iOS 7–my first impressions

First as a disclaimer, I’ve been a user of iOS products (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch) since the first iPhone was released in 2007.  I’ve spend a fair bit of my own money on devices, apps, and media for this platform.

I waited with baited breath to see what WWDC would bring with respect to iOS 7.  Of course the rumor mill was ablaze with about a heavily revamped user interface.  Now that dust has settled, and many opinions have been rendered.  The only way to see what the real deal is, is to actually get some hands-on time.

I first tried to install iOS 7 on my iPod Touch device I have for testing – but that didn’t work because it’s a 4th generation, not 5th generation device.  I dug out a iPhone 4 used for testing, downloaded the image file, and about 30 minutes later had an iOS 7 device ready to preview. 

My very first impression when I hit the home screen was “hmmm…that’s….colorful”.  Perhaps it’s the default wallpaper, but this candy-coating is quite different from the typically darker shades that iOS has been using.  WP_20130612_002

I go through the stock apps, and check out the new multitasking feature (seems familiar since I’ve been using a Windows Phone 8 device for a while now).  I’m realizing that this update isn’t a revolutionary new look at a mobile OS.  It’s really the same old iOS, with a hugely different skin on top of it.  Sure, there are new gestures, and features such as the control center, but this is not innovative stuff.  Honestly I can’t find one thing that isn’t on some other mobile platform either natively or as a third-party app.  I also expected to see a “Kids Corner” type of feature, such as Windows Phone 8 has, and perhaps that’s coming this fall, but it’s not in the beta build.  “Mommy, can I have your phone to play with?” still has the possibility of your child reading an email or seeing a text that their eyes should not see. 

Overall, I’m generally underwhelmed.  Maybe part of me was hoping to see something new and innovative that other platforms could then “borrow” from – to keep the industry moving forward, but this release doesn’t have anything that really stands out.  Perhaps they are going somewhere new with photo management.  On my phone I usually have a few thousand or more pictures, and being able to navigate through them more effectively would be a great feature. But that wouldn’t be enough to sway me to switch back to iOS. 

There has also been a lot of noise over the stealing of ideas from Windows Phone 8 and Android, and I think that’s all fair criticism.  But it’s also some level of validation that the concept of content over chrome is a good thing.  The design principles now touted by Apple are the same ones that Microsoft set forward in their Metro design language.  So while it’s easy to bash Apple for “stealing” ideas, they were in the position where they had to catch up to the modern interfaces set forth by WP8 and Android.  Will Apple next have a phone with a larger scale screen design because that is what consumers are demanding? 

In my opinion, Apple has a lot of work to do still.  This is a beta and there is still much fit, finish, and polish that needs to happen.  The iOS designers and engineers probably aren’t looking at much vacation this summer…

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