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iOS 7: the first 14 days

7+7

It’s been roughly two weeks since iOS 7 hit our iDevices. Eschewing a regular review, I’ve decided to cobble together a random number of stream-of-consciousness paragraphs to describe how I feel about it so far.  Remember, this isn’t a comprehensive review, but rather my garbled, non-sequential, possibly incoherent thoughts on Apple’s biggest design change to iOS in years.

Dude, where’s my phone?

On 18 Sept, I left my device plugged into the wall downloading the new iOS update. 25 minutes later I return to find my iPhone gone, and a Fisher Price ‘My First Smartphone’ in its place.  iOS was getting long in the tooth in terms of design, I get that, but the result of the big redesign is too flat, too simplistic, and…my word, the colours! Somebody turn them down! My eyes are bleeding!

Johnathan Ive must’ve spent several days at an Andy Warhol exhibition supping from a bottle of the finest paint stripper before getting to work on this.  I’m now embarrassed to pull my iPhone out in public in case people think I accidentally brought my 6 month old son’s toy phone to work. On the plus side, I’m never going to forget what the primary colours look like. GREEN is GREEN is GREEN, damnit!

It took me several hours to work out how to…

…kill apps. Yeah, not minutes, hours.  I ‘m not ashamed. I don’t need to go Googling stuff to find out how it works, I just swipe and tap in every conceivable direction before throwing my phone at the television in a fit of pique, then Googling it.

Thankfully though, the new method of swiping up to get rid of open apps is much more intuitive. I hated that little cross in the corner of each icon, especially as half the time I’d have to tap more than once before it registered. Swiping up makes you feel like you’re actually chucking each app away like Tony Stark does with his holographic display in the Iron Man movies. And anything that makes you feel like Tony Stark is COOL.

These new icons are…

…horrible. I know Apple weren’t too sweet on skeuomorphism any longer (and let’s be honest, it was getting ridiculous. I hear there was a since-scrapped update to iBooks that would’ve allowed you to fold the corners of each page over to use as a bookmark), but talk about going from one extreme to the next, anyone with an A4 scrapbook and set of Crayolas could come up with better than this in 15 minutes.

The Facetime app resembles a muscular fish, they still can’t get the Game part of Game Center right (bubbles, I ask you. BUBBLES?), and News Stand has instantly become one of those stock apps you’ll never open again because the icon offends your very soul. (It’s that deep).  Sometimes less is more, but sometimes less is also just less.

The iBooks thing was a joke by the way.

However I like the way you can…

…now swipe down on any homepage to activate spotlight. This will no doubt prove to be especially useful for people too lazy to create folders for their apps, and as a result had to scroll through fourteen pages of icons just so they could search for that obscure 1983 hit by Dexy’s Midnight Runners they hadn’t listened to for three years.

Not everyone likes the…

…new animations. The way the screen looks like it’s going to jump out and smack you in the face when you switch apps is all very Sky Sports, and there have been reports of people with motion sickness related conditions  suffering from dizziness and nausea, although it’s not confirmed who was actually suffering from a legit medical condition, and who just really didn’t like that News Stand icon.

But in the thankful absence of any such ailments, I can appreciate the small, subtle touches – the red notification circles that now bubble into existance like your app has suddenly had an idea of its own and the new animation which reveals more of the app’s icon as it downloads from the store. Even the most minute of effects such as the way your wallpaper appears in the background of your app folder as if you’re peering at it through frosted glass are neat.

One person I spoke to described they whole thing as a bit ‘swooshie’. I think that’s a fantastic new word, but apparently he didn’t mean it in a nice way.

I’m very impressed by the…

…new photo arrangement. Trying to find a specific photo on your phone was nigh-on impossible before iOS7, but now with your saucy snaps automatically sorted by year, month, week and location as soon as you take them, that herculean task becomes a much more manageable ‘slightly impossible’, which yes, is a real term.

Your photos now appear as tiny thumbnails grouped by location which you can search by dragging your finger over the screen. It’s not foolproof, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to find what you’re looking for (and in an alarming number of cases on my phone, what you’re not looking for as well). Apparently I was in Eastbourne three weeks ago wearing a rather fetching pair of orange socks…and nothing else. Who knew?

If anyone does know, please delete the evidence. It’s a lot easier now.

And finally, the most important feature…

A spirit level! Who says Apple is losing its touch?

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