Apple Designing a 3D iOS Interface with Dynamic Shadows
After years of a consistently-similar interface introduced in each iOS update, Apple designers are working on the next evolution of its user interface. What’s in store could potentially be real-time 3D coupled with shadows made realistic by the iPhone’s built-in sensors. This could be a stunning transition that is seemingly a natural next step.
Perhaps the most-siginificant feature to come with the addition of a 3D interface is its potential to add functionality and simplicity. Bringing upon itself not only a distinct new look but also an ability to display more information, including on the sides of icons and menu buttons. What if every app icon was rendered in 3D based on a shape and texture of the developer’s styling? This could open the door wide open for a more unique home screen.
Dynamic shadows further blend together the real world with the virtual, a small change that could go a long way in striking realism. Couple that with how Apple is supposedly planning to take advantage of the ambient light sensor to control shadows based on the amount of light hitting the display, and we would guess that they would at least experiment with using the gyroscope/accelerometer to control direction as well for an idea of how naturalistic this could be.
Apple has demonstrated interface use of sensors with the level of attention of detail that they have added to the volume slider in iOS 6, a brushed metal that can refract light.
Further contributing to the likelihood of this being a standout of iOS 7/8 is a patent Apple had filed in January describing a 3D graphic user interface.
According to a conversation BuzzFeed‘s Benjamin Jackson had with an Apple employee at WWDC,
One Apple employee (who I can’t name as the company does not allow employees to speak on the record without approval from media relations) said that in the future, your phone will show drop shadows based on the actual position of the light in the room, as detected by the phone’s ambient sensor — and everything in the UI will be rendered in 3D on the fly.