Blog Post: What Does ‘Outdated’ Mean?

When iOS 7 was first announced, there were those that both applauded and jeered at the new design (I love how there’s no in between anymore). Headlines were written referring to what Apple did wrong with the newest version.Posts were written by designers telling us how they would have done things.

The naysayers were loudest online at first, but that has faded into the background only to be replaced by other concerning articles.

Instead of tearing apart the operating system, designers have now set their sights on redesigning popular apps to a more updated look. As the articles kept coming, I noticed text like this example from Gizmodo:

iOS 7 is putting every current iPhone app on notice. The visual changes to iOS 7′s core functionality is so dramatic that it will make every other app look outdated. Like stayed out in the baking Sun in the middle of Summer for three weeks old. Your eyes won’t be able to look at it.

In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with taking a UI and putting a fresh coat of paint on it. The changes can be superficial or paired with new UX, but it helps re-engage users and excite them. What I don’t understand is how this is mandated from a new iOS.

It would be easy to swim with the stream and talk about how existing apps look outdated, but I don’t know how to define that. The apps that were not native to Apple stood out when I first downloaded iOS 7, but not because they were “outdated”. They just stayed the same while others changed.

Having spent a few years in advertising, I understand the need to update an icon or logo. There are many reasons for encouraging clients to do so, but there are also reasons to stand pat. Many of the apps I have seen mentioned have recently updated, so are they supposed to do so again or be scorned by users?

I don’t think that’s the case.

So when you see a design described by someone as “outdated”, ask how that is determined. There are instances where a design can seem a bit old, but I would argue it is the case far fewer than others think.

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