Apple's re-designed iOS 7 has been winning rave reviews not just from fans but also from the developer community, writes Karthik Subramanian
For more than a year now, plenty of questions have been raised about Apple's mobile operating system iOS 7. The Windows phone had a better looking user interface, Android had more user-friendly features and BlackBerry's OS 10 was more modern.
When Apple combined the forces of two of its iconic leaders — Jony Ive and Craig Federighi handling the user-interface design and software engineering fronts, respectively — for its latest iteration of its mobile platform the iOS 7, a lot was expected. So when iOS 7 was finally made available to the public on September 18, there was a huge Twitter storm and a flurry of first-person accounts. There were the usual “wows” from Apple fans, ‘yeah yeahs’ from the Android faithfuls and silence from Windows Phone users.
As was promised earlier this year at the WWDC, Apple's developer conference where iOS beta was unveiled to developers, the latest version of iOS is not just an incremental upgrade but a complete revamp of the mobile OS by Apple. The striking aspect that almost all users seem to love is the minimalism and flatness of the design that reflects the hardware philosophy that has been Ive's forte for years.
But it is not just the feel-good factor but the way “things work,” as explained in Apple's iOS 7 introductory video. Ive explains it: “In many ways, we have tried to create an interface that is unobtrusive and deferential. One where the design recedes, and in doing so, elevates your content.”
Popular technology magazine Wired quotes a leading designer saying that iOS 7 could possibly lead to a new generation of Apps based on this new philosophy of pushing content to the fore.
Further, the iOS reboot comes at an interesting time. In 2007, when Apple introduced the iPhone and with it the iOS operating system, it was catching up with BlackBerry. But over the past seven years, Apple has changed its game. The reboot now comes at a time when Android has closed in and Blackberry has almost faded out.
Though Microsoft's Windows Phone interface looked good a year ago, the company has hardly breached Apple's fortress. The Windows phones seem to be doing quite well, but I have heard from friends who are still not able to completely understand the UI. The learning curve with a Windows phone is pretty steep and it is not just the users who are finding the going tough. Top Apps are unable to crack the OS. Under such circumstances, it now seems a two-horse race between iOS and Android, which for its part has teased users with its next OS — the Android Kitkat — almost immediately after the iOS 7 launch.
There are many interesting features of the iOS 7 that make it user-friendly: a new control centre that makes it easy for people to access most-used settings such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi (this has been available on Android and jailbroken iPhones for a long time now and has been a most-wanted feature); a completely revamped Camera App that offers a new 'square mode' and live filters while shooting; a new Photos App that bunches up photos based on date and location; and a revamped Safari web browser that allows unlimited tabs that can be browsed on a cover-flow like set-up.
But there are, of course, some things that don't gel well too. A few of the icons rather tacky. The new font — the Helvetica Ultra Neue — is a lot thinner and lighter than what was seen before. This can be tough on people with vision problems or among senior users. There is a provision to improve things but that is buried in the options available in the settings under the “accessibility” options. But it requires tweaking. One can increase the size of the font, make it bold, and even increase the contrast to make things more legible.
Hidden Features of iOS 7
1. You can block calls from specific numbers — telemarketers or generally annoying persons. Once you get a call or message, just press 'i' (info) on the number and click 'block this caller' option.
2. Bothered by accidentally sweeping up the ‘control center’ while playing games? Just go to Control Center options, and disable “access within Apps”.
3. Unable to see the fonts and content clearly. Go to ‘accessibility’ option under general settings. Increase font size, screen contrast, etc.
4. Share content such as photos with other compatible Apple gadgets via ‘Airdrop’. No need for Bluetooth.
5. You can select the notifications you want to see on the lock screen. Pick and choose wisely the most important alerts such as Email or WhatsApp.