How iOS 7's focus on design helped Roambi's 5-year-old app
By now you know whether you like iOS 7's new design or not. The dramatic re-thinking of Apple's mobile platform replaced much of the skeuomorphism (interfaces meant to look like their real-world counterparts, like a legal pad or desk calendar) with an iridescent, text-based design. Some people like it. Others don't.
Regardless of your feelings towards the operating system, it's clear that such a dramatic change has effectively forced app developers to redesign their software with the new design in mind. Apps that had started to look a bit dated have been updated with new, modern interfaces. That's where Roambi, a data visualization startup, comes in.
Roambi's iPhone app launched alongside the App Store in 2008. Its iPad app was released alongside the original iPad. The company has grown as Apple's grown and done its damnedest to support every software or hardware update Apple has released.
"Every update that's happened in the six years since the first iPhone has been feature-oriented. There's a new API, there's a new thing that allows you to do this, and those are things that we always took advantage of in every single iteration of our app," says Roambi product head Quinton Alsbury. "This one is all about the design."
Roambi's response to iOS 7 looks like you might expect. Its black background has been replaced with a white one. Buttons have been replaced by neon pink text. The application is more responsive than before, and Roambi has introduced a new function that allows users to create a mishmash of texts and graphs that people have been clamoring after for years. Little else has changed about the app's features -- this is, again, a design-focused release.
When you're a startup, and you create a product, and it goes out and is successful, and you're running around trying to add features that customers are asking for, you have very little time to stop and architect everything to be perfect. What a design process like this one allowed us to do was step back a little bit and look at what we had been building over the last five years and tie it together much better than we had before.Apple didn't release yet another software update that changes what iOS does, like it did when it released the App Store in 2008 or added multitasking capabilities in 2010. It just tried to make iOS easier to use and more cohesive than it was before.
Today's update isn't about making Roambi's app do something else. It's about designing the app so that it can do everything it's been doing for the last five years better. The app is much like iOS 7 in that regard.