iOS 7 Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The internet is absolutely loaded with 2 things right now: iOS 7 traffic as people download the latest iOS update and a billion blog posts reviewing iOS 7. I feel it is my job to fuel the fire with my own iOS 7 review.

Firstly, it is worth noting that there are a variety of opinions out there about whether or not iOS 7 is good or bad. Like many, however, I see the OS as taking a number of steps forward and several steps back (as well as some unnecessary side steps). Here’s the breakdown:

iOS 7 InterfaceThe Good

iOS 7 brings about the biggest visual change that Apple has ever put forward. Apple has redesigned just about every single interface and application — I can’t think of anything that hasn’t been redesigned. For those that embrace change (I fall into that camp), the update is very welcome and seems refreshing. For everyone else, many changes will seem arbitrary and frustrating. The good news is that after a week or so, most users will have adapted.

Upgrading was as easy as usual, not including a delay because of overwhelming traffic to Apple’s servers and almost all settings and app data made it across safely to the new OS. Unfortunately, for some reason, my apps did not. A quick visit to the “purchased” section of the App Store app allowed me to re-download the apps painlessly and thankfully all of my app data made the transition.

The best addition to iOS 7 is the introduction of Control Centre for quickly changing phone settings. Of course, this functionality has existed via jailbreak for several years now, but it is great to finally see it baked into the OS as a standard feature.

Based on this, I can finally say that a jailbroken iPhone is no longer an absolute necessity. I still miss my 5-icon dock though.

The Bad
iOS 7 App SwipeThe bad news is that many changes are not just visual and may have gone a step in the wrong direction. Apple decided to rethink many system-wide gestures — some that have worked out for the better and others that add prolonged confusion. Take the new swipe gestures in the default “Mail” application, for example. Apple has decided to change the “swipe for options” functionality from a left-to-right swipe to a right-to-left swipe. This was done, presumably, because of the new OS-wide left-to-right swipe “back” function. However, it just doesn’t feel natural to swipe right to left and is a harder action to perform.

The notification center, by default, has also been made worse. The new “Today” view has been declared terrible by many. Thankfully, you can return the notification center to the way it was by changing some settings.

The Ugly

Call me shallow, but one of my biggest issues with iOS 7 is the overall colour scheme. I call it rainbow unicorn vomit. The fact that Apple got rid of skeuomorphism is fantastic, and most of the menus are dramatically improved visually. However, most of the new stock icons look like off-colour candy and make the overall OS feel more like a children’s toy than a serious new OS.

Some of the biggest problems that you can immediately fix are outlined in a recent Lifehacker article: fixing iOS 7’s biggest annoyances. Some of these frustrating items are:

  • Parallax — the unnecessary, constantly shifting of home screen apps when you move the phone. Distracting and useless.
  • Disable Control Center when in applications — for some apps that require interaction towards the bottom of the screen causing users to accidentally pull up Control Center.
  • Improving battery life by disabling background app refreshing
  • Returning notification center back to its superior old self

iOS 7 Album Artist AnnoyanceAlso, a small but particularly annoying change has been made to the Music app. Instead of selecting an artist and then being presented with a list of albums to drill-drown on, you are given a list of all songs for all albums instead. This makes it much more difficult to get to a specific album since you may have to scroll through every other album before reaching the one that you want (see the screenshot on the left).

Overall, iOS 7 is refreshing seeing as the OS has retained the same look for so long. However, Apple has overdone some of the visual changes and made a number of changes that are unnecessary. Despite some on-going annoyances, most users will quickly come to terms with the new OS and enjoy some of the best features like the Control Center.

What do you think about iOS 7?

Let me know in the comments below.




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No iPhone 5, but the iPhone 4S is Still Awesome!

iphone-4s-siriA lot of people are upset that after months of build-up, Apple failed to release an iPhone 5. I understand why some people would be disappointed but – the iPhone 4S is awesome!

Although I find certain things about the iPhone 4 annoying (like the lack of openness, in an open source world), it still remains the best phone on the market to this day. Well, until October 14th that is.

Yes, we all expected to have our imaginations shattered with Apple’s announcement the other day. The iPhone 4S is certainly an incremental improvement but a large incremental improvement at that. This is one powerful phone! The real question though, is if all those improvements did not warranty a “5”, then what will? I am truly excited for the next innovation that Apple will see worthy of the name “iPhone 5”. Who knows, by then it might be known as something else entirely.

What was particularly interesting in the pre-conference build-up was how sure many were of the iPhone 5 rumours. Some case manufacturers even went as far as to make cases for the non-existent iPhone 5, and some people are still buying them!

It is always a big gamble to try and predict what Apple will do next. Despite the “evidence” that travels around, the truth is that no one ever truly knows what they will do next . . .


Closed Systems–Putting Consumers Second

closed-systems-putting-consumers-secondI have a funny relationship with Apple and PlayStation – I love their products and hate their products at the same time. Specifically though, it’s closed ecosystems and the lack of consumer choice that is baked into these companies policies that really get me.

Apple is notoriously bad for maintaining closed products that, although they are great products, could be so much more if they just let go a little. I think the best comparison for Apple’s policies is an over-protective mother who can’t stand to see something happen to their child so they give them no freedom. It’s actually a perfect comparison. Perfect.

Apple’s software is locked down with minimal opportunity for customization. Users must resort to “jailbreaking” their phones in order to restore functionality to their phone that has been locked down. Jailbreaking has become extremely common – so much so, that it is crazy to believe that Apple still thinks it is working in the best interest of consumers. Don’t get me wrong, Apple products are great but they have so much more potential. Android is slowly but surely taking over the market because of its prevalence across devices as well as its open environment that allows both basic users and hackers enjoy the full ability of the hardware and software that they purchased. Apple, please learn soon. We are your customers. Hear us roar.

PlayStation also has a similar problem. Their customers pay hundreds of dollars for their hardware only to be restricted to the company’s wishes. PlayStation’s audience is hardcore gamers who like to hack and customize. They need to make sure they always operate for that audience. Restricting hardware might be okay for a system like the Wii (where many users are not techies) but not for a system like the PS3.

The funny thing about having a closed system is that if the mass public wants it open – they’ll get it open. When you get the attention of hundreds of hackers, it’s only a matter of time. If you won’t open it up, they WILL.

Hackers recently attacked the PlayStation network, taking it down for weeks. Their motivation is believed to be retaliation for PlayStation having attempted to sue a hacker that was hacking their software to make it more open. Their loss is estimated at billions. A pricey lesson to learn for not listening to your customers. Not to mention customers like myself losing respect for PlayStation.

PlayStation, Apple. Figure it out. Seriously.

Sony and Apple – Communicate With Your Customers!

Lately there were two major PR blow-ups that could have been dampened if customers were informed of the situation. I speak of the recent PlayStation Network troubles and what I refer to as the Apple tracking location situation.

Both of these situations caused an uproar that rippled through the tech community with blogs exploding with speculation. The two situations are quite similar in that they are both tech-related, happened to two behemoth companies and both situations were left to fester.

The PlayStation Network (PSN) was hacked

For those unaware, the PSN was recently hacked by a group of individuals who then stole network user’s information – including credit card information. This is a severe situation – one that Sony will have a hard time coming back from. There may forever be a black spot on Sony for allowing such an intrusion. However, they did themselves no favours when they failed to inform their customers of exactly what was going on.

The PSN was down for days before an official response was issued, leaving customers searching for information as to why they could no longer play their games online. Little did they know that at that given moment their personal information was jeopardized. If Sony had issued a response immediately, users would not have had to take to forums to answer their questions. Long before Sony issued an official response there was a ton of speculation as to what was happening. Sony’s silence allowed those rumours to build and grow and people began to fear the worst. Except that in this case, their worst fears were realized.

It is understandable that Sony would wish to have all the facts before releasing an official statement, however they could have pre-warned users. Consumers are largely forgiving if they are not kept in the dark. Withholding information makes the situation much worse when the truth comes out.

Apple Tracking Location Information

Apple recently had a similar problem. As it turns out, Apple iPhone’s have been keeping records of user locations. Naturally, this angered users – many of whom are already a little weary of location-based technology.

Again, like Sony, instead of immediately issuing a response they decide to wait in silence before informing customers of the situation. Rumours began; people were outraged. Long before Apple issued a response the damage was done.

Apple is lucky that it has a strong brand image – this issue will be forgotten before long – but if they continue down this path of leaving customers in the dark they may slowly tarnish that shiny brand image they have worked so hard to achieve.

In summary

Communicate to your customers! Do not wait. Even if you do not know all the details at least throw them a bone. You owe them at least that.

This is a great supporting article: