• Made in Australia for iOS 7

    Change is everywhere, and the latest version of iOS is no exception. IOS 7 brings extensive visual changes to a mobile OS that has been largely unchanged since its launch in 2007 alongside the original iPhone, and for a lot of people, it's something almost entirely new. Not necessarily different, but definitely something new.

    The good news is, while it may look different in almost every perceivable way, it still works more or less the same as its predecessors. While the changes might look like a new coat of paint, the overall look and feel of iOS is now cleaner, lighter, and more modern. There are new features such as the parallax home screen wallpaper that introduce a sense of physical interaction, like you're holding and using something that feels real. Layered UI elements back up this physicality and dimensionality, and translucency and blur only add to the effect.

    But ask anyone in the know, and they'll tell you it's about the apps. And when it comes to third-party apps, no other smartphone platform comes close to the quality of third party apps on iOS. IOS developers are doing some truly great work, and a lot of that is making apps that fit in with the rest of iOS, whether they're using slightly customised UI elements or rolling something completely custom. The look and feel of apps contributes a lot to how usable any app is, and iOS 7 drives home that point with an emphasis on decluttered user interfaces and edge-to-edge content.

    There's been more than a few roundups of made for iOS 7 apps, but I've yet to see one with apps by Australian developers. Until now.

    First cab off the rank is TripView, a popular app for viewing Sydney public transport data. Folks in Sydney are lucky as their public transport data is available via Google Maps, but clients like TripView make that data all the more accessible. TripView is a great app that lets you know when the next bus or train to your destination is, and whether it's running on-time or a little late.

    I had the chance to talk to developer Nick Maher about what his thoughts on iOS 7 where, and when asked what the biggest thing to get excited about in iOS 7 was, as a developer, he said that he really liked the new flat look. "It's crisp and clean, and puts the emphasis on content. Background updates are pretty exciting too. I haven't yet added support for them in TripView, but it will make a lot of sense to have it download timetable updates in the background."

    Background updates make a lot of sense for many apps as it means apps that apps don't need to be pulled-to-refreshed just another way iOS 7 makes things more usable and more functional for the end user. TripView Sydney is $2.99 on the App Store, and the iOS 7 update has been live for over a week now.

    Quick Math+ is from developers Shiny Things, and it's the successor to their iOS title Quick Math that features all new modes of play. Quick Math+ has been designed from the ground up for iOS 7. It's about solving simple, hard, and outrageously challenging maths puzzles as fast as possible. Quick Math+ isn't in the App Store just yet (it's still waiting for approval from Apple), but you can easily tell that Shiny Things have taken their cues from Apple in designing Quick Math+; there's no keyboard to be seen, making the interface less cluttered, and the numbers-focused handwriting recognition is seriously impressive.

    I asked developer Mat Peterson why their app wasn't ready for iOS 7, and he told me that the reason for not shipping their iOS 7 update on time was that they were all still recovering from the parallax-induced motion sickness, where they found out too late that it could be disabled in Settings. (To be clear, Quick Math+ has been submitted to the App Store, and is just waiting for Apple approval. Perhaps the App Store approval team are suffering from the same parallax-induced motion sickness? In the meantime, Quick Math is available for $1.99 on the App Store.)

    Cook is a brand-new app from Australian developers Apps Perhaps, and it's a personalised take on the digital cook book. You can create your own cook book by creating and editing your own recipes, and there's even a social aspect to find your friends' cook books. Like many other great iOS 7 apps, Cook uses colour and blur to great effect, and the app icon even has a nice and subtle gradient that complements colours used within the app.

    I've talked to enough people now to know that iOS 7 is pretty decisive; you'll either love it or you'll hate it. It might grow on you over time, but you'll probably hate the way it changes things you previously loved about your favourite mobile OS. Nerds like you and I might love the fresh new look of iOS 7, but there are some that think there's too much change. I asked developer Alex whether he thought users will embrace it with open arms or whether there would be enough backlash to put every previous iPhone-gate to shame. His response was reasonably grounded: "we've enjoyed the iOS7 refresh and embraced the opportunity it presents when creating Cook. There will always be people that love something new and people that hate it. Change is a really difficult thing to manage but to be honest this one will seem largely aesthetic, most of the interactions are the same and built-in app functionality and placement is similar despite the new designs. I wouldn't be surprised if most people outside of our industry don't register as much of a difference as we expect."

    It's funny, because I emailed Alex before the public release of iOS 7, and I think it's pretty telling that there hasn't been as much backlash as us nerds originally thought there might be. I mean, people have been more obsessed about how the iPhone 5s fingerprint sensor isn't completely foolproof as they Apple made it out to be* either user backlash against iOS 7 has just fallen by the wayside, or people are just learning to deal with it.

    Cook is a free download, and is now available on the App Store.

    The iOS 7 update to Discovr is hot off the press, and it's been worth the wait. Developers Stuart Hall and Dave McKinney from Filter Squad have been working on it for over a year, and it looks amazing. It's been designed from the ground up for iOS 7, of course, but also has a few cool new features for all Discovr users, new and old. It's more personal, more social, and even more about the music than ever before, with full-length streaming songs right within the app. The number one music app in 52 countries just got even better, and is now available free on the App Store.

    Look at any one of the numerous iOS 7 app redesign posts and you'll see a lot of the same thing: predominantly white interfaces, blue-outlined iconography, and menu bars that have some kind of translucent effect applied. One of my biggest fears with iOS 7 is that apps will return to the stage that we had when the App Store was in its infancy, where the UI was pretty much only what Apple gave developers in UIKit. As much as I'm excited for some really great app updates, I kind of have the feeling that iOS 7 apps will gravitate towards the same look and feel, like they did when developers relied on Apple's built-in UI Kit assets. Now that the App Store is a little more mature and developers are branching out into their own styles, do you think that will happen, or will we see the same great innovation we are at the moment? I posed the question to Filter Squad's Stuart and Dave, who said the following.

    Stuart replied: "I think you are spot on, we will see a lot of similar looking apps (with a few exceptions) as developers scramble towards being ready for iOS 7. Over the next 3-6 months we should see some real innovation as developers start taking the iOS 7 lead and really making it their own."

    Dave, who had previously written something similar, said: "in the next month we'll see many, many apps strictly adopt the new visual style of iOS 7. This is the first wave. Within a few months we'll see a massive attempt at differentiation as developers try to stand out from the pack. After that, we'll see the landscape settle down, and we'll see the apps that really work for their users start to dominate. They might fit into the native feel or they might not. It doesn't matter. They'll just be concentrating on what their users need, and I can't wait for that."

    And at the end of the day, isn't that concentrating on your users and their experience when using the app what any good app is all about?

    IOS 7 brings a lot of change, and perhaps not all of it will be to your liking. But developers Australian or otherwise are working hard to make sure their apps are up to scratch. And that's really all we could hope for, because it means some truly great apps for us.

    A special shout out to a few other Aussie-made, designed-for-iOS 7 apps that weren't specifically mentioned: Pocket Casts 4, Clipp, Beanhunter, and any others that I might have missed.

    Benny Ling loves playing with fresh new apps almost as much as he loves playing GTA V and referring to himself in the third person, in that order. Follow him on Twitter.
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