Reviewers have generally been pleased with the new version of Apple’s mobile operating system. I updated my phone while I was writing this first part of this post today, and decided to wait on publishing it until I used it for a few hours. People seem to be pleased with the new user interface and capability. The interface has been described as “utilitarian”, which I tend to agree with. It is sharp and austere. But, it seems to me so far less aesthetically pleasing and intuitive to maneuver. The latter complaint may be a result of having the previous functions so firmly engrained and having to relearn commands.
The swipe commands are neat. A swipe upward from the bottom of the screen will access what is being called the “Control Center”. The Control Center is where the settings you’re most likely to modify on a regular basis reside. It includes brightness, Volume, Bluetooth, WiFi, Airplane Mode, Play/Pause Music, Calculator, Camera, and a new feature, Flashlight. A swipe from the left margin brings you back to the previous screen you were on. The “Today Screen” accessed by swiping down from the top of the phone is nice and just reminded me I have an event this evening at 6:00pm that I had completely forgotten about. It shows birthdays, calendar, current stock prices, and the weather. Apple is up 2.13% so far today.
The camera has also been improved and features swipe functions to change between video, slow-motion video, still photos, square photos with filters, and panorama settings. Photos are now organized into “Moments” so that pictures are grouped into clusters by year, month, occasion, etc. This will take some getting used to for me. iTunes Radio comes installed in the native music app. It’s essentially an imitation of Pandora or Spotify.
There are several features that run in the background which drain the battery faster. One of them is the ability to have applications automatically update as they become available. To help preserve the battery, be sure to close applications when they are not in use. Do this by double tapping the home button, and swiping up on whichever application you'd like to close.
Maps still seems to be subpar, but hey its getting better. It can now offer walking directions. Make sure you have Google Maps installed.
The best part of iOS 7 may be the theft prevention and security features. Historically, you could track, lock, wipe, and send messages to a lost or stolen iPhone in hopes of recovering it. The newly added Activation Lock ties your iPhone to your iCloud account and makes the phone worthless to a thief without your Apple ID password. Even if a thief tried to jailbreak, erase, or force-reinstall the operation system, he will need your Apple ID Password to prep it for resale.
I like the contacts faces in chats; it makes group messaging a little more fun.
Siri got significantly upgraded so you can now have him or her (you can choose the voice) perform operations on your phone. Siri is able to recognize and execute commands like, “Open Bluetooth Settings” or “Open WiFi Settings”. That being said, I’ve never used Siri or voice commands, but perhaps that will change as both have reportedly been vastly improved.
In addition to the display not being my favorite so far, there are a couple things I miss or haven’t figured out yet. Double tapping the home button on a locked iPhone use to bring up basic controls for whatever audio was currently or most recently playing. I haven’t been able to access that capability in iOS 7. The same controls were formerly available by double tapping the home screen and swiping left, but they have been moved to the Control Center, which is accessed by swiping upwards from the bottom of the screen.
The folders that neatly hold and group apps now have multiple screens within them. Rather than having all the icons appear in one screen expanded across the display, now any folder with more than nine icons requires you to swipe left to see more.
Perhaps I’ll come to love and appreciate iOS 7 as much as the previous versions, but even though I’ve only spent 10 hours with it or so, this is the first time I haven’t loved an Apple innovation immediately. Is it just me, or is Apple starting to lose its touch?
In the mean time, here is a list of iOS 7’s Biggest Annoyances and How to Fix Them.
Also check out the nine things that iPhone and iPad users need to know about iOS 7.