Yahoo + iOS7 weather

Having had iOS7 for a few months now, it's nice to see a bunch of other people getting to experience the vastly improved new default weather app.

Taking most of it's design cues (minus the gorgeous flickr photos) from Yahoo's weather app, the new stuff from apple is probably going to decrease the rapid pace of new weather apps for John Gruber to blog about.

The Facebook Drawer

When Facebook updated their iOS app to basically not suck (e.g. rendering all the page content using native UIKit frameworks vs. the clunky HTML 5), the app's drawer navigation pattern really started taking off.  Hundreds of other apps have since copied the design, not always because it was a first choice, but because the pattern was easy to implement and because users knew how to use it.  Now, with iOS 7, after a long process of user testing, Facebook has pulled the drawer from their app - replacing it as a tab in a more standardized bottom navigation bar.

I've always been pretty grumpy about the drawer pattern, but have at times been tempted to use it because of it's ubiquity.  It's a frustrating interaction for me when important navigation stuff is only addressable in the drawer, but you are screens deep into another flow.  Take for instance, the @rdio app.  You can be drilled into a page detail, and if you want to view your playlists you have to back out 3-4 levels to get to the home screen, which then allows you to access the drawer and select "playlists."  This frustrating pattern exists in a ton of apps, including Facebook where drawer navigation is necessary to do basic navigation tasks.  

This really is the rub with drawers.  It is frustrating when apps treat it not as a place for global settings or sometimes-important minutia but rather as a substitute for a navigation system.  Unfortunately, because Facebook did it, lots of other apps starting doing it and realized it was easier to throw stuff in the drawer than it was to think hard about how their product was going to be used and navigated.  But easy usually wins, and I've been guilty of similar thinking.  Also, because Facebook did it, it became an immediately viable pattern to implement because millions of other users knew how to use it, and knew what it meant.  Ease and ubiquity led to the popularization of a pattern that is much to easy to abuse at the expense of a good experience.

But now Facebook is undoing it, in effect pulling the rug out from under the thousands of apps who had their designs validated by the largest app out there.  I think this is a great step by Facebook, and I hope people follow their lead, or at least rethink the drawer pattern with a better eye towards usability. 

Colorful screens

One of the most prevalent mobile design patterns is full screen views.  Google uses it a lot in their native and iOS apps, and Apple has even established the pattern as a default in their new version of iOS. 

@rdio does a really nice job with the full screen views in their iOS app.  For the "now playing" full screen views, they dynamically pull the color palette of the album art, and use it as the gradient background of the view.  This is a pretty subtle detail, but it creates a sense of immersion that enhances the full screen-ness of the design.

Of course, maybe it's no coincidence that the iPhone 5c extends the use of color to the hardware itself.  Unifying colors, particularly in a contextual, dynamic way, is an interesting way of putting content in the forefront, allowing interface to fade away.