Apple iOS 7 & iPhone 5S Review - Another Perspective
Kudos to Ben Groulx for his fantastic review of Apple iOS 7. I'd like to take this opportunity to offer my perspective on the operating system after having used it for a couple weeks. And I'll even throw in some tidbits about the iPhone 5S.
Overall my impressions of iOS 7 are unfavorable. Not because I am opposed to change, but because I find myself getting less done or completing tasks slower when using iOS 7. I also have concerns about the accessibility of the interface and the performance on any non-5S device. Let's have a look at a couple of these issues.
iOS 7 Performance
When the official build was released to the public, I installed it on my iPhone 4S. I did not have any problems finding my way around or using the device. I did notice performance degradation of the interface. Animations were not smooth, the UI often got 'stuck' and lagged for periods of time. There is also a clear increase in startup and shutdown times. While I am not an Android user, I love the smoothness and snappy response of the Galaxy S4. It's even worse on the iPhone 4 due to it's lacking processor power. I hope Apple can address this issue and improve the performance in coming updates.
64bit? So What?
One of Apple's big selling points of the iPhone 5S was the 64bit hardware and OS. More bits must equal more power and speed right? No, not really. The purpose of a 64bit operating system is to move beyond the 4GB RAM restriction (don't confuse the 1GB RAM with the onboard storage which ranges from 16GB to 64GB). Since the 5S only uses 1GB of RAM, using a 64bit OS with this hardware is pointless. This whole 64bit thing is nothing more than a sales gimmick.
My mother was unfortunate enough to have installed iOS 7 on her iPhone. She's a smart cookie and is in no way tech illiterate, but she has a lot of difficulties using iOS 7. The flat icons used in apps like Chrome are very light and thin. She had difficulty making out what they were and the purpose of them. This problem is made worse by the Retina Display. The lines are so thin and the icons so small, this will continue to be an issue for those with sight problems. Apple also decided to move frequently used icons to new locations and (I can't image why) made them 50% smaller. A button 1/8 inch wide doesn't seem like an intelligent decision (see Chrome tabs Close button).
Anyone who is using iOS 7 on the 4S or below can testify to this one. The battery on these devices is simply inadequate to run this OS. Battery life can be improved by making a few changes to your settings.
- Dim the brightness setting
- Conserving cellular usage
- Selectively use Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
- Turn off AirDrop
- Halt background apps from refreshing
- Limit notification wake-ups
- Disable spotlight search
- Push rather than fetch email
- Don't auto download
- Don't wait to auto lock
Phone Induced Motion Sickness
While I have not suffered from this myself, many on the Apple forums have reported that the new animated interface causes them the equivalent of motion sickness. There are enough reports of this to date to suggest this is more than an isolated incident. I have a strong stomach so I'm not too worried about this one.
iPhone 5S Speed Claims and TouchID
As is the norm, Apple was happy to announce that the iPhone 5S is faster than its predecessor. I had a chance to compare the 5 and 5S, side by side, using popular apps and features in real world scenarios. What did I find? While the 5S did beat the 5 in a few scenarios, the performance was nearly identical. My tests included startup and shutdown, using Chrome for Web browsing, loading and running popular games as well as using social apps like Twitter and Facebook.
TouchID was something I was really looking forward to. I have always hated having to add my PIN to unlock the phone 50 times a day. I found that the 5S fingerprint sensor was slow and often failed to unlock the device, defaulting back to the PIN screen. This remained true after several recalibrations and using different fingers. I remain hopeful that this will improve in future devices.
I feel that iOS 7 is a step backward for Apple. While the OS did have some nice features and perks, my bottom line is:
1) How quickly can I get things done
2) How does the UI perform
3) How long will my battery last
4) Can I do what I want it to do easily?
In the end, I was happy to restore my 4S back to iOS 6. I'll give Apple some time to improve things and we'll try again later.
What I Did Like
- New camera interface
- Background Refresh (even though it's a battery drain)
- Siri improvements
How do you feel about iOS 7? Please leave your comments below.