So… it’s here. iOS 7 has lumbered its way onto hundreds of thousands of iPhone and iPads all over the world — mine included. My iPad 2 may be slightly aging, but it still does the job for me. I’ve yet to find a compelling reason to upgrade to a more recent model, but the prospect of a major OS upgrade is always exciting.
I’d read great things about iOS 7 previously, but having never taken the step of jailbreaking my tablet, I had not been able to try it hands-on. The download from Apple’s servers was going to be my first proper experience of the update.
In all, the process took about 3 hours. I fared better than a lot of people, but I still experienced multiple failed downloads as everyone in the world (it seemed) tried to grab the update at the same time. Quite why the failed download had to start from scratch each time is beyond me, but if that’s the way it works, that’s the way it works.
So I now have an iPad 2 loaded with iOS 7. What do I think of it? Well, it’s early days, but my first impressions are far from good. It didn’t take long to come up with a list of 7 things I hate about iOS 7.
1. The beauty has gone from iOS. The word “beautiful” — which is attached to virtually anything Apple releases — does not apply here. I’m not anti-change, don’t get me wrong, but the system icons are just ugly. Inexcusably ugly. Crafted from a palate that is simultaneously garish and pastel — I don’t know how they did it! But it’s not just the icons… there’s just so much blank space! We’ve got all of these pixels, so why not fill them up with something useful?
2. iOS 7’s app switcher seems to have copied the method I had so much trouble with in Windows Phone 8. What was wrong with the old method? Double tap the home button and a handy list of recent apps adorned the bottom of the screen. This is still the case, but icons are now super spaced out so more swiping is needed to access apps that you used a while ago. The new switcher has introduced more work.
3. Accessing spotlight. Why change this?! I was perfectly happy with swiping from left to right on the homescreen and I’ve built up memory muscle. Now I need to remember to swipe down. But not from the top of the screen… oh no. From the MIDDLE of the screen on the homescreen. In what world does that make sense? This is a perfect example of change for the sake of change. What does a left to right swipe on the homescreen now do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. At the very least, the down-swipe-in-middle-of-homescreen could have been used to supplement the old method. Why replace it?
4. The keyboard. Still no swipe typing? And it’s huge! This might sound good, but the keyboard takes up half the screen (nearly) while actually featuring very few keys. And the lack of customization here is surprising. The iPad is marketed as a tool that can be used for everything. It certainly can’t be used for extended periods of typing — the keyboard is just too limited. Need to type the percentage symbol? Should be quick and easy, right? Nope. You first have to tap the .?123 key to switch to symbol mode. Then realize that the symbol you need isn’t there. So you tap the #+= button to switch to the second symbol mode. There’s little in the way of intelligent grouping here. The iOS keyboard is a law unto itself and stuck in the Dark Ages.
5. The camera app. There are just too few settings. And what the heck is the point of the square mode? The burst mode seems kind of pointless to me. There are going to be very few circumstances in which it is going to be possible to fire off series of rapid-fire shots without the pictures looking terrible — there just isn’t time for focusing.
6. Near Me in the App Store. Why would I care which apps have proved popular with people near to my current location? Why would this be useful? Apart from being in the same place, what are the chances of me having anything else in common with someone who just happens to be in my environs? Gimmicky and pointless.
7. The built in apps. You would think that Apple — no stranger to producing software — would be able to produce a halfway decent selection of built-in apps. But even though we’ve reached iOS 7 (yes, 7!), Apple’s own apps are still awful. The Notes app is a joke, the calendar little better. Apps such as the Clock — the Timer element in particular — just make such bad use of the available space. Reminders looks like it was designed in 1992. I could go on, but I feel I need to lie down.
It’s a shame. I dearly wanted to love iOS 7. The iPhone 5c and 5s announcements got me excited about Apple again — which is odd as many people were deriding the company for its lack of innovation. I was seriously considering getting back into the world of iPhone (it’s a while since I owned my 3GS), but I’m not sure I could live with the OS full time.
I may change my mind. The iPad 2 is currently serving as a testbed — I may grow to like it more over time, but at the moment iOS 7 turns me off just about as much as Windows Phone. I’m just glad I didn’t have to get tied into a 2-year contract to find out I didn’t like the OS!
My colleague Wayne Williams lists seven things he loves about iOS 7 here. If you’ve upgraded to the new OS, what’s your view of it? Do you love it, hate it, or are you undecided? Leave your comments below.
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