Thoughts On Apple’s New iOS 7
There isn't really much to be said that hasn't already been so this past week on Apple's new iOS 7. I mean, truly, the web completely exploded with opinions and experiences with the software, so yet another review from me isn't really going to add a lot of value to the conversation. (If you are looking for some good coverage and opinion pieces, I enjoyed Macworld's and The Verge's takes.) However, there are a couple points I think are important to state, emphasize, or reiterate. I've been using the Betas on and off, fully making the transition to iOS 7 on Beta 5 (I know, don't use a beta on your main device, shush.) and what I've found is…
- Apps no longer feel independent from each other or the OS. In previous iOS versions, apps had their ecosystem; everyone kind of did their own thing with different visual designs. With iOS 7, apps feel part of a cohesive system. I can open Twitterrific, Evernote, Safari, and even Pivot, and although they vary on how they look, they absolutely feel like they belong together. iOS 7 is a system that developers can build with, not build on. This may change -- actually I am sure it will -- as time passes, but I don't believe apps will completely stray away as they have done before.
- The way apps zoom in and out is a subtle effect, but it brings a whole new sense of realism to the system. It's a minor addition yet completely changes the way you look at the OS. To continue from the point above, the effect reinforces the idea that all these apps are just different rooms of the same house, instead of unique homes altogether.
- The "flattening" of iOS 7 is not, in fact, a flattening. Ironically, this flat UI is the most 3D UI I have seen. The faux shadows and bevels and reflections have been scrapped for real depth. Whether it's the way Notification Centre and the blur-bars give a sense of context or the way apps zoom in and out of each other, iOS 7 has true layering and a genuine z-axis. I am excited to see what sort of ideas will come of this.
- There is undoubtedly some refining needed to be done, but it is important to remember that not only is iOS 7 the largest overhaul to be done to any mobile device's user experience, they are also restructuring the inner workings of the company. Things are different. They're thinking different. Just give it time: 7.1 is going to kill most of the most important bugs, and 7.2 is going to tighten up those smaller design flaws.
- The first, and usually best, layer of UI is the written word. There is nothing clearer than spelling things out in plain text. But I am not sold on having text everywhere, the return-to-previous-screen "buttons" most of all. The logic behind it is sound, but the execution isn't so. The words are just too unpredictable in length. I'd like to see a different solution… perhaps focusing more on the chevron?
- The Settings icon looks an awful lot like my kitchen garburator…
- I can't emphasize enough how fantastic background refreshing is. The App Store in particular, the way it auto-updates apps, is nothing short of wonderful. The downside is the drain on battery life, which I predict won't be that big of an issue on iPhones 5c/5s, but is for 4/4S/5 currently.
- Apps themselves are, on a whole, a huge improvement. Weather is beautiful, Settings is helpful, and Calendar is well designed. The utility apps could use some refinement while Clock desperately needs it. Photos is probably my favourite update with its focus on collections and moments. In fact when iPhone 5c/5s are out and about, the whole, photo-taking experience is going to be drastically improved. Now I am just waiting for Podcasts to update, too.
- After using iOS 7 for a several weeks, everything else feels dated, fake, and as though it is trying too hard. I can't believe we actually enjoyed using iOS 6. It does take some time to adjust, but looking back it is difficult to imagine anything else.
- Apple knows what they're doing.
On a final note, I'd just like to point out that at the end of the 19th, the second day after the unveiling, just about 40% of iPhone users will have upgraded to iOS 7. So that's two out of every five iOS devices of the current 600 million downloading a 752MB update in a day. This is a pretty rough ballpark here, but considering a leaching of 7,343,750GB/hour (176,250,000GB for the day), I'd say the Apple servers did pretty well.
What things have you noticed that have noticed that didn't get a lot of attention?