First, consider these three (of many) iOS perspectives.
I see iOS 7 as a blank canvas — an ‘un-design’ if you will.
One could argue that by making the user interface behave as if it is backlit, Apple is treating iOS 7 as a more integral part of the device itself.
This big of an opportunity doesn’t come often — we’re lucky to see one every 3–5 years.
iOS 7 is a UI built around lightness. At the most, at its heaviest, it’s a UI of plate glass moving and sliding, zooming and panning. At its lightest, it’s a UI of nothing, invisible, recognizable to us now only because it’s so different from what came before it. I’ve heard it called “opinionated.” I’d agree. That opinion is that the stock UI should be a not-UI. The discussion shouldn’t be about how it looks, because when iOS is doing its job, it doesn’t look. The discussion should be about how it works.
The best developers will see iOS as an operational model, not a visual one. Imagine a Tapbots app that, instead of removing the cute “I’m a twitter robot in your phone!” aesthetic, doubles down on it. Zooming metal plates, ratcheting gears not shadowed from without but appearing from within the device, only now it isn’t a robot-esque layer over the stock controls, the UI becomes the character that the developer envisions—even more so than it has ever done before.
Ive’s new design doesn’t necessarily exile skeuomorphism, it forces its proponents to go all in. Picture a compass app like the old one, only now when you tap the icon, you zoom down onto an object within the device. iOS merely serves it up to you. What is banished from the new UI is half-assed skeuomorphism: tinfoil-thin, wood paneled wrappers over menus and buttons that slide just the way a default list would.
iOS 7 is not so much a blank canvas as it is an empty space waiting to be filled. The only thing the new design language says you can’t do is make UI’s the way developers have been making them for the last six years.