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Not your lucky number: iOS 7 falls a little flat

Guest contributor Michelle Simpson thinks that Apple's newest release, iOS 7, has actually taken a step backward. Do you agree?

The next incarnation of Apple's vaulted iOS has arrived, and yet -- for many of the people who have set eyes on it -- it feels as though the OS has taken a step back. While iOS 7 had as much pomp and circumstance as any other release, the actual OS and what it brought with it seemed to disappoint many Apple users.

The layout

The iOS 7 preview photos reveal a much more minimalistic and simplistic layout. Brian Rozen published several screenshots of the new iOS in its full beta glory, and you can see more than a few changes.

Previous iOS incarnations took advantage of the fact that the icons were masterfully rendered in 3D, but the new iOS has flatter, more simplistic blocks of color and vector art. The layout has also changed from the standard group of columns and rows that users have been accustomed to for a while.

Similarities to Android?

The new iOS 7 interface still has some home buttons at the bottom of the rows and columns, but the panels of the icons are now set in a way that's remarkably reminiscent of the swiveling panels in an Android OS system.

The panels themselves are "frosted," which allow a hazy blend of colors to come through from the users' background wallpaper. This is possibly done in order to make the vectorized icons better suited for the overall appearance of the OS.

Back to white

White has long since been the signature color and sleek elegant design of Apple products. However, it looks like the OS has also reverted to white. All apps would basically have a white base, including the music player. In addition to the white overall feel of the app interface, it's also semi-transparent -- the buttons are "clear" in the sense that it takes after the frosted haze of color coming from the user's wallpaper.

Controls

The Control Center screen now offers a flashlight, and it appears in a pull-up tray. This tray used to be a nuisance to iOS users who accidentally dropped it down every time they happened to make the same downward swipe twice. The music player controls (volume, skip forward, skip backward), Wi-Fi, airplane mode, night mode, and lock orientation buttons are now restricted to this screen. Next to the flashlight button is the clock, calculator, and camera, which are some of the most commonly used utilities in an iOS device.

Old model? Forget it

[Updated on July 10, 2013] One of the most jarring changes Apple has inflicted with iOS 7 is that some of the features are only compatible with the very newest Apple mobile products. For example, AirDrop -- which lets you quickly share photos, videos, and contacts -- is only available on the iPhone 5, iPod touch (5th generation), iPad (4th generation), or iPad mini with an iCloud account. Users of older models won't be able to wholly enjoy all of the features that users of the latest products will enjoy. This is a disconcerting thought, as it's only been a year or less since the latest models came out and not everyone will opt to upgrade.

Overall, iOS 7 brings changes -- some of them good, some of them bad. However, many users are left unimpressed, being far more used to Apple's previous standard. What are your first impressions about iOS 7? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.

Michelle Simpson is a full-time professional editor that focuses on online writing services, specializing in the field of technology like RingCentral PBX, business, and current trends in the industry.

22 comments
seephor
seephor

The bottom line here is Apple failed when they allowed you to look at an Android phone and WISH you had those features on your iPhone. Being a software engineer myself, there is absolutely no excuse lagging behind in software features in an atmosphere where something is new today and old tomorrow, NONE.

People argue, well Apple would be copying from Android... SO WHAT! a good idea is a good idea despite who invented it. I would not see Apple any less if they copied from Android, in fact, it would prove to me they have the staff to plan and implement the features. On the contrary, when I see a stale 5 year old OS claiming innovation with iOS 7. I see a LACK of planning and skill from the company.

Ironically it was Apple who claimed that it's not the device that's most important, but the SOFTWARE (they said Apps at the time).

rasilon
rasilon

Based on a beta (and some wrong facts, you've decided that iOS7 is bad. Come on!!

mmurray49
mmurray49

Not sure what people are expecting from Apple - repeat global game changing innovations, market dominance and bar raising every 6 months? Just loaded iOS 7 BETA 3 yesterday and I think the changes are enough to provide a welcome new experience until the next heart break for "competing" platforms. "3D masterfully rendered icons" won't be missed - possibly ditched for CPU cycle use elsewhere. Grasp onto this: it's also about what's "under the hood", the reliability and the elegant, reliable functionality we Apple lovers appreciate most. :-)

Gisabun
Gisabun

This is following a patternsince Cook took over. No innovation. Apple is resorting to copying from the competition [and not just the Android OS]. The next iPhone isn't expected to improve much on the iPhone 5 in the hardware side and many specs are exceeded by other manufacturers [for example, rumors has it the camera in the next iPhone still won't beat the Galaxy S4. And of course every OS and/or hardware release bring a set of problems. From antenae issues to WiFi to 4G issues.

