Apple’s new iOS 7, completely redesigned by “design genius” Jonathan Ive, could very well be a game-changing move in the smartphone market. The changes announced at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference left me with excitement and a “really?” feeling at the same time. Are the changes going to scare away people who have grown accustomed to a simple and elegant user interface? Are there too many options? Is the Apple vs. Android line in the sand being crossed? I had to see the changes for myself, so I loaded up the beta version to an iPhone 5. Here are my thoughts and grades on some of the major changes and additions.
Aesthetics: The design change and overall concept at first threw me off. It took me a little while to accept the fact that everything changed. It is clean looking, but does not have the same Apple feel I have grown accustomed to. It is still up in the air for me on this category. Grade: TBD
Control Center: The convenience of the swipe up control center is without a doubt nifty, but realistically Android has had this for years. Apple’s arrogance shines through in the omission of having the capability to customize your control center. Toggles that work for one user are not necessarily what every other user is going to prefer. Grade: C-
Notification Center: Unlike the control center, Apple allows for a customized notification pull down menu. The three tabbed notification covers calendars, updates, and what you missed. Apple may not have been the first to come up with the notification bar, but they definitely got it right. Grade: A
Multitasking: The smart addition of a learning multitasking feature is the bright spot here. Learning a user’s tendencies and seamlessly auto updating a specific app based on these tendencies is pretty cool. The new display was torn right out of WebOS. It is nice looking and a smart change, but let’s hope they don’t keep pulling other features from WebOS. Grade: A
Camera – The camera is always one of the features that interests me because of how often it is used. The change of being able to swipe between video, regular photo, pre cropped square photos, and panoramic mode is very user friendly. The filter option…it’s about time. There is a slight delay in the beta camera feature, but that will hopefully be fixed by the official release date. Grade: B-
Photos – The feature of grouping photos by date and location has been around. Most photo management programs already do this. It seems like a feature added for users not moving photos to a computer. I understand the addition of it, but it does nothing for me. The iCloud photo sharing is cool, I guess…How many sharing outlets can we possibly need? Between all the social media outlets, wireless transfer technologies, and cloud storage services, I did not see a need for the development of this feature. Grade: C-
Airdrop – Another sharing feature!? Again, how many do we need! Social Media, Bluetooth, e-mail, MMS, cloud services, iCloud photo sharing, and now Airdrop. I should have all my content shared with everyone by bedtime…if they have an updated Apple device. Repetitive! Grade: F
Safari – Combining the search and url bar is a great feature. I will not miss typing search criteria into the url bar and getting a page not found error. With that being said, Android has had this for a while. The new tab view is nice. The iCloud keychain sounds nice, but I can’t give you feedback on it. I know it has 256 bit AES encryption, but the idea of storing all my passcodes and credit card information on a cloud service still scares me. Grade: B
iTunes Radio – Apple has now thrown their hat into the ring with the streaming music industry and are primed to cripple competitors. The feature is smooth and keeps the user tied to the Apple brand. Backed by ad driven revenue, iTunes Radio should ensure Apple’s dominance in the music industry. It could help artists drive revenue up too. The love/hate relationship with streaming radio will never be completely gone, but Apple will be paying more to the artist than Pandora. Every cent helps! Grade: A
Siri – The added feature of keeping the search or command in the Siri application for as long as possible is very nice. It cuts back on having to open multiple windows and is much cleaner. The capability to change the voice gender is funny. Grade: B+
Overall: There are both bright points and wasted efforts in my opinion. They really did put more changes into this build than the past updates. Some of the changes/additions were overdue, some of the changes are beneficial to the user, and some of the changes were just not necessary.
Here are a few things to think about.
- The amount of changes may be too dramatic for the die-hard apple user.
- It could be so much change that it might open the door for long-term Apple users to consider an Android device.
- Thought #2 does not apply if you own multiple Apple devices. The update only puts you deeper into Apple’s grasp.
We will just have to wait and see how the Apple following reacts to have all of these questions answered.
Overall Grade: B