From an [accessibility] perspective, what the new Button Shapes do is restore a sense of explicitness to iOS 7′s interface. These types of visual cues are so important to many visually impaired users, myself included.
I’m glad Apple’s improving iOS 7’s visual usability by adding yet another toggle, but the need for Button Shapes, Bold Text, Increase Contrast, On/Off Labels, and Reduce Motion shows significant flaws in iOS 7’s design. (At least the ultra-thin fonts in beta 1 didn’t ship.)
It’s easy to design something attractive that’s not very usable, and it’s easy to design something usable that’s unattractive. The challenge is striking a balance, and iOS 7 made too many usability sacrifices to achieve attractiveness.1
Apple knows this, so it’ll be interesting to see how it’s revised next year. If iOS 8 can’t remove any of these options, it’s a design failure.
This isn’t just a Jony Ive problem: Apple has occasionally made poor usability choices to serve visual design for years, long before Ive was in charge. Even Steve Jobs made plenty of UI mistakes that shipped. Fortunately, most of Apple’s designs are good, but iOS 7 wasn’t the first Apple software release to include some bad UI decisions. ↩︎