaut has been around for over half a decade now and since its first iteration there have been quite a few changes.. just not very significant ones, at least not visually. From an aesthetic point of view the bevels have gone and random gradients that were so popular mid naughties, the iconography has evolved with the times and a bit of clutter has been removed but apart from that… its all the same. We could pretty much say the same for the UX, but whats interesting is the introduction of advertising into the app over the next 2 weeks or so. Having not had a chance to try it I can’t say much but i’ve heard this is where the UX really gets a kick up the backside, so I’ll update this piece in the near future.
If your someone who likes easily digestible news delivered to you in a great looking package, chances are Flipboard has a home on your iPhone. From its inception the app has been very simple, flanking big images with type. In the 5 year transition the app has gained a further influence of minimalism, the typography has much more air about it, social integration has become prominent whilst the focus has gone to transitions and menu design to make the news stories you want right at the forefront of Flipboard.
This holiday rental juggernaut has had quite a change in style over the past few years, thanks largely to their somewhat recent redesign from the ground up not only as an app but as a brand. Looking back the design looks incredibly outdated with bevels, drop shadows and big, fat strokes everywhere, arching back to a brand that was more for kids than adults. 2015 Airbnb couldn’t be more different. Its a brand full of confidence, a brand that has garnered its trust, with a beautifully designed up thats clearly minimalist but not overtly so, with some clever UX tricks (including a map that browses as you look through it) among other things.
Like most apps in that time, Facebook went heavy skeumorphism 5 years ago. Shine and gloss was all over the place, gradients were the norm, typography was squished and not that legible. Facebook’s biggest fault has been the immense amount of information it tries to throw at you on mobile, something that was really obvious 5 years ago and still unfortunately holds strong now. The differences currently are the type and legibility has improved and certain buttons have been thrown out (well put in the menu… you know so you can’t see it) but besides that its the exact same app which is a shame.
To put it bluntly looking back at Gmail in 2010 makes my head hurt. It really was a visual clusterfuck and UI all over the place. Outside of all the call back visual aesthetics, like gradients and skeuphormics, its the way CTA are brought through back in 2010 that really hurt the app. There’s very little spacing (admittedly working in much smaller screens), colours blend into one another, overlays are over existing overlays and there’s no real hierarchy. The current version of Gmail has moved on quite a bit. All the typical flat design tidbits are visible, but whats most impressive is the cut-back on unnecessary CTA and content, resulting in a much cleaner, airy layout that you can tackle without much effort at all.