Apple’s New iOS is a Mixed Bag

Selina Koller

The iPhone and iPad’s newest update, iOS 7, was released on September 18. While highly anticipated, the update has received underwhelming reviews. However, iOS 7 is more aesthetically pleasing than former systems, and introduces new features that make the phone easier to use. I don’t have an iPad on which to test the system, but I am running iOS 7 on my iPhone 4S.

New features:

Control Center:Swiping up on any screen accesses Control Center. Airplane mode, wireless, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb mode and portrait orientation lock are accessible at the very top of the Control Center screen. I’ve found the Do Not Disturb mode useful, and this new feature makes it easier to use than in iOS 6. The Control Center also has a music panel, allowing you to skip songs or adjust the volume as easily as double-clicking the home button in iOS 6. Along the bottom is a flashlight, removing the need for a separate flashlight app, and direct links to the camera, calculator and clock apps – I haven’t used these much, but it’s better than searching for the separate apps.

Notifications:iOS 7 offers a new screen in Notifications: “Today.” This screen has an overview of Calendar events, in addition to weather, traffic and stock prices. At the bottom, there is a section that gives a quick overview of tomorrow’s events and any alarms set. If you use Calendar, this is a nice alternative to opening the app itself.

There is also a new “Missed” section. The main section, “All,” is as it was on iOS 6. All

notifications can be accessed from the lock screen, which is helpful.

Messages:The Messages app is largely the same, but has been redesigned so messages are easier to read and, in my opinion, the keyboard is easier to use. Swiping left on a certain message shows when it was sent. However, to delete or forward certain messages, which was easily done in iOS 6, you have to hold down on a message and then click “More,” from which you can delete or forward. It took me a while to figure out and doesn’t seem as instinctive as before.

iTunes Radio:Apple was missing a Pandora-like feature, and iTunes Radio is its answer. It works like Pandora, with pre-set stations, in addition to allowing you to make stations based on artist or song. This feature is also included in iTunes software updates. I haven’t found myself using iTunes Radio other than initially looking at it – if I want to use something like it, I may as well use Pandora.

On the iPhone, a list of songs is no longer one of the options across the bottom of the screen in iTunes – instead, you have to go over to “Other” to get a list of songs. I prefer scrolling through songs rather than artists, and I wish the song list were more prominent. 

Siri: In iOS 7, Siri is updated and no longer considered in beta version. I’ve hardly ever used Siri and I’m not inclined to use “her” now. She does seem to understand better than in iOS 6 (read: she hasn’t sent any random and/or embarrassing messages to the wrong contacts like before), but still couldn’t understand when I attempted more complicated requests.

FaceTime:A FaceTime app was added – I usually just FaceTime through contacts, so I don’t have use for this, but it could be useful on iPads or when only using wifi.

Appearance:The most notable change on iOS 7 is the appearance. Most app icons have been redone, though some look kind of tacky. Going from or to the home screen makes the apps sort of fly in or out in a 3D effect, which makes me a little dizzy.

Significant appearance changes were also made within most apps, and, while most work similarly, most look nicer and work more intuitively. For example, the camera screen’s layout is better and it’s easier to take videos. Mail especially looks cleaner and sharper, and contact details are laid out better.

However, on the lock screen, bars indicating service have been replaced with five circles, which I find harder to read at a glance.

On iOS 6, the time and date on the lock screen were set against black shading, making them really easy to read, but in iOS 7, this shading is removed and the font is finer. Depending on your background image, it could be difficult to read the time and date, which has been an issue for me.

Issues:

My biggest grievance is that battery life is significantly worse than with iOS 6, which is very disappointing and inconvenient – I can’t make it through most days without needing to recharge.

I’ve also found myself accidentally swiping up the Control Center and turning on the flashlight or music inadvertently, which has been awkward in more than one occasion. The screen unlocks more easily with an accidental swipe if you don’t have a password, so it seems iOS 7 is less sensitive.

I’ve experienced a few other kinks, like not receiving banners or notifications on the lock screen for messages for a few days or vibrating when notifications are supposed to be silent. Virtually none of my non-Apple apps have been updated for iOS 7, and a few times they’ve closed suddenly.

Also, actually downloading the update took literally hours, and required me to completely erase and then replace all my music to have room for it.

Prognosis:

Wait to get this update. Apple obviously still has some significant kinks to rectify, and, presumably, newer versions of iOS 7 will have fewer kinks than now. There are some great new features and the appearance is overall better, but right now, the significant issues outweigh

the advantages.

Contact Selina Koller at [email protected]