There are advantages to being married to an app developer… I mean, I suppose he could have put iOS 7 on his phone, but it IS a beta version after all. What if there were a major, major problem at the office and his phone randomly decided to stop ringing? I mean, it’s a beta! You never know what interesting problems you will encounter when installing a beta version of any OS. My wonderful husband had just pushed an app update out for his flagship app and since that app is now making money and paying for his developer account, and we have handed down our previous test devices to our college age children for their daily use, it just made sense that he use my phone as a test device. I have the internet. There are a million ways to get in touch with me that do not require my iPhone, besides I wanted to write this blog post. I’m really excited about iOS 7 and I haven’t been this excited about an iOS update since iOS 5. I guess it’s true that I could have written this blog post without sacrificing my iPhone 4S to the whims of fresh code, but really, where’s the fun in that?
I have some brilliant ideas for my wonderful husband and his Apps now. The fit and finish of this new version of iOS is definitely inspiring. I have a lovely idea for Sodium Tracker that I’m trying to figure out how to persuade the hubby to implement. I think he’s still thinking about it, in that way that he does, where he wanders around for three days and then, when you’re sitting there talking about unrest in the middle east and national health care, he suddenly says, “I’ll be right back” and disappears into his office for the next six hours. So I’m hoping that he emerges with this beautiful concept that I had in mind, if he does, you can thank me later.
Really, the most amazing thing about iOS 7 is that it’s a completely different experience from iOS 6, but it maintains the functionality of iOS 6, without looking anything like it at all. I think I can use that description for almost everything that’s changed here. It looks totally different, but it works just the same. The settings menus are right where I left them in iOS 6. They are cleaner and beautifully polished, but they still do the same stuff. The trademark grid of icons is still here and will always be here, because it’s iOS but the icons are flat now, a little retro looking actually, but that doesn’t diminish their vibrance. The solutions within iOS for every day things have always been elegant in their simplicity. It’s one of the hallmarks of Apple’s software and hardware design. I wasn’t a fan of the new lock screen at first, but now, after using it, I find that there is value and beauty in it which is something that I’m finding that I can say about every corner of this lovely little beta. The annoying bar is missing from the “slide to unlock” indicator on the lock screen. Now, you can slide pretty much where ever you want on the screen and it will unlock. It seems to me that iOS 7 relies much more heavily on gestures, or at least, it’s much more natural to use them than previous versions. The gestures were in place in many situations in iOS 6, but they didn’t feel organic to me. Now, they do.
I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I think iOS 7 is beyond gorgeous.
One of the features that I love most is Control Center. Visually, when you pull up the control center, it overlays itself on top of whatever app you’re using at the time, so you don’t forget what you were doing before and lose track of your work flow. It’s nice to finally have quick access to shutting off my bluetooth and to not have to stop and think, “What was I doing? Oh! Yeah! I was texting my mom.” Also, farewell flashlight apps! I appreciate all of the assistance you have given me in finding my Labradors in the dark over the years, but now with a swipe and a touch, I can activate the LED on the back of my iPhone whenever I need to. It also gives you quick access to “Do Not Disturb,” Airplane Mode, Orientation Locking, Brightness, your music player, the Air Play button and the camera, clock and calculator. Thank you Apple for giving iPhone users access to this swiss army knife of screens. Handy dandy, indeed!
I could also go on and on about how much I love what they’ve done with the messages app. Please Android, feel free to copy Apple’s smart phone messaging app, again. You’ll be doing everyone a favor. This thing is lovely. The keyboard feel is a tad different than from iOS 6, but that’s not a bad thing. If anything, it feels more responsive. The messaging app looks fantastic. It’s still clear when you’re sending an iMessage and an SMS, but it’s definitely quicker. The look is completely different from what we were used to in iOS 6, and yet it still manages to maintain the original functionality of the messaging app. I found myself focusing less on whether my texts had been sent and more on the other things I was doing with my evening besides texting and this app does this while being positively beautiful about it, but this iOS update is more than just a pretty face.
I played around with iTunes Radio last night and my husband leaned over my shoulder, took one look at it and said, “Oh boy. That’s going to cost me some money.” He’s absolutely right! I found a station that was tuned to my eclectic musical tastes right from the off. I didn’t have to create one! It was already there! The first five songs it played were off of albums that I already own, which just shocked me. I mean, really, how many people actually own copies of “Fruit” by the Asteroids Galaxy Tour, let alone have ever heard it outside of a Heineken commercial? When it came upon songs that I hadn’t already purchased from iTunes, it offered me the ability to do so right there within the app. Yeah, that could get expensive. If Apple figures out how to make an iTunes Radio for iBooks, my husband and I will be flat broke.
Multitasking is now much more gorgeous and Mac-ish with a Cover Flow type of display that allows you to see a little screen cap of what you were working on last in that app when you last opened it. So it’s terribly useful, in addition to looking good. I haven’t played around with the new camera app much, but it does look cleaner and it seems to be a bit quicker too. The new Safari is incredible. It really gives you a seamless web surfing experience that makes me forget that I’m doing all of that reading on an iPhone. If this is an indication of what we’re going to see when the new Safari for Mac is released, then I am so there! I also love the added security features of iCloud Keychain and Find my iPhone. I do feel like Apple added these things in response to the recent calls from congress asking smart phone makers to help consumers protect their data and their devices a bit more efficiently, but no matter. Apple does it in a way that I find myself thinking I can use.
And finally, may I just say: NEW SIRI: WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL OF MY LIFE!?
Sadly, I am unable to talk to you about Air Drop, because I have an iPhone 4S and this feature only works on the iPhone 5, iPad Mini, 5th generation iPod Touch and 4th generation iPad.
There’s only one problem remaining.
I’ve hit the end of what I can talk about. There are some cool things that I can’t talk to you about. I can only talk to you about the features that Apple has already announced to the public. Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Awww man! But I wanted to know if it has unannounced features!” Well, yes, but this is a developer beta. I’ve got this thing on my phone so hubby can test his apps against iOS 7 and have them totally iOS 7 compatible the day that it’s launched to the general public, without having to worry about his phone getting all jacked up. Even if I did answer those questions, it’s likely that the reason that Apple chose not to release those details, is because they may, or may not end up in the final version of iOS 7. The features they’ve revealed, are simply the ones that are guaranteed to stay.
There are some questions that I can answer now though.
It will run on your iPhone 4. If you have an iPhone 3GS, I’m sorry, you’re out of luck. There is only one current generation specific feature that I’m aware of and that’s the aforementioned Air Drop. It’s not so different that you’re going to think, “Oh! I can’t stand this!” unless you really just don’t like how it looks and if that’s so, then you have no taste. I feel like I should apologize for saying that, but really, hrm… nope, I’ve thought about it. If you don’t like the new look, no taste.
The list of new features that Apple has made available to the public can be found here: http://www.apple.com/ios/ios7/features/
If you have any other questions about the beta version of iOS 7, feel free to post them in the comments.