Let's not sugarcoat it: Apple's (AAPL 0.68%) iOS platform is overdue for some aesthetic user-interface improvements. The iPhone maker has mostly maintained the same overall look and feel of its most important software platform since 2007. In the meantime, heavyweight rivals Google and Microsoft have come a long way in terms of interface design.
With Scott Forstall's ouster late last year, design enthusiasts may finally get their calls answered with a new interface aesthetic driven largely by Jonathan Ive's tastes, which is expected to take place with iOS 7 this year.
Just a couple weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal reported that the reorganization is indeed increasing collaboration among different departments, which was the stated goal of the shake-up in the first place. As head of human interface, Ive now attends meetings related to the design direction of Apple's software.
Ive has reportedly been trying to implement a more "flat design" that would be more modern and minimalist, two characteristics that both Android and Windows Phone now boast. At the time, sources were expecting the updates to be relatively conservative.
However, a handful of well-connected Apple followers is now hearing that iOS 7 is behind schedule, in part due to more dramatic changes to the interface. Daring Fireball's John Gruber believes a "systemwide UI overhaul" is in the works. In characteristically secret fashion, engineers using the new version are required to use polarizing privacy filters on their devices in public, so mere mortals can't steal any sneak peeks.
Software engineers from Apple's OS X team have even reportedly been diverted away from OS X 10.9 in order to pitch in on iOS. This wouldn't be the first time that the Mac maker has focused more on being an iPhone maker; in 2007 it delayed the release of OS X 10.5 Leopard to redeploy talent on the iPhone as the device was preparing for launch.
At the time, the Mac was still generating 41% of trailing-12-month sales, so the company got some flak for the decision. The iPhone is now 52% of TTM sales, while the Mac is just 13%, so don't expect investors to get upset that Apple is focusing resources on the big moneymaker, especially at a time of escalating competition.