iOS 7 Review

iOS 7 has come with much fanfare. It looks different and has animations (although whether it has more animations than previous versions is less obvious). Unlike developers who have been using it for the past two months, I only was able to get access to it (legally) on release day. I have an iPhone 4S and iPad 3, both were on the latest release of iOS 6.

The upgrade itself went smoothly, namely since I was diligent to upgrade all my apps prior to upgrade. Downloading the upgrade binary took longer than actually applying the upgrade. The setup prompted me for a passcode which I enabled. It was something I’ve thought of enabling for a while but decided it was the time since they prompted me. All applications and previous preferences were in place after install.

I have seen plenty of screenshots of iOS 7 after WWDC so I knew what I was getting into visually. A few pieces did surprise me when I started using it hands on. First, the animations do make the system coherent. I’m not sure why but actions flow from one to the other. I attribute it to the fact that things zoom in and out in a consistent manner. I also noticed how crisp the fonts look. They’re svelt and look sharp as can be on the iPhone. I love crisp fonts and this only helps.

Control Center is quite nice to use. It makes common tasks accessible. Works as advertised.
The multi-tasking is nice but does slow down quite a bit on my 4S. I’m expecting the 5s to handle this task much faster. The swipe motion is easier but less intuitive I think than the older “x box” method. iOS 6’s method was more consistent with how to delete applications from the home screen while this has no existing metaphor. Not a huge change though and overall I like the new multi-tasking dialog.
Now onto the negatives.

The new interface isn’t bad but I don’t love it. While it has a refreshing feel to it, using iOS 6 doesn’t feel “old” to me. I’ve heard a lot of people say using iOS 7 makes the old interface feel old and antiquated. I beg to differ. I find iOS 6 to feel much more refined via iteration. I saw someone say iOS 7 feels like their old disco jacket. I didn’t get the honor of living through the disco era but I agree. I can’t find the adjective to use for the iOS 7 interface but I am starting with gaudy.

The colors also get in the way itself. I was driving and using Apple Maps to get around. The map happened to have been white and the “Slide to Unlock” text was off white. I couldn’t tell that it was in the lock screen. On a similar note, Apple Maps has a refined interface and while improved, still isn’t where it needs to be. Someday perhaps I’ll do an Apple Maps review.

The interface has some small quirks which could probably be fixed with tweaks. For example, I was in control center and accidentally turned off bluetooth instead of sliding the window down. When trying to open control center with the on screen keyboard, it pressed a bunch of keys. Small things like this don’t feel like Apple level polish. I’ve also had two phone restarts and quite a few application crashes. I’ve talked to others who haven’t had any problems whatsoever so looks like my mileage is varying.

Finally, the Siri voice is smoother but does some terribly pronunciation. I find it hard to understand and in many ways prefer the old Siri voice. I could work up some examples to show. It is much faster to recognize speech though.

My iPad hasn’t been upgraded as I need some specific functions to work in a couple of weeks and don’t want to take that chance. I’m looking forward to that upgrade and see how it feels on the iPad but I expect my experience won’t change too much.

Overall I like iOS 7. It has a fluidity to it and has some nice features such as control center. However, the interface doesn’t sit with me very well as I prefer more subtle colors to the brightness it has. It also has some quirks which bother me. I’ll happily upgrade my iPad when I can and will be fully iOS 7 then. Unfortunately, using iOS 6 is refreshing for me. Possibly for familiarity. But if iOS 6 is a refreshing escape from iOS 7, I think that will be a bad omen for this release for me.