We recently published a gallery of mockup images and some expectations for what we were looking for in iOS 7. Now we already know what’s coming now that iOS 7 has been announced— at least some of the new features — and it’s time for some reflection.
We haven’t used the operating system just yet, a beta version will be available for developers soon but the rest of us need to wait until this fall for the full release. Still, we do know what’s available: a complete UI design overhaul, a new notification center, better multitasking, improved Siri, AirDrop support, a control center for easily changing settings, improved Safari and more. So, is this what we’ve been waiting for?
I think so, yes, though the design may not be for everyone. It comes down to user functionality, and that seems to have been the prime focus of Jony Ive and his team in iOS 7. The focus on improving what already existed was key: introducing too many “new” features could easily scare away users. Now they’ll just see an improved interface. Here’s an example: you can multitask in iOS 6, but it doesn’t look great. Now, in iOS 7, the function to multitask is still the same—tap the home button twice—but the user experience is better. Open applications are alive, show a preview of what was last open, and can easily be swiped away to close out. It’s just as easy before but looks better.
The same goes for the notification shade, which provides more detailed information about what’s been coming into your inbox, or your calendar events, or messages. It looks cleaner and is easier to navigate, but it’s not harder to use. The control center is amazing: you don’t have to dig through apps to get to settings and then to adjust the display brightness. Simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen and you can manage your Bluetooth connections, activate a flashlight function, switch to your camera and much more. Sure, we’ve seen this in Android through the same notification shade, but it’s finally available for iOS.
I like the new design language. Fonts look amazing —though I’m sad we still don’t get real widgets and the icons are a little colorful — and everything looks cluttered, but I know that design is an art and that everyone has their own opinions. We clearly can’t all agree on what we love, otherwise we’d have peace on earth, right? Still, I think it’s a step in the right direction, especially if Apple wants people to understand that there’s something very new about iOS 7. Had it looked the same as iOS 6, though with the added new features, it wouldn’t seem as drastic of a boost.
I’m excited to use iOS 7. From the improved iMessage experience to the new photo albums and the improved mail app, there’s a lot to like and it’s clearly a nice jump in the right direction. Now let’s see how smoothly it runs and what Apple has up its sleeves next. We know that this is just a taste of the full functions, and I expect that the iPhone 5S will offer support for some areas of iOS 7 that won’t be available to other devices.
For that, however, we’ll need to wait until Apple’s next big event… likely sometime this fall.