Be Tech Ready!!
iOSiPhoneVirtual Reality

VisionOS features that Apple should bring to iOS 18

iOS, the operating system for iPhones, is in dire need of a major overhaul. It’s been pretty much the same since Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone in 2007 (back then it was called iPhone OS), and it’s looked the same since iOS 7. When you’ve sold billions of devices with a user-friendly touchscreen interface, the last thing you want to do is completely change it and make everyone relearn how to use their beloved pocket computers.

The issue with being so cautious is that it’s just plain boring. It also creates room for gadgets that ditch the software we’re used to entirely. Our tastes and style evolve over time, so why shouldn’t the software we spend hours staring at every day also get a makeover? Smartphones have evolved a lot since the iPhone came out, but the operating system it uses hasn’t kept up nearly as well.

There are signs that Apple might be planning some big design changes at Apple Park, especially if you look at iOS 17 and the newer visionOS. This could mean something more exciting, maybe even something similar to Android. We’ve guessed that the Vision Pro might already be influencing the hardware of the iPhone 16. But if Apple really wants to make a splash, an AI-powered iOS 18 should also take design ideas from the headset software.

Also Read: Apple Vision Pro could replace your iPad but there’s one hiccup

A complete redesign for iOS

The last time Apple made a big change to iOS was back in 2013 with iOS 7. This was a new version of the iPhone’s operating system that was completely overseen by Jony Ive after Tim Cook fired the former senior vice president Scott Forstall for messing up the launch of Apple Maps. iOS 7 was significant not only because it introduced concepts like Control Center and a new card-based multitasking system, but also because it had a flat, transparent layered look with an emphasis on typography throughout the interface and Apple’s first-party apps.

iOS 7 was like a breath of fresh air that brought the iPhone’s software up to speed with the sleek hardware designs that Jony Ive’s team was creating. Even though it’s been over a decade, many of its ideas are still around today. The change was pretty controversial, to put it mildly. This was mainly because the move from skeuomorphic buttons and selection dials to a lot of empty white space and the thin Helvetica Neue Ultra Light font made apps more difficult to understand and read compared to earlier versions. Plus, iOS 7’s heavy use of animations and flashy graphics seemed to slow everything down, especially on older iPhones.

Despite those criticisms, iOS 7 was eye-catching and, according to Apple and analysts, was quickly embraced. In the years that followed, Apple would use the annual updates to tone down some of the more dramatic aspects of iOS 7. However, the concept of flatness and the idea of layers of screens and interface elements with varying levels of transparency have remained to this day.

You could say that iOS 7’s fondness for “frosted glass” has carried over to the floating windows of visionOS, which are designed to keep you aware of your surroundings. There’s not much proof yet that Apple will bring some of that visionOS influence to iOS, but it definitely seems like the operating system is ready for a rethink on the level of iOS 7.

Noticeable changes in the user interface

If you take a look at Apple’s current operating systems, like tvOS 17 and iOS 17, you’ll notice hints of a new visual style that’s quite different from what Apple has now, but still feels familiar and engaging. Some of these software elements seem to align with what Apple is doing with visionOS, while others seem completely different.

A prime example is the menu on the iPhone 15 Pro that allows you to customize the Action Button. You find it in the Settings app, but it’s not the usual plain text pages with toggles and wireframe outlines. Instead, it’s a full-screen interface with a physical representation of your phone, letting you scroll through different functions for the button. It’s fresh, fun, and a bit unexpected, but it could hint at where Apple’s designers might want to take iOS in the future. This approach could certainly make iOS settings easier to grasp as the software becomes more complex each year.

Another example is a bit less flashy, but still interesting. When you tap the plus icon in the Messages app, you get a similarly unique menu of iMessage apps and other hidden features. The round icons float on a solid screen and can be scrolled to reveal more traditional pill-shaped iMessage apps and sticker packs, but they definitely catch your eye.

A clear example of how visionOS might influence iOS is the revamped Apple TV app in tvOS 17.2. The new version of the app still has auto-playing videos and big floating posters for shows and movies that you can scroll through, but it also introduces a new floating side menu for moving around different sections and channels of the app.

The menu has rounded edges and is a bit transparent, and it can expand or contract depending on where you tap, kind of like the menus in visionOS. This could mean that Apple sees the Vision Pro and Apple TV as similar, or maybe it’s just the direction the company wants to take all its software in the long run, but it’s definitely a noticeable change.

Also Read: Will Apple Vision Pro work for you if you have glasses or contacts?

visionOS’ predictive nature should come to iOS

Opacity and dynamic menus and interface elements would be the most obvious ways iOS could adopt the new ideas introduced by the Vision Pro, but there are subtler aspects of visionOS that could have an even bigger impact. Apple filled its headset operating system with dynamic animations, mainly to make navigating with your eyes easier to understand. If you see something wiggle or get highlighted, you start to intuitively learn that you’re looking at it and that you can interact with it.

The bar at the bottom of an app window subtly gets bigger when your eyes are on it, hinting that you can pinch it to move the window. If you look at the left or right corner of an app window, a resize window indicator pops up. Even sections of the left-sided menu in many apps come forward when you’re on them.

In the end, with a company as massive as Apple, it’s tough to tell if changes are part of a bigger strategy or just the result of one team of designers and engineers winning out over another. But one thing we can be sure of is that Apple’s design will evolve.

Vishal Kawadkar
About author

With over 8 years of experience in tech journalism, Vishal is someone with an innate passion for exploring and delivering fresh takes. Embracing curiosity and innovation, he strives to provide an informed and unique outlook on the ever-evolving world of technology.