What does iOS 7 hold out for users? Here are some of its noteworthy features

If you’re reading this and are an iPhone or iPad user, chances are that you’ve already downloaded Apple’s latest operating system, iOS 7, even if your device just barely made the cut in terms of hardware requirements. We’ll get to performance issues on older devices in a bit, but overall, iOS 7 brings a lot of interesting (mostly positive) additions to the platform, including iTunes Radio, instant camera filters, Control Center, instant search bar, FaceTime audio, multiple app killing (all it takes is a three-finger upward swipe after double-tapping the home button), call blocking, and something iDevice owners will be thankful for: ability to place the Newsstand app in a folder! There’s a lot to be excited about, but let’s go over some of the annoyances, and one potentially dangerous (and easily exploitable) security flaw in the operating system.

The infamous lock screen hack

Here’s a tip: always close your camera app because it’s pretty easy to bypass iOS 7’s password-protected lock screen. If your camera app is running and Control Center is enabled (yes, you can turn it off if you wish or disable it on the lock screen), open up the alarm app, and while holding down the power button, hit cancel when prompted and double-tap the home button to access the multitasking screen. From here, you can open up the camera app and get complete, unhindered access to the phone’s photos, connected e-mail, Twitter, Facebook accounts as well as other apps that interface with the camera. Shocking, isn’t it?

Too much white?

If you like the colour white, you’re probably in love with iOS 7, but you can’t help but feel that Apple has overdone it just a little bit. Yes, it looks great most of the time, and stays in tune with the company’s design philosophy, but I really wish there was an option to invert the colours. Apps such as iBooks, Kindle, Feedly allow theme switching for use in darkness, greatly alleviating eye strain, while Windows Phone lets you pick from a “light” and “dark” theme (e-mail insists on running with a white background, however). The auto-brightness feature, to its credit, adjusts the colour and brightness levels based on ambient light, but a theme-switch option (however unlikely) would be a welcome addition.

A question of consistency

I might be a fan of the new flat icons and design minimalism, but there is an unhappy bunch out there. For whatever reason, Apple seems to think these are the same people who use Podcasts and iBooks a lot, and has inadvertently kept them happy by not updating select native apps, which continue to feature the same icons and design. Even Game Center has replaced its felt theme with bubbles (not necessarily a ground-breaking improvement), but iBooks still has those faux wooden shelves from 2010. Yes, a minor update is surely forthcoming, but it’s strange that Apple didn’t roll out the new OS with updated first-party apps on day one.

The iPad and performance issues

iOS 7 looks great on the iPad as well, but if you’ve got an older generation model, chances are that you will be hit by performance issues. On a 3rd Generation iPad running Apple’s A5X processor, performance, while acceptable, is nowhere close to even an iPhone 5 powered by an A6. Older models of both the iPad and iPhone are barely usable, with sluggish animation and lack of touch response being the major culprits. This is not surprising by any means — rollouts of previous operating systems have yielded similar results, while this is clearly not just an Apple-specific issue. Try installing Windows 8 on the PC you bought in 2009, for instance.

There are other smaller annoyances as well — removing bookmarks from Safari is not intuitive, an option to multi-task on the iPad sans previews would have been nice (now there’s a lot of wasted real estate on app previews), and AirDrop is ultimately underwhelming while only being supported on iPhone 5 or newer models. Overall, however, the positives more than make up for very minor annoyances (unless you’re not a fan of the direction taken by Apple in terms of design), but the security exploit needs to be fixed immediately.