Saturday, 21 September 2013

Another #iOS7 review

A couple of days ago, I updated my iPhone 4S to the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS7.  Having spent the intervening hours trying to get used to the changes Apple has made, I am going to put down my opinions on iOS7 here - in what is, I am sure, the Blog post for which the world has been waiting...

Firstly, some background.  iOS7 is a much bigger change than any of the previous updates to the iOS platform have been.  When I updated from iOS4 to iOS5, and then again from iOS5 to iOS6, the new versions didn't take much 'getting used to' - they were, essentially, the same system.  Each new update came with a few minor tweaks, a couple of added features (notably voice-command app Siri, which first appeared with iOS5, and the controversial move away from Google Maps in iOS6), but the overall look and feel of iOS remained fairly constant across the updates.  With iOS7, Apple have redesigned large amounts of the way their mobile devices work, and the operating system has a whole new look.

Still curious?  Here is what TechCrunch said about iOS7's new look:
The look is bound to be controversial; Apple has opted for bright, bold colors with more clean lines and far fewer textures, shadows and gradients. There is still some depth to the OS, however, with transparency effects giving a sense of background and foreground elements (the dock row is an opaque rectangle through which your home screen wallpaper is visible, for instance).
Apple’s visual overhaul received a lot of knee-jerk criticism when it was revealed at WWDC earlier this year, but in practice, the visual changes are actually quite pleasant, and grow on a user with time. Looking back now, iOS 6 feels dated, despite the fact that when I first started using iOS 7 I felt it was inferior in terms of look and feel to the older OS. Apple’s new look with iOS 7 takes acclimating, but on the whole, it’s an improvement.
So what do I think of iOS7?  Well, I'll tell you; are you sitting comfortably...?

Things I like

The good stuff...

Having to rely on a third party app for a torch on your phone has always been a weakness of the iPhone - not any more, as Apple have finally caught up with the Android operating system which have offered this for a while.  Thank goodness for that!

Control Centre
I like the Control Centre feature - swipe up on your phone's screen for instant access to basic functions, such as changing the screen brightness, or the volume of any music playing, without having to exit your main app.  Control Centre also lets you switch on/off Aeroplane Mode, BlueTooth and Do Not Disturb Mode without having to go into Settings first, and gives you access to a the torch, the calculator and the camera without having to open them from the Home Screen.

New signal indicators
Instead of the 'bars' of varying heights, from short to tall, to show how strong your mobile phone signal is (which I always thought looked slightly like the graphs which primary school children make to show how many kids in their class have brown eyes, how many have blues eyes, and how many have blood red eyes like the devil), iOS7 has little circles.  The more circles are filled (instead of empty), the better your signal.  I actually think they're rather stylish.

New Volume control - very nice.
New Volume control design
The little graphic displayed on the screen when you adjust the volume of the phone using the buttons on the left hand side has been change - I think - for the better.

3D tabs in Safari
The new 3D tabs in Apple's mobile web browser Safari look very cool, and are a nice update.

Pages in folders
Folders of apps on your Home Screen are now able to contain more than one page of apps - which, frankly, is a long overdue and very welcome improvement.

Things I don't like, but can probably learn to live with

There are some pretty minor, niggly little things in this section, but they're worth mentioning...

Buttons that aren't buttons any more
This is part of that whole 'clean, simple lines' thing that people seem to love so much - but in my opinion, it just confuses the interface.  In iOS7, the buttons with which you are familiar are still there, but they don't look like buttons any more - they are just text.  You just tap on the word, and hope that something will happen.  This doesn't actually affect the functionality of the phone, of course, and I'm sure I will get used to that, in time - but to me, it all looks a bit 'Windows'.  (If you know what I mean?)

Tweetbot and BBC Sport are lagging
behind the rest, with 'old style' icons.
Flat icons
It has been widely publicised that, in iOS7, Apple have 'flattened' their icons, and moved away from the glossy 'glass' look that has been their signature look since the first iPhone release.  Now, I've nothing against the flat icons themselves - but not every app that I use has updated its icon to the new style, so I now have an alarming lack of homogeneity in app icon design on my Home Screen, and for someone like me that is quite disturbing.

Folder backgrounds
I mentioned earlier how pleased I was to see that you can now have more than one page of apps within a folder - but one change of which I am not so fond is to the colour of folder background...  At first, I thought that the folder backgrounds had been changed to an unpleasant shade of beige, but now it appears that the background takes it colour somehow from the colour palette of your Home Screen wallpaper; either way, it leaves you with a clunky 'splodge' of a folder on the screen.

'Zooming' apps on the Home Screen
When you go to your Home Screen (either from the Lock Screen, or when closing an app) your app icons aren't just there any more - they have to 'zoom' in to the Home Screen.  There's nothing especially wrong with that, but it's just another unnecessary complication.

'Fading' Lock Screen
When you press the Lock button (at the top right of your phone), your Lock Screen doesn't just appear any more - it 'fades in' slowly.  And then it 'fades out' again when you press the button a second time to turn the screen off again.  This only takes a fraction of a second, and isn't a huge inconvenience at all - but how, exactly, is that an improvement on the previous method?  Answer: it isn't.

Things I really can't stand

These are the changes to iOS which, not only don't improve, they actively make it worse...

iOS6 (left) is personal - iOS7 (right) is bland and generic.
Moving Wallpaper
When you're looking at your Lock Screen, the Wallpaper background will 'move around' if you tilt or move the phone.  This is intensely irritating - so much so that one day after updating to iOS7, I changed my old Wallpaper (a photo of a blazing fire in my back garden, of which I am rather proud, and which has been my phone Wallpaper for almost two years) to a rather dull plain white background so that the moving wouldn't show up.  It feels like my phone has lost its identity.

Moving app icons
Similar to the above issue - on your Home Screen, the app icons themselves now move ever-so-slightly from side-to-side if you change the angle at which you're holding the phone.  Even changing the Wallpaper hasn't fixed this, and I can't find any way to switch it off in Settings - so it would appear that I am stuck with this, even though every time I see it I want to scream.

Calendar redesign
The new interface for mobile iCal is an absolute trainwreck.  It is hard to navigate, and adding events to the calendar has been made needlessly clunky and complex.  I have a lot of online calendars to manage, and I use my phone all the time to check my availability and keep my schedules up-to-date.  This task has just been made a lot more difficult.  The only good thing about the new version of Calendar is its new 'flat' icon, which I actually quite like.

So there we have it...  There are some very good points in iOS7, and there are a few things which either came as a bit of a shock, or which I initially haven't liked, but only because I haven't fully got used to them yet - unfortunately, though, there are also some things which I really hate, and to which I can't see myself becoming accustomed any time soon.


Nexus Droid said...

Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
thank you :)

The Geeks said...

hi..Im college student, thanks for sharing :)

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