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September 19

Thoughts On iOS 7

Alex Patin, Thoughts on iOS7

When I first picked up an iPhone, Apple just released the iPhone 4S, alongside with iOS 5. I spent the previous year and a half or so using a crumbling, scratched, dated Blackberry Curve 8330. When the iPhone finally came in the mail, I was so incredibly excited. My dad and I got our new phones activated and I started browsing the web, downloading apps, and messing around with the brand new Siri.

That was two years ago, and for me, iOS has been getting stale. A few months ago I picked up a Nexus 7. It was my first Android device – I bought it because I knew it was manufactured by Asus, a quality computer manufacturer, and Google had just released the new Jelly Bean update. I fell in love with pretty much everything about the Nexus and Android as an OS. It’s open. I can install any app I want to outside of Google’s ecosystem. Jelly Bean has a modern and pretty fresh UI, with a nice blend of ‘flat’ and ‘skuemorphic’ design. Jelly Bean was so impressive to me, I have even been considering an Android based phone as my next device. But for now, I’m using a 4S with iOS 7, and it’s a refreshing take on Apple’s previous interface.

I wasn’t really wanting to get a second iOS device until yesterday when iOS 7 was released – now I’m truly torn between to operating systems – but that is beyond the point. iOS7 takes some leaps in the interface that I didn’t expect it to. iOS 7 isn’t revolutionary. It doesn’t break any grounds or do anything innovative, but by and large it’s a necessary coat of paint, and it may be just enough to get my to stick around for a while longer.

What I love

ios-7-lock-screeniOS7 is filled with really cool animations everywhere. Turning on the screen and unlocking the iPhone just feels natural. Instead of a sliding lock mechanism, you now slide the entire screen over, which feels like an organic shift in the interface, switching to the passcode screen if you have it enabled. The passcode keypad itself looks beautiful, as it blurs the background image behind it and changes the colors and highlights around the icons and buttons.

iOS7 comes with a brand new camera app. It’s a pretty drastic shift in the camera’s functionality – it feels a bit more like a DSLR than a mobile phone camera. Why you ask? Apple has decided to do away with the old iOS6 aperture shutting animation, and now flashes black quickly, just as a real camera’s viewfinder does. I’ve also noticed that the camera seems to shoot much faster than before. I could be wrong, but hey, perception is reality.

Finally, the one thing I’ve been waiting for is finally here: control center.

iOS 7 Control CenterControl center is what iOS has been missing for ages. I jailbroke my iPhone probably about a year prior to this writing. The best part about jailbreaking was a tool I installed called SBSettings. What SB Settings and Control center do is quickly turn on or off different controls and apps. This is exactly what Apple knew users needed. Android has a control center that can be swiped from the corner of the screen, and has had one for quite some time. In iOS7, swiping upwards from the bottom of the screen will bring up the control center, which gives you options to turn on or off airplane mode, Wifi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb mode, and rotation lock. You can also quickly adjust brightness, phone volume, a new built in flashlight, timer, calculator, and camera. Again – this has been missing for a long time, and I’m very happy it’s in.

That being said, SB Settings had a way to quickly turn off location services. I turn on and off location services probably every other day. It’s not something I use often, as I don’t typically need to use a GPS, and location services for everything else is just a waste of battery to me. I literally hate having to go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > On or Off. Too many steps for something so simple. If location services made it into control center, I’d be ecstatic.

What I hate

When it comes to this version of iOS, I’m disappointed that there are a lot of bad decisions or bothersome bugs cluttered everywhere. Although I mentioned how I love the animations and how refreshing they are, they just take too long. Like way too long. Unlocking my phone and watching my apps fall into place is nice…a couple times. Then it gets old. Slow. Tedious. Like a chore.

In previous iterations of iOS, multitasking was so so. Something I often did though was quickly close out of all of my running apps by holding down on an app that is running, letting the red X’s pop up, and proceeding to tap the same spot rapidly, closing out all of my apps within a few seconds. Multitasking itself is a great change now and feels more seamless, but now it takes me forever to close out of every app I have running. I have to swipe up to get rid of it (which doesn’t bother me). What I can’t stand is that I have to watch the animation. Again. And again. And again. And again.

Watching these animations take forever again seems tedious and more like a chore than anything else. I want a fast and responsive system. iOS has always been quick to give visual feedback to users who interact with the screen, but now that users are forced to watch these slow animations, feedback is sometimes nonexistent. Nothing happens, all because someone wanted the easing to be a tad slower.

ios-7-messagesiOS 7 is missing buttons almost entirely. In very few places to buttons still exists, making iOS 7 seem far less intuitive than previous iterations. I think iOS 7 is really aimed more for people who are experienced and familiar with iOS, smartphones, and technology in general, and so I can see why they’re okay with pretty much completely doing away with buttons. However, my mother does not use technology like I do. I showed her my updated phone this morning, and while she thought it looked nice, she was completely thrown off by the interface.

An experienced iPhone user was thrown off by the interface. I’m sorry, but something like that is just as stupid as Microsoft leaving out the Start button in Windows 8. There are no ‘back buttons’ in any of the stock iOS apps anymore, and is just a word now, which indicates nothing to a user, and aside from color, really has zero hierarchy or clear intention of what that label even does.

Finally, I hate my home screen. I hate my home screen for a multitude of reasons, but the biggest reason is the icons. We’ve heard the internet outcries, seen the Dribbble shots, and laughed at the one of the greatest Apple parody blogs ever. The internet’s consensus seems to be this: the icons blow. I don’t care what anyone says. They’re really tacky looking, look cheap, cheesy, and terrible over my background. Sure, they go nice with Apple’s stock backgrounds, but I really don’t care about those.

Conclusion

I could continue to talk about more things I like or don’t like, but for the sake of making this a readable post, I’ll conclude with this. iOS 7 is enough of a refresh to keep me hooked onto Apple devices for at least another few weeks. My contract is almost up, and I’m ready for a new phone. I will probably wait a while longer and see if Apple fixes some of the issues with iOS 7. If not, it’s not the end of the world, as Apple still has the biggest and best ecosystem when it comes to apps, and thats what really matters. Other mobile OSs and hardware specs of other phones may be superior, but I care about the apps I use, and unless Android or Windows Phone can get developers like iOS can, I’ll probably be sticking with Apple for another couple of years.

P.S. Yes, the girl in the background is my girlfriend 😉

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