As much as good design is about “taking things away”, it can also be about adding things in. To me, this is what iOS 17 and before it iOS 15 and 16 embody most.

Apple Design has not needed a “big redesign” to keep iOS looking and feeling modern. It feels to me like it’s been more a story of enrichment and refinement.

The vibrancies of color, the arrangements of typography. Spacing, shadows, sizes, and pairings. Year by year, the new version of iOS has debuted new tricks, new solutions to old problems.

This week, I’ll share with you the details that caught my eye in the design of iOS 17. Seventeen is a big number and designs were made to match.

I hope you find something here that you can mix into your own design work. Thank you for reading UI Designer Weekly. —S

This issue continues my WWDC23 coverage and discusses iOS. In upcoming weeks, we'll look at the other platforms. Here's the schedule:

June 30th: macOS
July 7th: iPadOS
July 14th: watchOS
July 21st: tvOS

New Standards

BYOP: Bring Your Own Paint

Contact Posters on iOS 17 extend the use of the easy font choices, color palettes, and photo styles that people might be familiar with if they've customized their Lock Screen. I'm struck by how Apple Design has been able to expand this set of different pieces people can use while keeping it looking like Apple. This might be a sign that designs throughout our apps should have customization built-in by default. If the system itself allows it in more places, our designs within apps can find ways to join the fun.

BYOT: Bring Your Own Theme

I love this screenshot of Check In, a new feature on iOS 17, for its bountiful usage of yellow. By using yellow throughout, as opposed to having a Check In icon be the only spot of color for example, the entire element says Check In and associates itself with the app. I think this is a great reminder that we can look for places within our own designs to bring color up and out. We can start with concepts that have colors associated with them today, like success for green and warning for yellow, and go beyond to concepts that might be specific to our own designs, like scheduled or processing.

BYOQ: Bring Your Own Quiet

Messages on iOS 17 had a small detail that stuck out to me in the highlight of the emoji icon in the toolbar for picking an iMessage app. The highlight is so calm, so quiet, a gray. I like it a lot and it feels like a choice that allows the toolbar to stay out of competing with the content below. iOS 17 felt quieter and vibrant, spaced out and light.

BYOC: Bring Your Own Color

Continuing that feeling of space and light is Journal, new to iOS 17. It's fascinating seeing how Apple would design a journal and immediately we see a fluency in design with various types of things. To me, one of the strengths of Apple software and design is how good it is at representing different things together. Here, we see a photo, a podcast, a Maps location, and more all grouped together beautifully into an element showing your day. There isn't much fanfare telling us this thing is different from that thing, because we can just tell by looking. But there's still a bravery, confidence, and grace to how this is done.

BYOF: Bring Your Own Functionality

Talking about representing different "things" together, we can't miss talking about StandBy, also new to iOS 17. The design of StandBy is stunning to me in the way that it reuses the design of Widgets and allows many other design elements to breathe. The time is represented in large, bold type. Colors adapt to let you sleep by dimming to polite reds. Swipes up and down on either side allow you to move through your StandBy widgets (like you would with Widget Stacks on the Home Screen). This is that fluency again and, powered by the design decision to allow the iPhone to go into a Dark Mode-only, landscape-only bedside mode, allows these designs to go further.

BYOS: Bring Your Own Skeuomorphism

I love this clock shown in StandBy on iOS 17. It looks like SF Expanded, with the familiar clock hands but with the classic dial. Seeing the Apple Design language express the form of a classic clock like this inspires me to look for new forms of skeuomorphism and ties to the things people are most familiar with in life. This is a great reminder to think about what our designs do at a higher level and think about whether there's something out there we can bring in to make things easier or more enjoyable for people.