This is all about style over substance, form over factor. The evolution of the smartphone has led to some incredibly well designed apps being brought to the small screen, with many of the early, skeuomorphic native interfaces being replaced with beautiful, custom-made creations.
Gone are the days of wood-effect shelving unit-style graphics full of switches and dials for reading and camera apps. These have widely been replaced by a new generation of apps that feature minimalist designs, indicative of an increasing trend towards gesture-based interfaces.
Here we take a look at five of the best, almost completely disregarding what these apps actually do and focussing instead on how good they look while they do it.
Start is an alarm and stopwatch app that centres on a brilliant dial interface that simplifies the processes of setting a timer. The rolling wheel interface of the native iOS alarm app can be a little fiddly and the innovative design seen in Start is refreshing in comparison.
With a cool, multi-toned background and choice of alarm tones, Start is a beautiful app that looks fantastic on high-quality smartphone displays. Available for iOS.
Feedly is a news reader which pulls articles in from a wide variety of sources around the web. Trailblazer Flipboard can be credited with bringing great design to this genre of app, with several others following since. Feedly is amongst the best.
Subject categories can be opened by swiping in from the edge of the display and articles browsed with up and down gestures. A simple, white background ensures that the large images are pushed to the fore and creates a great platform for showing off your favourite content. Available for iOS and Android.
On to the world of gaming, and the simplicity of many free iPhone games has opened up a new area for designers to play with. Letterpress takes what is now becoming a familiar minimalist design with a white background, having the effect of pushing everything else to the front.
The game is based upon a grid of large chunky letters that can be dragged across the screen, with each forming a small, 3D tile as it is moved. Whilst mostly monochrome, there are also splashes of colour to the default theme and a selection of others available as in-app purchases. Available for iOS and Android.
The second news reader app to make this list, Prismatic offers an even better reading experience than the first. Employing a similar gesture-based interface to Feedly, Prismatic presents stories in a news feed with menus that can be pulled in from the edges of the display.
Prismatic streaks ahead of its competitors in the way that a story or article is formatted in an easy to read manner when selected. The app trims away most of the images and concentrates on plain text on a white background, which looks fantastic and is very easy to digest. Available for iOS.
Taking the brilliant grid-based interface seen on apps like Flipboard, App Flow offers a way of looking for new apps that is far friendlier than Apple’s App Store experience. Based around a social networking format, users create lists of apps that can then be followed by others.
Regardless of the excellent service offered, its design and interface are outstanding. Lists are grouped together on the homescreen in a grid of bold, bright images on a white background, all of which can be scrolled through, swiped and tapped to bring up more information.
Menus stretch out to show larger images when pulled with a finger swipe, and information from the App Store is presented in a minimalist form that is easy to read. App Flow has a brilliantly designed UI that looks fantastic and is very easy to use. Available for iOS.