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[fa icon="calendar"] 20-Jul-2013 14:57:00 / by Entropy Gang

Entropy Gang

Lost amidst all the hoopla over iOS 7's new design changes, borderless buttons, and background updates is perhaps one of the more exciting opportunities staring iOS 7 Beta users directly in the face - the new 'live' app icon as demonstrated by the latest native Clock app. 

As the Beta-user community already knows, the fully animated Clock app icon shows intricate movement - all the way down to the second hand.

Sure we've been used to the Calendar app displaying the correct date on its icon for years, but the ability to fully animate and update an app's desktop icon is a potentially game-changing feature that has (somehow) flown under the radar since the release of the new Beta OS over a month ago. 

While Apple has yet to release specific information to developers on how to take full advantage of the live icon feature in iOS 7 documentation to date, it's likely just a matter of time.

And once available, the impact can be huge.

Imagine flashing the latest weather information on a weather app icon itself - with users able to discern at a glance the temperature and current conditions without needing to interact with or even launch the app.

Not impressed yet?

How about the latest sports score or news update (limited to a few words of course) all updating automatically on the icon of your favourite news or sports app. Most urgent to-do item from your GTD app perhaps? Latest note from Evernote? Even a photo of your nearest contact or latest Instagram post?

The possibilities are immense... 

While Windows Phone users have had "active tiles" since Windows Phone 7, and Android users are well acquainted with the "widget" paradigm - aside from a clunky Notification Center introduced in iOS 5, iPhone & iPad users have had a fairly static desktop experience thus-far. 

As app developers and designers we now have a tremendous opportunity to add a truly killer feature to our apps - moving well beyond the simple badging of icons that Push Notifications have offered to date.

Unfortunately for the moment we will have to sit on our hands until Apple officiallyreleases a new 'live' icon API for general developer use - but given the success of similar features on Windows Phone and Android platforms, Apple cannot afford to wait too long.

So while the iOS 7 blogosphere continues to vent about design, buttons, and navigation - it's time to start preparing for potentially one of the most important features to hit iOS 7 and indeed iOS for some time. 

After all, in a few months we may all look back and wonder how on earth we missed it...

Entropy Gang

Written by Entropy Gang