iOS7 review

Desktops

by | 23 September 2013

Claire Vanner reflects on the new iPhone software update.

Over the weekend I updated my iPhone to the new iOS7 operating system.

It is now Monday afternoon and after some hesitation (I generally don't like change) I actually quite like it.

I thought I would share some of my thoughts with you:

The first thing to notice is when clicking the hold button, is the display turns on not in a flash, but in a gradual fade, and vice versa when locking the screen. Not a massive change, but it's the subtle nuances that can win people over.

Overall, the jump from iO6 is far from subtle: more of a leap than a jump, while the simple Apple interface is still present, the design has changed quite dramatically.

Arguably, Apple has taken a step back and simplified the OS. The app icons no longer have 3D highlighting and skeumorphic elements to make them lifelike. They are now simple, plain-lined, 2D drawings: clean and simple, much like the iPhone handset themselves.

A nice addition is the clock app icon: the hands of the clock actually move in accordance to what time it is now, even the skinny red second hand keeps real-time. Not that anyone is probably going to squint at the app icon to tell the time when it right there at the top of the screen in digital format.

I did have a moment of unnecessary frustration when the update had initially completed. The phone resets itself before opening up. Upon looking at the newly installed software, my first page of apps were all there, but when I swiped to the right, all that was there was the new FaceTime app. Where had all my other apps gone?

I was not impressed and believed I would have to plug my phone into my laptop to update from there. But then I realised all my apps had simply been pushed across onto another page, leaving a blank page in the middle. Not disastrous, but for people who are doing this late at night and not really paying attention (i.e. me) it can be frustrating searching for supposedly lost apps.

The best new function would have to be the easy access menu of the Control Centre from swiping up from the bottom of the screen. It puts all the functions that most of us spend to long swiping around and searching through folders for right there in front of us in button form: Airplane mode, Do Not Disturb Mode, Wifi, torch, timer, calculator and camera. All very handy.

control centre

Oh, and Bluetooth is there too, but apart from those who use it to remotely print emails and connect to built-in car hands-free systems, I don't know who uses Bluetooth on their phone any more. Of course, the basic music function is available on the Control Centre as so many people, myself included, now use their iPhone as their iPod as well.

The method of quitting running apps is also more efficient. Rather than the tedious old way of double clicking the home button and lots of tapping on small icons along the bottom of the screen, a much clearer swipe function across a full screen has been introduced. It also lets you see the running page of the app you are closing rather than just the icon: handy in case you were about to inadvertently close down something important.

My pictures are laid out more clearly in the photo gallery. Although in a slightly Big Brother-esque fashion, it tells me the exact time and location I took the photo: as in the road and the time. It can even tell me the port I was in on my holiday on a remote Greek island - remote enough to be able to flush toilet paper down the loo, but all the cafes still had WiFi.

When it comes to the pictures themselves, in this Instagram influenced age of photo taking, Apple has added more filters to the camera to make photos look vintage, retro and instant. Basically, like you didn't take it on your phone.

The AirDrop feature, although it has been available for a while, is now more glaring obvious and is featured in the Control Centre. It allows you to share files with other iOS7 devices by simply viewing a list of compatible devices in the vicinity and tap and share to send. Much like BlackBerry used to have the exclusive BBM club, Apple will now have the AirDrop club.

AirDrop is also implicated in the new Safari browser, making it easy to share websites. Safari itself has clearer display by eliminating the address bar when browsing, allowing for a full screen of the web page, which is nice: every little helps.

Apple prides itself on being user friendly, and I would say that iOS7 is certainly that. It has been changed quite drastically, to the extent that I almost feel like I'm using a new phone. Yet at the same time, it still has that reassuring Apple quality to it: high tech but easy to use, cool but accessible to the masses, new but traditional.

If you haven't downloaded it yet, what are you waiting for?

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