Is iOS 7 a Windows Phone knockoff?

Windows Phone users may experience deja vu when they look at iOS 7, because many of the design elements seem cribbed from Windows Phone. Is it pure coincidence, or is Apple getting its inspiration straight from Microsoft?

There are plenty of similarities between iOS 7 and Windows Phone, so much so that back in June, Microsoft's WindowsPhone twitter account sent out this tweet:

See iOS7 next to WP8 http://newwp.it/18yukZq. Seems we have some fans in Cupertino. Thanks @23BrownSean!

The reference was to a YouTube video that compared a variety of Windows Phone screens and beta iOS 7 screens side by side. Watch the video and you'll find an eerie resemblance between the interfaces, such as the Lock Screen, the Incoming Call screen, SMS messaging, App Switcher, and many others. Some of the comparisons don't really hold up, such as the Web browser. As a general rule in phones, a browser is a browser, and there's not many design differences among them.

Still, overall the comparison is on target. And the comparison left out the biggest design element iOS 7 has taken from Windows Phone -- iOS's overall flat look.

Apple did nothing wrong here. Design is an iterative process, with companies frequently using design elements from their competitors. Steve Jobs, of course, frequently complained that Microsoft and Google had stolen design elements from him. But that was just Steve Jobs being Steve Jobs.

Windows Phone may lag well behind the iPhone when it comes to sales. But Microsoft can at least take heart that some of the world's best designers too inspiration from its mobile operating system.

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