At long last, iOS has been made different. It seems that since 2007, we’ve complained about being frustrated by sameness. Well, that sameness is now a thing of the past because iOS 7 is a deep change. It touches every toggle, every app, every menu of iOS, and it represents a dramatic modernization of the mobile operating system that propelled the smartphone industry forward six years ago. We got a hold of the developer preview, which seems to be quite stable, in our iOS 7 hands-on. Battery life seems worse than the latest stable version of iOS 6, but overall stability and performance feels good on the iPhone 5.

Here are some first impression from our iOS 7 hands-on:

  • The color palette is intense, and very different. The neon and pastel colors seem almost childish, but they also feel modern and unlike anything we’ve ever used before. At times our eyes feel discomfort when the neon green Phone icon seems to glow, but perhaps this is an intentional decision that we’ll come to enjoy once we have more time spent with iOS 7. 
  • The icons seem too simplistic. Settings, Safari, Camera, and other icons are so basic that it feels like a few steps back.
  • The use of gaussian blur is beautiful and creates a lovely layered effect in Control Center, the Notification Shade, and in other areas.
  • The built-in apps are remarkably minimal. Calendar, Email, Contacts, and even Settings seem to feel a bit more functional with less UI clutter. The new email app might be the nicest email app on any platform.
  • The multi-task UI is a step in the wrong direction.  Switching apps shouldn’t be a very graphical experience. It should be quick and efficient. Showing three app “cards” on the screen at once is not enough for the heavy multi-tasker.
  • Folders are incredible ugly with their gray rounded-square backgrounds. Like task-switching, folders should be quick and efficient.
  • The new back-gesture is very useful, allowing you to swipe from left to right to go to the previous screen. We wish iOS 7 had more gestures like this.

And there’s a lot of catch-up: graphical multi-tasking, quick-toggles, streaming radio, and even animated wallpapers are not new in the smartphone world. But overall, iOS 7 is enough to satisfy current iOS users, but Google and Microsoft must have reason to celebrate, because iOS doesn’t improve upon how we use our phones (both areas where Google and Microsoft are decidedly progressive). There’s no forward-thinking here in iOS 7. It’s just design. But, pretty good design if you don’t have a problem with bright neon colors and icons that look out of the 90s.

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