At WWDC last week, Apple announced the latest iOS, version 7, in all its colorful, new-UI glory. As per usual, it also made an early beta available to developers. And enthusiasts around the world tore into the beta just hours after the keynote, digging deep into the system and discovering which applications were broken with the new UI changes.
I had iOS 7 up and running on my personal iPhone 5 before I went to sleep that night. And it only took a few minutes to fall in love with the new Control Center and appreciate the new, clean interface in Notification Center.
And after just a few days of use, there are a ton of takeaways.
First and foremost, Apple did exactly what it needed to in order to rekindle the buzz around iOS. While the general populace is still as in love with iOS as it was before, the press and enthusiasts had grown tired of the antiquated iOS interface.
Although the premise and context of the UI stayed mostly the same, it looks much better in most areas. (Other areas are … worse than before.) It’s fresh, vibrant, and modern. The unnecessary skeuomorphs have been removed, the linen pattern is gone from Notification Center, and more gestures have been implemented in lieu of on-screen Back buttons.
The home screen, for the most part, looks the same. But folders are endless and paginated – something I’m not particularly fond of (the paginated part). The Settings application, while it looks nicer and cleaner than before, is still just as confusing and over-encumbered as before. I still cannot understand why settings for individual applications are within the Settings app. Shouldn’t a specific app’s settings be available from within the application?
I digress. There are always going to be certain principles of iOS that I will never understand, like why I can’t share to Pocket from within Safari, or why I can’t set default applications for specific actions.
That aside, there are several things about iOS that feel thrown together, overdone, convoluted, and conflicted.
The lock screen, for example, isn’t all that different from what it was before. Incoming notifications file in, chronologically, from most recent at the top to oldest at the bottom. Swipe left-to-right over a notification to open to that one directly. Simple, right? Well, not exactly.
The slide to unlock action is still available, but there is no visual indicator for where to swipe. The notifications take up so much of the lock screen that you either have to swipe from the very left edge of the display or at the bottom, which reads “slide to unlock.” The problem is that there is also an arrow pointing upwards at the bottom of the display – a visual indicator for Control Center. It just feels wrong swiping there to unlock. As a long-time iOS user, I felt overwhelmed by the lock screen every time I pressed the power to Home button.
It is vital to remember this is, after all, a beta and things are going to be buggy. Maybe some of these things are still incomplete or not fully implemented.
But for the first time since I’ve been using iOS and trying different betas, I downgraded to older software. Over the weekend, I dropped my iPhone back down to iOS 6.1.4 as I simply couldn’t take iOS 7 any longer. It wasn’t necessarily iOS 7 itself or the vast amount of changes. I could deal with the lock screen and various bugs. That’s something you get used to after years of testing betas and trying hundreds of Android ROMs.
The problem I couldn’t deal with was the number of broken applications. Hangouts, Boxer, Google+, and a host of other important applications were broken due to the new interface. The entire Google+ interface shifted up to where half the notification icon rested beneath the status bar. Text within Boxer overlapped throughout the entire app. Hangouts wouldn’t let me scroll through different conversations or open existing conversations. This made using the iPhone tricky.
But the straw that broke the camel’s back was the iPhone locking up to the point holding the power button and Home button simultaneously didn’t reboot the phone. I waited about 30 minutes until the phone became responsive again, put it in DFU mode, and restored old software.
Honestly, I miss iOS 7, and I can’t wait until the next beta drops. Hopefully, by then, some developers will have updated their apps to support the new framework.
How have you fared on the iOS 7 beta, ladies and gents? Are you still riding in out in hopes it will get better in another week or so? Or have you already reverted back to iOS 6? Sound off below!