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iOS 7 Beta: A First Look


Initial impressions of iOS 7 Beta

ios 7 flat icons

The new “flat” design icons of iOS 7.

I just missed a call, but the caller left a voicemail. Because I’ve been on iOS 7 Beta since it was launched, I’ve got a system to retrieve my message:  open phone app, hit home button to get out of phone app, open phone app again, wait 13 seconds until it freezes and crashes and then reopen one last time and BAM! now I can check my voicemail. Yes, we iOS 7 beta testers play a sort of technological Indiana Jones, crunching across a virtual bug-infested cave and reaching into a hole where our arms are coated with overgrown insects, just to use our phones.  However, I feel that when iOS 7 graduates beta, we’ll all enjoy using this iOS, an operating system coursing with the power of all five Sankara stones.

Despite the bugs, iOS 7 is the best OS Apple has engineered yet.  The new fluid motion between all apps is a visual delight.  Major apps—Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Safari, iTunes & Phone—all received upgraded functions. New controls that help us manage our device’s features also  increase ease and efficiency of use. The changes are so dramatic that I’d choose a glitchy iOS7 over a smooth functioning iOS6 any day.

iOS 7 has been under the gun for allegedly nabbing Android OS elements, as well as not being very intuitive. I agree that Apple has taken on a great deal of other companies’ features and put the Apple spin on them. The Android community shuns them for it, Microsoft takes a jab at features they feel are inadequate and the Apple user community seems rather content with their existing iOS devices-sometimes arguing back as they often think themselves superior. We all know that Apple has proven themselves as an innovative company, and there’s no doubt that they have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves. This round, they’re catching up with the competition.  It is very probable that they’re simply setting themselves up for a pretty big come back.

On to the iOS!

There are a great deal of design differences.  I’m neutral on the new fonts (see: calendar, email, notes and most Apple apps), which feature lots of black and white, as well as the new “flat”  icon designs.  It’s the visual nature of how these icons flow, with backgrounds that move as I move my phone, the text bubbles that bounce around, and all these kinds of motion designs that I find most enjoyable to interact with.  Here’s some features that I have found to be a major upgrade to iOS.  Android users: you may feel compelled to comment about how you already have some of these features. Go on, I can take it.

  1. Control Center:  The most functional new feature that you’ll use daily.  From the home screen, swipe from the bottom of the screen up and you will pull up a new screen called Control Center which gives you instant access to your most-used settings. For example:  When I get in my car, I pull up control center, tap on the WiFi icon to turn it off, tap on the Bluetooth icon to turn it on, slide my brightness bar to the fullest and then swipe the control center away.  As I drive, I’ll return to this screen to change iTunes tracks that i’m playing as I drive.  Airplay controls, calculator, flashlight, airplane mode, do not disturb, rotation lock, camera, timer and AirDrop features also live here.
  2.  iMessage & Calendar relationship: If i send an iMessage to my friend Easy-C: “Hey broseph, you going to Sony’s volume knob release party on Friday?” he will see that the word Friday is underlined and he can tap it to have this event instantly added to his calendar.
  3. Siri:  Siri is one of Apple’s iPhone’s most amazing technologies.  It’s now more effective than before and searches more sources, and the UI received a design makeover. For all you Siri haters: “What can you do” will still pull up the on screen menu so you can learn how to use Siri instead of just bashing the technology because you don’t know what you’re doing.
  4.  iTunes Radio:  Didn’t think I’d care much about this feature.  With so much competition in the streaming audio market I thought for sure that this feature would underwhelm, especially compared to  Spotify & Pandora. However, I was surprised mainly by how good the content is on the offered genre playlists. I got hooked on listening once I started playing.  The interface is perfect.   It’s also so nicely embedded in the control center and lockscreen that it does indeed show off the iOS.  Now that I’ve had a chance to see it live here in beta, I am thoroughly impressed and interested to see how it evolves.  Apple being successful with a new music software?…I doubted this why?
  5. Camera:  Where did this speed come from?  Taking a picture (with your HDR on!) is like blinking.  iOS6 and prior versions sat around for a while saving both images slowing us down.  Pano mode doesn’t tell me to slow down either.  I can whiz across a scene and capture cool panoramic shots.  Speed is the main thing here for me.  So many occasions call for us to grab our Smartphone and use it as a camera.  I want that solution to be fast to get to (swiping up from lock screen is super smooth) and quick to the pic (like iOS7 gives us).  The other new feature is the addition of creative tools like “filters,”  that it seems every smart phone on the market wants to give you.  I blame Instagram for this movement, and honestly am not crazy about these creative add-ons.    I still think that third party apps will always give you a more robust and fun way to get more creative with taking pictures than anyone’s built in fun options.
ios 7 control panel

The new iOS 7 Control Panel.

Well, that’s the scoop.  Missed a bunch of calls and will have to go struggle though getting to my voicemail now.  I hope I get there in time because my iPhone 5 battery is at 6% from its 100% 5hrs ago.  Still, I’m not interested in reverting back to iOS 6. I can deal with the lumps while looking forward to the glorious finished product. I’m pretty sure a lifetime as a Cubs fan has conditioned me to be able to withstand beta testing with a smile.

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