iOS7 Review: Will this new mobile operating system be up to your taste?

As we wait to receive the latest iPhones that Apple announced early this month, we have opted to start off with reviewing the all new Operating System that will also be running on the upcoming iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. The good news is that its backward compatible and we manged to get it up and running on the iPad mini and iPhone 5. Apple calls  i0S7 the biggest change it has ever made since it announced the first iPhone nearly seven years ago. This new software will fundamentally change the way you use your iPhone. Apple’s previous OS has been accused of being boring and stale and not keeping up with the times, iOS 7 is its response.

The new OS starts with it’s overall look which is completely different from what Apple has ever made. Its not necessarily unrecognizable but it’s totally new — different font weights , white backgrounds and the niffy parallax wallpaper, different texts all add basically something different in the over whole design.

Good bye skeuomorphism

There is nothing different about  the contact app or calender other than different fonts and simpler backgrounds. Its a much cleaner and simpler look but in some ways not as intuitive as iOS used to be. There used to be skeuomorphism everywhere am glad that is now in Apple’s past design archives,  but i think Apple threw out the baby with the bath water in some extent; so many visual enhancements are gone with simple buttons now replaced by words that you were just supposed to know to tap. Even the back gesture is a hit and miss in some apps. To alleviate all those problems somewhat: Apple replaced these guide posts for feedback. This means whenever you do something on the User Interface, something seems to happen. When you open an app its like the app explodes from its icon from your homescreen and when you close it, it gets sucked back in.

New Gesture trickery

When you swipe to unlock your phone, the passcode doesn’t just appear anymore, it slides in from the sides as if u dragged it over. These animations are helpful in some places but are often slow and always kind of jarring. Seriously , i don’t need to watch my app open, i just want it to open.

Control center

But there is truth to the idea that if you already know how to use a smartphone you will figure out how to use iOS7 quickly — because in most ways the OS here hasn’t actually changed much.  There is only one really new feature that will actually change the  way you use your phone and that’s Control center. It’s basically a transparent windows that sides up from the bottom of the screen and sits on top of whatever you doing. It finally gives iOS users a quick way to change brightness, toggle wifi or launch the camera app from anywhere. It’s kind of a cluttered odd looking collection of icons and sliders but its really useful.

iOS7 ‘s Extra offers

Most of the other “new features” are just tweaks to the way things always were. When you double click the home button you see the multitasking screen, You get an icon and also a screen shot of each app you running. And you can close them easily by swiping the screenshot upwards just like WebOS always was. But the basic multitasking and task switching haven’t changed here. Your apps will be more current as you jump around the UI because apps that are running can finally update in the background in iOS7.  But getting around the OS it’s self hasn’t really changed. Speaking of background updating, just like Android has done for long, apps themselves can now update from the app store without your intervention, as you will just see a blue dot when the app moves to a new version.

 

The app store its self is actually nicer looking as with iTunes, with the Pandora features of iTunes radio and the fact that your purchases now show up in the library without having to actually having to hunt them down from the store, i predict people who had stopped using iTunes will find themselves using it again.

There is a new panel in notifications called today , which shows your appointments along with the weather and even your alarm clock for tomorrow. It is not the most powerful app out there, but i loved not having to open the clock app every night to check my alarm.

Vocal Siri

Siri’s also a lot more useful now–you can pick between the male and female voices, and you can use Siri to do more than just search the web. Just being able to say “Siri turn off wifi” or “Siri when is my dentist appointment?”,  is really awesome. Lets face it despite being launched first , Siri is not as powerful or as contextual as Google Now. And still awkwardly asks too many questions and defaults to web search too often — but its a huge improvement.

There are a lots of little features too which are neat but exactly earth shattering. Facetime audio is nice but only works with other people with compatible devices and its not going to replace my actual phone app, which by the way is nicer looking than before.

Airdrop should be a handy way to share files, music, pictures and notes between iOS devices, but its kind of clunky — people have to be really near you for the phone to find them and they tend to appear and disappear in the list for no reason. Nearly every Apple’s core apps has a new look an new ugly icon and very little new functionality.

Mail has a new swiping gesture that makes triaging your email a bit better which i liked. Reminders and notes are just better looking versions of themselves. The calender is still harder to use than most of the third party options. Safari has been cleaned up and improved a lot with a unified tool bar for web searching and browsing. There is also a really easy roll-deck for switching between tabs and  the chrome at least on the iPhone does a nice job of getting out of the way. If Apple really did one thing well in iOS7 its really just that.– its much flatter much cleaner and much more about the apps themselves which is good or will be better as apps get updates. For now none optimized apps don’t get to use the new cleaner keyboard.

Camera

One exception is the camera app as it is jarring at first; not having the aperture blades close and open every time you take a picture and there is more interface changes than there used to be. But its super easy to change from pictures to videos, to panorama and to Instagram shots. The camera feels faster and surfaces some of the pictures that you had missed before. The new photos apps app is a one fun way to scroll through all your pictures all at once or just one. It automatically sorts all your photos and makes finding old ones much easier. But mostly its also just awesome looking.

 

Apple’s big bet with iOS7 is that you already know how to use a smartphone– you instinctively reach to the top left corner to go back and you know how to swipe from left to right to unlock your phone. Once you have figured that all out, it works basically the same as it has always done and its definitely cleaner and nicer but iOS doesn’t feel obvious any more.

Android’s strengths over iOS

iOS has always been a good operating system but iOS7 isn’t some huge change or complete rethinking of how we use our smartphones. Its really just a coat of paint. iOS still has its ecosystem which is completely unrivaled. But at this point Android has a much richer system which lets you move between apps and do much more than tap iOS7’s inscrutable icons and upload things to flicker. Android also has a better richer notification system, which on iOS is things that pop on top of what you are doing and have to be dismissed individually.

But those are existing problems that most iOS users are happy to live with. iOS7  is a very good operating system just as iOS has been since 2007 for now its just a bunch of mostly useful tweaks like background updating. There are lots of new API and tools for developers to make useful and consistent apps.

 

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