hartiq
hartiq

Surely, Ms. Simpson is a person? I know it is nit-pickery of the most tedious sort but should that footnote note have read: "...editor who..."? Sorry, but I'm warm, sticky and sort of cranky just now.

hartiq
hartiq

Ms. Simpson: "Apple’s vaulted iOS"? It is probably a typo rather than a lexiconic or spelling error but possibly you intended to type "vaunted" ("bragged about")? It makes an "ell" of a difference. No, I won't apologise for that one.

NickP2012
NickP2012

I have been long time Apple user (iPhone) but the iPhone get old way to quick, I also think iOS 7 is a step backwards for Apple with the white background. I now have a Samsung Galaxy S4 and like it a lot more than my old iPhone. I don't see me leaving Galaxy for a long time.

nat.hansen
nat.hansen

I'm already using alot of this functionality on my android. Come on apple... dig deeper... don't lose pace now.

tomqbl
tomqbl

And at the very bottom...: Features are subject to change. Not all features are available on all devices.

matenai
matenai

You know Apple is in trouble when it yields to influences of it's competition instead of remaining loyal to it's history of innovation. The screen shots I have seen depict a boring lack of contrast and snap. Maybe they should rename this iOSdroid.

notyetfinished
notyetfinished

[quote]Old model? Forget it One of the most jarring changes Apple has inflicted with iOS 7 is that it’s only compatible with the very newest Apple mobile products. Anything less than the iPhone 5, iPod Touch 5th Generation, iPad with Retina, and iPad mini will only get the look and feel of the iOS 7. Users of older models won’t be able to wholly enjoy whatever full features users of the latest products will enjoy. This is a disconcerting thought, as it’s only been a year or less since the latest models came out and not everyone will opt to upgrade.[/quote] This is just not true!!!!!!!! http://www.apple.com/ios/ios7/features/ scroll to the bottom and you will see it is compatible with iphone 4 upwards! Sloppy reporting

adornoe
adornoe

BTW, if something is a fact, it cannot be wrong at the same time. Thus, "wrong fact" is an oxymoron. Here's another oxymoron: Apple innovation. ;)

gechurch
gechurch

I don't like the look of the new UI (in fact I think it's hideous... I hate this new flat look. I can't stand Office 2013 either) and I personally think that is a step backwards. I agree though that we shouldn't continue to expect game-changing innovation with every iOS release. The game-changing thing was introducing a phone/tablet/music player with a high-quality touchscreen that was simple and fun to use. Everything since then has been an incremental improvement to that experience. iOS devices are now at that next point in their lifecycle. Initially people thought they were wonderful and started thinking of ways they could use them for tasks they weren't necessarily intended for. In the early iOS updates Apple could target the low-hanging fruit that improved the experience and opened up a few more possibilities. I think we're now at the point of saturation where anyone that wants an iOS device has one. And we're also at the point where a nice touchscreen isn't enough anymore. There's going to be a natural slowdown in sales, and the updates that Apple bring out won't be as significant as the ones in the past have been. In fact, I think Apple may find it very hard from here on in, just as Microsoft have for some time now. For every new feature that Apple bring out there will be loads of people saying "Why did they implement that? What they really should have implemented was features x, y and z". The problem, as Microsoft knows well, is the features x, y and z will be different for each person. So whenever you implement any new feature you'll be accused of bloating the operating system with unnecessary crap. And if you make a big "look and feel" change like this you'll be accused of just repackaging existing functionality without adding anything new (just like Office 2007 and Windows 8). Welcome to the hard road of being the big, monopolistic market leader Apple.

mmurray49
mmurray49

The last time I listened to the "Apple's in trouble" mantra (like an idiot) was back in 97 when shares were $20.00+.

adornoe
adornoe

Apple's most innovative division is the marketing division, because, when it comes to innovation, Apple's hasn't really innovated much in any area, and what they've produced in most of its history, is better packaging for the same technology that is available to just about every other manufacturer out there. Otherwise, there isn't really anything that Apple has in its repertoire that others don't, and now, others are beating Apple in marketing as well.

Sonja Thompson
Sonja Thompson

I saw the information that the author was trying to convey and updated the post. Not all features are available on all devices - and the features are subject to change (per Apple's disclaimer at the bottom of the page of the link you provided). Only the newest Apple devices will get the full benefit of iOS 7.

adornoe
adornoe

to 1997 numbers in a couple of years. Apple had a few good years, and it's now just another player in the bigger market, where most of the competition is leaving Apple in the dust.

djbarbaro
djbarbaro

Yes and no. Apple has for sure been a huge innovator. Thing is everybody will catch up sooner or later. And yes they may not have been very original in some of their products lately in terms of innovation. Having said this, their products compared to others is like comparing a "smart car" to a new "Camero" I mean their both cars, so why waste on a Camero. They make quality products. And sleek products. And high quality products. Most people that do not like apple are ones that want one of their products but for whatever reason cannot get one. Or just hate apple cause they can't do silly high school customizations.. Put it this way, if you were to get all the same components as a Camero, i.e. Engine, chassis, trans, axels and wheels, but no body, no leather no nothing else but what is needed to make a bare car, and put a simple plastic casing over it and and cheap seats in it would it still be the same car. I mean shit that doesn't sound appealing to me. But hey it works right. :)

MadestroITSolutions
MadestroITSolutions

It is true they have access to the same technology. What makes the difference is how they utilize that technology. It's the spark in someone's head that leads them to do wonderful things with stuff that is available to everyone. I am a Windows platform software engineer and trust me when I tell you it's not just better packaging. Apple is my nemesis in a way and even I have to acknowledge their approach is better. Heck, I use their products myself while I continue to code for Windows. I could list all the technological reasons but it would be too boring. Just know that when you get an Apple device, you get the most bang for your buck.

notyetfinished
notyetfinished

As with each iPhone release the OS update happens as well as new hardware features... The things that won't work on all old models are hardware dependent ( like Siri only on 4s) this is the same across all phones.. Software drives hardware... However unlike Android devices that need to wait months or never for manufactures and carriers to approve updates.. The majority of the OS's benefits will be available on a 3 yr old device the day it is released ... This is still misleading...

adornoe
adornoe

better or superior, but, the reality is that, what they produce comes with better marketing a huge dose of hype, but their materials are just about the same as everybody else uses, which makes Apple's tech no better than that of the competition. You like the automobile analogies, I see. Well, how 'bout this one: Apple's tech is made to be nice looking and of superior quality. Not too much to debate there. But, Apple's "cars" can't do what most other cars are made to do. iOS is very limited, but a Wintel car (Surface tablet, for example) is made to handle just about anything that's tossed at it. So, let's see: iOS is made to run on ARM processors, and Windows and Android tablets are made to run on ARM processors. They all can handle whatever is tossed at them in the same way, except that, iOS has been around longer and has a bigger group of loyal fans. Other than the loyalty, and the amount of time that iOS has been out there, there is absolutely nothing that the Apple tablets or smartphones can do better than the competition. In fact, the competition has leff the iStuff eating their dust. ;)

adornoe
adornoe

A good imagination; that's all it takes to believe that Apple stuff is better or superior, but, the reality is that, what they produce comes with better marketing and a huge dose of hype, but their materials are just about the same as everybody else uses, which makes Apple's tech no better than that of the competition. You like the automobile analogies, I see. Well, how 'bout this one: Apple's tech is made to be nice looking and of superior quality. Not too much to debate there. But, Apple's "cars" can't do what most other cars are made to do. iOS is very limited, but a Wintel car (Surface tablet, for example) is made to handle just about anything that's tossed at it. So, let's see: iOS is made to run on ARM processors, and Windows and Android tablets are made to run on ARM processors. They all can handle whatever is tossed at them in the same way, except that, iOS has been around longer and has a bigger group of loyal fans. Other than the loyalty, and the amount of time that iOS has been out there, there is absolutely nothing that the Apple tablets or smartphones can do better than the competition. In fact, the competition has left the iStuff eating their dust. BTW, good one trying to obfuscate with that Apple "nemesis" comment. There is a reason why most people use Windows, and there is a reason why the Apple stuff gets around 5% of the market. You clearly are using MS Windows, because, that's where the jobs are, and where the money is. When one sits down to analyze with clarity the reasons that people LOVE Apple, it just doesn't make sense, especially when there are others making the same kind of quality product, and even better. There is only one thing that Apple uses that the competiition can't, and that's the Apple logo. BTW, ever notice that the bite off the apple equates to about 5% of the apple? Apple's share in the PC market is about the size of that bite of the apple. Apple's slice of the total PC market is about the size of that bite. :)