Apple unleashed its newest operating system on the world Wednesday. You’ll find my preliminary thoughts on iOS 7 interspersed with some screenshots from my phone.
As of this writing, tech websites are reporting iOS 7 has already been installed on some 15% of Apple mobile devices so far.
I loaded iOS 7 into my iPhone 4S this morning and my first impressions are generally positive. Quickly, on the things that matter:
• The phone still works as it should. I remembered all my ringtone and message sound settings. I even took a phone call today (!) and everything went fine.
• The battery life was just as good as it was in iOS 6. With the Wi-Fi on at work and a 2G (EDGE) connection to my service provider, no Bluetooth, manual fetching of e-mails, minimal push notifications, some location services off and moderate use today, the phone’s charge went from 99% to 70% between 1 p.m. and midnight. Not too shabby.
• No apps misfired, to my knowledge.
The installation process was somewhat lengthy. From the time I told my phone to download until the iOS 7 setup menus became active, it took almost an hour.
Unlike some other iDevice users, however, I had no trouble downloading the operating system.
(As I write this, my third-generation iPad is being updated. It doesn’t appear to be taking quite as long.)
The interface is gorgeous. I am particularly fond of the extra-thin font is use for such things as the clock and keypad on the lock screen.
I’m also pleased at the ability to adjust the default font size, for apps that support this feature.
The parallax between the icons and the wallpaper is a little off-putting. Frankly, it hasn’t helped me (yet) to enhance the “layering” of the operating system, as Apple was pitching when iOS 7 was first introduced to the public.
The control centre is an idea whose time has come. I keep forgetting it’s there and continue to dig into my Settings menus to gain access to controls for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The new operating system offers a selection of cool wallpapers, in case you don’t have something special set aside. One set has dynamic wallpaper, with background bubbles that move around as your device moves.
Apple promised the migration to a whole new interface wouldn’t be painful, that it would be “instantly recognizable”, to quote Jony Ive from a video from Apple’s website.
That statement mostly holds true. Take the Messages interface, for example. Blue speech bubbles for iMessage; green for regular SMS. And if you look at the screenshot of the Settings menu above, you’ll see the hierarchy is pretty much identical to how it was in iOS 6.
However, there are few changes that break with the familiarity of the old versions of iOS.
• Swiping to delete (in Mail, for example) only works if you swipe right-to-left.
• You still double-click the home button to switch apps. To kill an app, you hold your finger on a screenshot and flick it upward … and it magically disappears.
• There is a new method to invoke Spotlight. Flick down from anywhere in the middle of the screen.
• Facebook and Twitter posting are gone from the Notification Centre.
• Weather remains as text describing current conditions in the Notification Centre — but only if “Weather” in location services is enabled.
• The Newsstand folder no longer behaves as an app. (I never understood why it did and I always found that annoying. I’m glad this was fixed.)
• You can set your apps to automatically update as fixes become available. This is not mandatory, however.
• The overview of your photos is grouped in specific time periods, in what Apple calls “Moments” and “Collections”. The behaviour of photo albums remains unchanged.
• The screen now fades in and out instead of turning immediately on or off.
Those are some of the things I noticed in my first half-day of using iOS 7. I’ll share with you any new discoveries and/or oddities that might come along as I become more familiarized with it.