Since the preview of iOS 7 at WWDC 2013, the internet has been abuzz with accusations that iOS 7 is a copy of other mobile operating systems, notably Windows Phone. While Apple hasn’t lead the pack in OS design for a while now, iOS 7 shows that Apple still has some great design chops. But does this new version of Apple’s mobile operating system simply copy other phones, or is it more unique?
And, mostly sarcastically, didn’t everyone copy Apple – who reinvented to mobile operating system with the release of iPhone OS alongside the original iPhone? Smartphones and their operating systems never looked anything like they do today before Apple came into the market, and they haven’t looked the same (on any platform) since.
Find out what’s in common and what’s different after the break!
Some have gone as far as calling iOS 7 the latest version of Windows Phone. While iOS 7 may take some cues from Windows Phone, we’ll explore just how close of a copy it is – and from where Apple seems to have really taken their inspiration. Let’s start from the top.
The lock screen
The updated lock screen that iOS 7 sports is refreshing and new. Simple. More you. Consisting almost solely of your lock screen background, the new lock screen takes something that was so bland and familiar and gives it a more personal feeling. It no longer looks like an operating system, but instead something natural that you are interacting with in your hand.
Compare this to the Windows Phone lock screen (right) and there’s definitely some stark similarity. But where did this design originally come from? It seems to me that both most closely resemble the WebOS lock screen, as seen here on a Palm Pre. Though Apple may have released their refreshed home screen after Windows Phone, Microsoft was hardly the first to go minimal on locked devices.
Apple even goes a step further in minimizing, what you see while your phone is locked. Windows Phone-like weather information is missing – something I think iPhone fans would have loved.
But did Microsoft really copy WebOS, and did Apple really copy Windows Phone? It doesn’t seem like it. Each version is different enough to reveal inspiration as opposed to flat-out copying.
As you can see below, the incoming call notification screen on iOS 7 has some similarities with Windows Phone – though its hardly a direct copy.
The iPhone has always supported full-screen pictures of callers (even when Windows Phone didn’t exist), and slide-to-answer has been a staple of iOS since inception.
With iOS 6, Apple introduced the ability to respond to a call with a text instead, another first for iOS.
Though the look of the call answering screen is now more similar to Windows Phone, the closest it seems to come to copying Windows Phone is that it improves upon an existing design that previously improved on Apple’s first design.
The newer, more useful, multitasking interface that Apple is introducing in the latest iOS update brings a welcome improvement over the slide-up app tray of iOS 6 and before – and it looks like Windows Phone 8. Apple definitely borrowed heavily from Windows Phone in this fantastic redesign, as you can see in the image to the left.
WebOS pioneered this window preview style multitasking on the Palm Pre through the “Cards” system. Microsoft did choose to strip the standard home screen dock icons from their multitasking view, and Apple opted to keep their running app icons below the preview of what the app was doing last. Each approach is unique and appear to be mostly borrowed from WebOS.
While the Photos app received a huge upgrade in iOS 7, it didn’t include copying Windows Phone 8. The massive refresh brings a host of new features and an easier to use design, but is not influenced by Windows Phone at all. The placement of text and the vast amounts of new information provided is not similar in any way. The updated Photos app now provides better organization – by location and place – instead of just time as in previous versions and Windows Phone.
Gone are the days of endless scrolling through tiled images. It’s now easier than ever to find the photos you want.
Messages received only a light touch of paint in the iOS 7 refresh. It continues to look very little like Windows Phone 8’s – seen side-by-side to the right. The flattened design looks more similar to Windows Phone than it did before, but the similarities really end there. Apple kept their unique rounded chat bubbles, input box, and top navigation, which was something unique to mobile phones when it was first released.
There’s really no question here. Apple changed very little within Mail for iOS 7, but kept its streamline look focused on interface that’s easy to navigate. The difference is almost literally night and day. Mail on iOS is bright, informative, and intuitive. Windows Phone 8 keeps the standard system-wide look that’s dark and confusing – separate emails bleed together instead of standing out unobtrusively.
Windows Phone 8 is akin to a wall of text, making quick scanning more difficult. Thankfully, Apple did not copy this design.
The updated Calendar app provides more small refreshes from iOS 6 – focusing on flattening things out more than redoing the mobile calendar. It does look similar to Windows Phone 8, but so did the previous version – which hasn’t changed much since its debut with iPhone OS.
While not a copy of Windows Phone, the updated stock Weather app is definitely a “copy” of Yahoo! Weather. Apple has used Yahoo! for weather since the beginning, and appears to have included a weather app designed by Yahoo! in iOS 7. It’s almost an exact copy of the latest Yahoo! Weather app for iPhone – but without the awesome location and weather-based photos pulled in from Flickr. A sad omission.
Is there even a default weather app for Windows Phone? Weather Channel, maybe? I actually could not find a first party stock weather app. The only reason I consider Apple to have one is because it is not overtly branded by a third party.
Oh, how I wish Apple copied Windows Phone for social gaming. Game Center has nothing on Xbox Live – especially on design. Apple can’t seem to get Game Center right. It looked terrible before, but now it looks like Windows XP had a child with Windows Vista. The colors. The bare-bones navigation that makes me just want to close it. It looks like an old Windows 95 program that was designed by a programmer. It’s hideous.
Apple needs to copy Xbox Live’s interface immediately, and I don’t think anyone would fault them for it.
Definitely a copy, but not of Windows Phone 8. The brand new Control Center in iOS 7 looks and functions more like the feature that debuted with Android. This is totally a feature copy – but not really one of design. There are only so many ways that a control center can look, much like a power socket.
Apple absolutely ripped Android with this – finally.
This is not even a real discussion. iOS 7 and Windows Phone 8’s home screens differ in every way. Both Apple and Microsoft chose to go drastically different directions here, giving customers a big choice to make when deciding how they want their phone to look.
Apple practically invented the modern smartphone home screen. Microsoft reinvented it, but whether it’s better or not is purely a matter of preference.
This follows mostly along the same lines as incoming phone calls in iOS 7. Skype did pioneer the big faces and big buttons for video chats – borrowing from Apple’s incoming call interface. It could be said that Apple copied Skype in how incoming FaceTime calls work now, but Skype wasn’t initially created for Windows Phone. Skype was available on iOS first and developed to fit in with the OS, but with a splash of Skype that would be familiar for desktop Skype users.
Ultimately, I don’t think this was a copy on any end.
Does Windows Phone 8 even have a notification center? No? Oh, right. But it might have. I guess there’s no comparison, then.
Apple’s latest revision to their mobile operating system brings a ton of changes to what was once a familiar and consistent interface. Though many things remain the same, many more have changed. In this latest iteration, Apple uncharacteristically took cues from competing operating systems where it had not before – with enough of Apple’s heart thrown in to make it unique.
Whether or not this proves to be a boon to what was considered by some to be a stale interface is something we’ll have to wait until after the release this fall to find out.
Have you noticed anything else that looks similar to Windows Phone 8 in iOS 7? Let us know in the comments below.