In June, Apple revealed iOS 7,
a new design for the software that powers iPhones and iPads.
This week I finally decided to install the latest beta software on my phone.
After two full days with the software, I have to say I think it’s excellent. It looks good, and more importantly, it works very well. It’s changing how I use the iPhone for the better.
Before I dig into what I like, I’d like to address some concerns about all the changes to the software.
Apple blogger Jim Dalyrmple believes people are going to freak out when they download the new iOS. After all, it’s a big change to the look of the software. The fonts are thinner, the big glossy buttons are gone, and Apple’s stock icons have been totally changed.
I don’t think people are going to have major freak outs. The way you use iOS hasn’t changed, just the look. The basic usage patterns are just about the same.
Will some people find the new look odd? Sure. But, for the most part, it’s actually not that disconcerting.
So what jumps out? Here are my general thoughts on the new OS:
The new icons for Apple’s apps aren’t a big deal. After Apple announced iOS 7, every designer with access to Photoshop and Illustrator whipped up a new (and in their opinion) better version of Apple’s icons. On the phone, I barely even notice Apple’s icons. (Although, this might be because I don’t use many of Apple’s native apps.) But, even the Safari icon, which looked the worst doesn’t seem all that bad.
The background of your phone is much more important in iOS 7. The colour of your background will colour much of what you do on the phone. I have grass as my background, which means the whole phone has a green look to it. The bottom row of docked apps have a green background, the folders have a green background, the notification center has a green background when I pull it down. This is because Apple uses a frosted glass style to create layers, so your background influences everything. I don’t mind it, but it does make you think more about your wallpaper choice.
The new control center is awesome. I’ve wanted Apple to add easy access to settings like WiFi, Bluetooth, and Aeroplane mode for a long time. It finally added that with control center, which you get from swiping up on the screen from the bottom. In addition to that stuff, you get easy access to the clock, calculator, flashlight, and camera. Previously, I had the settings app, the clock app, and the camera app on my home screen. I can now stuff them in a folder at the back of my iPhone and make room for other apps. This is great news for me, and it’s great news for developers who have a better shot at getting to the all-important front screen of the iPhone.
The notification center is much improved. Much like Google Now, Apple now tells you about what’s coming up for your day. The weather, reminders, calendar appointments, and stocks are all neatly laid out in the notification center. It’s a very good organiser. However, looking at it only makes me think that Apple should be allowing us to pick our default apps. I started using Clear as my to-do list app, so I’d like to have that in the notification center.
There are new animations, and they’re a bit off. Apple changed the way apps open and there’s something that feels slower than in the past. Maybe this will change as the software is improved, but for now they feel deliberate and just a touch weird.
Overall, it’s a cleaner look. It’s a welcome refresh, and I love it. I think when the general public gets their hands on it, they’re going to like it too.
Here’s an illustration of how the wallpaper you choose influences how the whole OS looks and feels, along with a look at the control and notification centres: