Today is the day every iOS fanatic has been awaiting for years. From the time iOS was first announced to the last major update, iOS 6, the operating system has looked mostly the same. Apple added features along the way but, for the most part, it has always been the same iOS.
For the last six years, the interface has remained mostly unchanged. And few viewed that as a serious problem. The vocal minority and us tech writers have griped about it for years, about how stale iOS has become as new and existing operating systems have been graced with new looks and groundbreaking features. But the average iOS user probably could not have cared less about how iOS looked … so long as it worked. And that’s something iOS has always excelled at – working, reliably.
Today, Tim Cook & Co. took stage in the Moscone Center in San Francisco to kick-off WWDC and announce some important changes and updates. Among the announcements was something long overdue – an iOS with a totally new interface, iOS 7.
Like I said at the end of May, if Apple drastically changes the UI, I will be content. And I am. In fact, most of us here at Pocketnow are. And while Apple answered to most of the outstanding issues with iOS, there are some things missing that would greatly benefit Apple’s mobile OS.
This is something I have been adamant about for the better part of two years now. I obsess over it, because it’s easily my favorite feature of Android. But Apple’s closed system has prevented cross-app communication and interoperability. And, unfortunately, nothing changes on that front in iOS 7.
The best example I can think of is my favorite use case, which I mentioned during the Pocketnow Live we did during the keynote. If I’m in an application that supports sharing – Gmail, Falcon Pro, Google+, Facebook, Messages, Hangouts, etc. – I can quickly send something to Pocket for safe keeping, or I can send a link to URLy, which uses my Bitly credentials, auto-shortens links, automatically copies to the clipboard, and allows me to share to no less than 20 apps, all at the press of a single button.
To get the same effect on iOS, I would have to start with a certain app, copy the link, open the URL shortener app, paste the long URL, copy the short URL, open the app I want to share to, paste, and share. The Android way is two or three steps. The iOS way is no less than 11 steps.
Most advanced mobile operating system? Hardly.
No user-definable default apps
I, like most, am an avid user of third-party applications. For example, I have never liked the stock Mail app on iOS, and have recently started using Boxer for all my Gmail needs. Yet if you want to share a picture from the Photos app to email, it defaults to Mail.app, not your client of choice.
Likewise, if you use Chrome, Dolphin, or any other third-party browser, links still default to Safari, unless you’re in Gmail, YouTube, Google+, or any other Google-made app. There’s no way, without jailbreaking, to set your favorite applications as default over Apple’s own first-party apps.
With a new interface and updated stock applications all-around, this may be less of an issue than before. But contrary to Apple’s philosophy, choice is a great thing. And not all Apple-made apps are worth using (ahem … Maps). Need I say more?
New look, same ol’ keyboard
I’ve written about physical and soft keyboards a few times since I started here at Pocketnow. And one thing is certain about mobile text input: it’s radically changed since the beginning of soft keyboards. Apple actually played a fairly significant role in that advancement … years ago.
But auto-correct is a feature many of us love as much as we hate it.
In the last two years, touchscreen input has changed, conceptually. Tapping on a smooth, tactiless, glass display is hardly the best way to input text. And third-party options for Android, such as Swype and SwiftKey, have revolutionized touchscreen typing. Even Google’s stock keyboard offers prediction and trace typing.
While Apple’s keyboard was once considered the best soft keyboard around, a lot has changed since 2007. Unfortunately, the iOS keyboard hasn’t. In iOS 7, it has a new look. But under the surface, it seems to be the same ol’ standard QWERTY with no major improvements.
My larger-than-normal thumbs will surely have just as much trouble typing on the tiny iOS 7 keyboard as the iOS 6 keyboard.
No major improvements to Siri
Siri definitely turned some heads in 2011. Even a few months after its launch, we were enthralled with the snarky digital assistant.
But even Woz said Apple ruined what Siri was before it was acquired. And with things like Google Now, which work in the background, often completely automated, it’s unfortunate you still have to call upon Siri for it to be useful. I’ve gotten used to Google Now just telling me things when I need to know them, like package tracking info, local events, when I need to leave to make it to my appointments on time, etc.
Also, those new voices are kind of creepy. And Bing integration? Really?
Those colors …
Don’t get me wrong, I like colors. While the clothes I wear are mostly neutral, I’m a fan of colors. My home screen setup generally has a popping color or two. And some of the accessories and bags I buy are bright colors. Heck, the car I bought a few weeks ago is a bright orange – Hot Lava, to be exact.
I disagreed with Tony during the Hangout in that iOS has been “TouchWiz’d.” After some reflection, I don’t entirely agree, but I definitely see what he was referring to. Now iOS looks more cartoon-esque than ever, and it’s playful – a stark contrast from the professional feel of iOS 6 and before. At every turn, there are bright, vibrant colors: purple, light blue, yellow, green, red, orange, etc.
They are all tiny accents, which is fine. But there is color everywhere. And if you’re not a fan of such vibrant, playful colors, there’s no escaping them in iOS 7, for better or worse.
How do you feel about iOS 7, readers? Is it everything you were hoping for? Are you disappointed? Or indifferent? The overall reception here at Pocketnow is excitement and eagerness to get our hands on the new software (which should happen by day’s end). Sound off with your thoughts below!