Operating systems: they’re fairly integral now to our everyday lifestyles! Fiona Potigny brings us her opinions of the recent iOS7 from Apple…
Simple, suave, sophisticated. If you’ve got those three s’s right, you’ve got me sold. Anything too showy, too bold, or too colourful and I begin to feel that familiar tinge of “happiness nausea” I get when I spy the not-so-dulcet sounds of Glee on the box (no offence, fans).
It is for this reason that when I saw the first leaked images of Apple’s iOS7 upgrade that my heart instantly sank. Gone was the familiar business-style look I had coveted so dearly when making the decision to make the Android-Apple conversion, only to be replaced by something that wouldn’t look out of place aimed at the children’s toy market.
Perhaps I was being a tad cynical. Besides, I can always change the background, I reasoned. And so, with a more open mind, I made the jump and clicked “Install Now”, wondering why Apple had capitalised the “Now” – but hey ho.
Despite Apple’s claim that iOS7 constitutes a complete “overhaul” and brings a “fresh perspective”, it has to be said that aside from the loss of a few gradients and drop shadows, the familiar iOS experience remains intact. Grid menu – check, swipe left and right – check, but what’s this? Swipe up for “Control Centre”? Yes, Apple has finally corrected the minor bane of having to enter “settings” for WiFi, Bluetooth (if anyone still uses that), and Airplane Mode. This is most definitely a welcome addition, and it’s good to see that Apple’s software developers have finally cottoned on to the utility of this standard Android feature. Yet more useful, however, is the addition of a Flashlight button – finally we don’t have to rely on an app! – and the new additions of Airplay and Airdrop.
Technological dinosaurs will be reminded of the feature on the ultimate flop known as the Microsoft Zune. In short, Airdrop allows users to share content via WiFi. This is indeed helpful as it removes the faff of using email attachments or Bluetooth, though hardly seems worthy of acclaim by way of innovation. More disappointing however, is the fact that this feature is only available on the iPhone 5 and upwards. Though these iPhones do include a better WiFi card, it is hard to reason why this feature cannot be included on the 4 and 4S given that access to WiFi is the only real pre-requisite for its enabling.
Camera & Photos
It has to be said: the new camera is incredibly slick. Fiddly setting toggles are no longer an issue, as it takes but a swipe to change mode from video, to photo, to panorama, and to square – the square option being Apple’s answer to Instagram. Predictably, this also means filters. Though lacking the choice that Instagram provides, the option to place a filter on the photo before it is taken is a handy one.
After having taken the photo, you will be able to relocate it in the new album system of Collections (a trip abroad, for example), Moments (photos organised by location or time), and Years (you can probably work that one out). This is a breath of fresh air in terms of photo retrieval. No longer is it necessary to spend hours tracing that photo of a housemate disgracing themselves at Cheesey’s last year from the chaotic archives of the old Camera Roll. Just simply find “Arena” under the Moments tab, and there it will be, ready for diffusion into the Facebook world.
Our ever faithful friend, always there with a poem, joke, or consolatory comment when we’re lonely, bored, or – most probably – drunk, Siri has also seen a change. Luckily, this has been for the better. The audio waves are an elegant touch, and it is a relief not to be taken to an external Safari page only to be told that there are no search results.
Most web browsers had already adopted Chrome’s multifunctional address and search bar, so it is a wonder that Apple took so long to create its own. Nevertheless, this, the new self-hiding buttons and bars, and the aesthetically revamped tabs section serve to make the browsing experience all the more pleasant.
I am sure that I am not the only one who is glad to see the back of the previous “skeuomorphic” design (i.e. apps resembling what they represent). Though I had a certain sentimental attachment to the look of “Notes”, which has luckily maintained a slight grainy feel, Calendar and worst offender “Games” with its casino-esque vibe were frankly cringe-inducing. Nonetheless, cringe-inducing has been replaced with nausea-inducing thanks to the parallax backgrounds, which move as you do. In fact, many users have reported a feeling similar to sea sickness after continual usage. Not ideal.
It’s the little things
Whilst I may be cynical of Apple’s attempted branding of essentially banal features as innovative or technologically ground-breaking, there are various little things that do raise a small smile. The preview of open apps is a dream. Actually seeing that half-written email you had open is a reminder to finish it, rather than to unthinkingly close the app in an attempt to conserve battery. The way in which it is now possible to physically bounce up the camera from the lock screen instils within me a childlike excitement, whilst the transparency of the layered apps is, in my opinion, quite beautiful.
Overall, the predominant theme of the new iOS is echoes: echoes of Zune, of Instagram, of and of course, Android. It’s kind of like that one friend who goes through a teenage identity crisis and wants to be everything and everyone at once. It’s just not being true to itself. It just doesn’t feel “Apple”.
So whilst I can safely say that I am appreciative of the helpful yet subtle new additions to iOS7, I would be lying to say that I am genuinely impressed by the new features over which Apple has made such fanfare. Android users will probably express a certain smugness when confronted with Apple aficionados applauding new features with which they had already been long-time acquainted. As a result, they will likely remain firmly Team Android, while Apple users will be happy enough with the new innovations to remain loyal to Steve Jobs’ creation.
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