Simplify, Perfect, Delight: Apple Rolls Out New Mavericks and iOS 7 Betas

Published on July 9, 2013
by John Paczkowski

Apple’s two-week release for the betas of its forthcoming operating systems, iOS 7 and Mavericks, continues apace, with two new previews shipped to developers this week — iOS 7 Beta 3 and OS X 10.9 Mavericks Developer Preview 3.

Both include the minor bug fixes and performance tweaks typical of such early builds, with one notable exception. The iOS 7 Beta 3 includes a pretty significant change in system font. It has traded the lightweight, wispy Helvetica Neue Light for the heavier Helvetica Neue.

That’s hardly an inconsequential change, though I know it seems otherwise. Click to enlarge the animated GIF at right, and you’ll see that the differences between the two fonts are substantial. Helvetica Neue is much easier to read than Helvetica Neue Light and, as some developers argue, it brings some much-needed clarity and legibility to the next generation of Apple’s mobile OS. It’s also hard evidence that iOS 7, in its current state, is very much a work in progress — something sources close to its development have repeatedly stressed.

As I’ve written before, Apple’s challenge with iOS 7 is to overhaul the look and feel of the OS while retaining the intuitiveness that has made it so popular. And that’s no easy task, particularly now, with the company taking a more unified approach to software and hardware design. Those who pay attention to Apple’s beta process are bound to see some trial and error as SVP of Design Jony Ive and team strive to overhaul iOS, deliver on Apple’s core promise of usability and superior experience, and honor the company’s “Simplify, Perfect, Delight” pledge.

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