June 7, 2013 at 5:30 PM ET
Rumors of a flatter, more minimalist design for the next version of iOS (and possibly OS X) appear to be confirmed, at least if the decorations put up in San Francisco by Apple are any indication. Banners hung for Monday's Worldwide Developers Conference, snapped by 9to5Mac tipsters, suggest that Apple's interfaces are going on a diet.
The new direction being taken with Apple's aging operating systems is said to be the brainchild of Jony Ive, the company's famed industrial designer responsible for their most eye-catching products.
"Jony has done a remarkable job leading our hardware design," Apple CEO Tim Cook told Bloomberg Businessweek in a recent interview, "So let’s also have Jony responsible for the software and the look and feel of the software."
At the time, many thought that Cook was referring to iOS only, but now the presence of a redesigned "X" implies that Apple's desktop OS may also be getting the Ive touch. (The "X" logo has not been tweaked much since OS X 10.5, after which the company relied mostly on big-cat imagery.)
Ive's style is reportedly very different from the previous mobile software chief, Scott Forstall, who left the company abruptly in early 2012. Gone, rumor has it, is the "app imitates life" look, in which the calendar looks like a leather planner and your notepad app is a yellow legal pad with a handwriting font.
The new UI will supposedly be "flat," meaning icons and apps will eschew fake materials, chrome-like sheens and 3-D shadows, opting instead for thin-lined, high-contrast designs and solid colors.
The "7" and "X" on the WWDC banners use the typeface Apple has used for years throughout its product line: Helvetica Neue, an updated version of the iconic Helvetica. But what's changed is the font's "weight" — letters in Helvetica may have many degrees of thickness, from ultra bold to ultra light, and the latter is what we have here.
Ultra light fonts generally don't look so hot on low-resolution displays for technical reasons, but as Apple's product line shifts to "Retina" screens — with nearly indistinguishable pixels — a delicate font like Helvetica Ultra Neue can be made to shine.
Apple isn't the first to make this choice, of course: Microsoft led the way with its stark, high-contrast Zune interface, which found its way into the Windows Phone. And Google commissioned an entirely new, minimalist sans-serif font, Roboto, specifically for use on Android phones.
Whatever the changes are, we'll find out Monday when WWDC gets underway. Visit nbcnews.com/tech for our extensive coverage, starting at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.