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iOS 7 review

Sabyasachi Biswas September 25 | Updated on September 26, 2013

The home screen of an Apple Inc. iPhone 5 operating iOS 6, left, and an iPhone 5C operating iOS 7 is displayed in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. Buying memory to store more photos, videos and applications on a smartphone costs most consumers about $50. For Apple Inc. customers, it costs four times more than that. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg   -  Bloomberg

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I’ll join in the chorus when I say that iOS 7 is the most significant update for all of Apple’s mobile devices in recent times. Because though iPhone 5S and 5C are the latest devices, iOS 7 is the thing that’s going to make them look new. In fact, this latest OS update actually makes older devices feel totally new as well.

“So why the huge ruckus over iOS 7,” you ask? Every OS update for iPhone, iPad and iPods since 2007 has always brought at least a couple of new features to the table. But the big deal here, then, is the fact that this is actually the biggest cosmetic makeover that iOS has ever gone through.

It is only when you look deep into the new operating system, you realise, that all the discussions about “change” and “innovation” aside, this is Apple keeping up with the times.

Magical makeover

As far as the cosmetic changes are concerned, let me put it this way – if you’ve been using iOS for a long time now, and haven’t seen the beta screenshots from WWDC, you are most likely to be in disbelief over the fact that this is iOS, after all. The visual changes are striking. The complete makeover includes new system typography, system icon shapes, flatter looks on the icons and apps, but a radical new floating 3D effect for the icons on the Home Screen, and well, the new elements too.

The colours are brighter, bolder and to be honest, very refreshing. Safari, Mail, Reminders, Notes, Game Center, iTunes, App Store and even Music apps bear a completely new look. And it’s the ‘new’ that you’d associate with cleaner lines and more breathing space between elements. In fact, the icons inside Safari, Mail, and Music scream minimalist design influence.

It goes without saying that the new look, like everything that’s bold and new, takes time getting used to. The new transparency effects and brighter colours and bolder lines make iOS 6 look really dated. The difference is as stark as keeping a Honda NSX Concept next to a 67 Buick Skylark.

Not everyone might like the frosted glass look, or the floating apps – some may even call it pointless. But hey, it’s time the change came around, considering how pretty some Android UIs have come to be (check out HTC One, you’ll know what I’m talking about).

Enchanting features

Remember the time when I said that iOS 7 makes even some of the older Apple devices feel as if they’re spanking new? It’s not just because of a complete cosmetic makeover – the new features also change the entire iPhone or iPad experience.

To start with, there's the whole new Control Center, that can be revealed by swiping from the bottom of the screen. Well, not whole new, per se, if you consider Android in the picture too - they've had this on almost all of their UIs (stock as well as customised), but new for Apple nonetheless. You get all your frequently used control options, such as WiFi, Bluetooth, brightness, volume, music player controls, and for the newer devices (iPhone 5 and above and iPad 4th gen and iPad Mini) AirDrop control. This was much needed, as on iOS 6 and before, users had to go through a few screens to get into the actual control toggles.

The Notification Center is also revamped. The fact that it gives you weather info and upcoming events makes it more helpful than ever. Multitasking now involves more swipe gestures, and Spotlight can be revealved by swiping down anywhere on the screen. All in all, the entire experience of using iOS is now different. A good different, if I may add.

One of the most interesting tweak, however, remains the camera. At least for the iPhone, the camera app seems to have taken a leaf out of Instagram's book. And the Photos app just got way more organised. There may be some battery and performance issues for older devices, and there would, of course, be a slight learning curve.

So, magical?

When Steve Jobs gave the world the first iPhone, we all went oohing and aahing, and for good reason too. It was pretty, functional, and most of all, an innovation.

iOS 7 is very pretty and functional as per the times, but it most definitely is not an innovation. Features, such as the Control Center, the new camera tweaks and the minimalist UI design, have been around on Androids for some time now.

That said, iOS 7 makes using the iPhone or iPad more intersenting, engaging and refreshing.

Love - New design elements, Control Center, Notification Center,

Hate - Some previous generation devices (iPad 3, iPhone 4S) have battery issues, iPads have become slightly sluggish

sabyasachi.b@thehindu.co.in

Published on September 23, 2013

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