The flattened messaging hybrids
When I was writing about the new Messages on iOS 7 and its limitations I started wondering how would the most popular messaging app look with the new flat design. Since the iPhone app Messages hasn't adopted any significant feature from competitors, the end result will be similar to the built-in app we're using now. It's only a lick of paint. When you start accepting that the way you communicate might continue to rely on third party apps on iOS 7, you realise that the current designs are atrocious on an iPhone screen. Not that WhatsApp felt very native on iOS 6 anyway…
A quick search on Dribbble shows some designers thinking about this friction and are coming up with some ideas inspired by the popularity of WhatsApp and the "design language" on iOS 7. I'm really enjoying the interpretations of an app a lot of people love with a new skin. One of my favourites, at the top of the post, is from Matan Mousseri, who envisions a modern WhatsApp dominated by a thick green navigation back.
This reminds me a bit of how past iOS versions showed you had a call on the background while doing something else on the device, so it's kind of familiar. The solid green gives an indication of the app you are using although the new design guidelines seem to favour frosted glass translucency for these interface elements. This would indeed make a very flat and opaque app with plenty of personality.
Bas van der Ploeg's take relies on the standard UI elements, which might be a more realistic version of what will end up happening. Using the default cyan blue doesn't give you a clue of what app you're using and the direct port of the interface ends up being familiar for current users but boring for those looking for more radical changes. From this effort I like the use of user pictures, which Apple doesn't seem to use on contact lists much. He has also envisioned other popular apps using the same conservative conversion on iphoneclub.nl.
A much more radical approach is taken by Marc Roman who imagines a contact list on a grid with bigger profile pictures for the users. I like how the green text blurb appears on top of the avatar indicating there's content to be read, as well as a number next to the name. The translucency on the navigation bar works really well, however, the circle crops with even more blur might be excessive here.
To complete this round of mockups, Daniel Pflug goes for a hybrid solution. Incorporating WhatsApp's green highlights and off white on the button tabs adds more personality while remaining close to the appearance of the rest of the system. When a button is pressed, the colour scheme is inverted, adding more colour to the very white interface. The avatar pictures here are rounded, an element used in others parts of iOS 7 like AirDrop sharing.
All four are very refreshing as an exercise of the redesigns I'm sure we will witness in the next months. Every new and old app will undergo some sort of facelift to blend better with the new style. I wouldn't be too optimistic about WhatsApp in particular, which makes these mockups even more exciting. The Montain View company has been very slow to update its app on iPhones and the interface shows signs of ageing.