The more I look at hands on videos and pictures of iOS 7, the more I think that bad things in it are fixable. This is beta software and I can see Apple tweaking iOS 7 visual elements before being available to the mass this fall. The first thing Apple has to address is then home screen icons.
I hate Android from the bottom of my heart. I hate it because my experience in computers which started when the world was full of Apple IIs saw the rise of the PCs and all the complexities that came with them. Android is the re-birth of the PC complexities and bad user experiences that I cannot stand anymore. The iPhone and the iPad just works. They represents what computers are all about: helping the user to get a task done without thinking about using a computer. But they are not perfect.
The top picture represents a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 running Android 4.0. What do you see on the picture? Something that looks like a desktop or a dashboard to a digital world. Now consider the iPad’s home screen. You get a bunch of icons distributed in a grid view. I think this “desktop” is the thing that I feel is the least inspired on the iPad. Apple could have used the larger space to do something else than a larger iPhone home screen. I understand the value of this design on a small 3.5” screen but on an 9,7” screen, I find it to be lazy design. I always thought that this design was a glorified view of the old Palm home screen. Some are starting to tell Apple to do something about it: iOS Home screen as a concept is fundamentally broken.
What I’d like to see on the iPad home screen is an open windows to my digital world. A place to look and start my applications yes but a place where I can type in a search for Google (I don’t like the current search screen hidden on the left), peek at the weather or easily turn on the Plane Mode before taking off. You see, put together they represent apps, shortcuts, widgets and the like. I want something that blend them on a digital desk without looking a traditional computer desktop. I want to be able to use spaces just like on Mac OS X for different purposes. The current home screen with Newstand and folders is a start of the extension of the original home screen design but not the answer to all my desires.
Lets hope iOS 6 will be an answer to many of my desires.
[Update: read this other point of view on the necessity of a new home screen design: Why a New iOS Home Screen is a Big Deal].