Last week Apple released the public version of iOS 7. I updated my iPad 3 and iPhone 4S that day. I wondered how they would handle the new OS being that they aren't the current generation models. But Apple advised that not only my generation of models could run it, but also the generation iPhone and iPad previous to mine would as well.
The first thing you notice is the UI (user interface) is drastically different than iOS 6 and all previous versions dating back to iOS 1. Many people felt it was too feminine looking or too childish/teenager-ish. Others didn't mind the look or embraced it. When I first saw it at the keynote of WWDC in June, I liked it. Not once did the thought cross my mind that it looked the way others saw it. I felt it was a nice refresh to a dated design and really made it stand out.
There are complaints about having too much white throughout areas of the OS and I do have to agree. The biggest area of white space is in the default Music app, especially on the iPad. You have everything you need to manage and play your music on the screen, but it just seems like they could have darkened it more or filled the space better. I wish I could offer a solution or advice on how to better handle it, but I really can't, except to say use a different color so it doesn't blind you. Otherwise, I don't mind the use of white throughout the rest of the OS.
I don't usually watch videos on the iPad or iPhone, in fact, I don't recall the last time I did. But I do know of an issue with the Videos app that I was trying to help someone with the other day. It seems that Apple changed the way purchased video content is displayed. It's now difficult, if not impossible to tell which videos are actually downloaded on the device from iCloud and which are not. The little icon for iCloud is present at all times and gives no indication of its download status of the video you're looking at in the list. This was also verified by the folks on iPad Today this week as well. Hopefully, Apple will fix this in a not too distant update.
The biggest concern I had was with battery drainage. It seems that every time we get a new release of iOS, there are initial battery drain problems. This time I was affected. I was losing between 10%-20% per hour at first on the iPhone and a noticeable amount on the iPad.
I went into the settings and disabled all sorts of stuff like , location services by app, then in whole. Bluetooth, which I never use and was turned on by default after the upgrade. I turned off the Parallax feature and used a static wallpaper over the new dynamic ones. I also turned off Background App Refresh per app and then as a whole. I let the battery drain all the way to about 20% and then charged it back up, restarted the devices and even reset the iPad to factory settings. Nothing really seemed to help. That is until I realized that with the upgrade, it also turned on auto-brightness. The auto-brightness was tuning the displays up much higher than I normally use them at - even up to 100% sometimes. Once I turned off the auto-brigtness and set it back down to 50%, where I always keep it, my battery usage went back to normal for me.
The Calendar app needs some attention in my opinion. I'm all for minimalism but I think they took too much out. I miss the month view split in half with a scrolling list at the bottom of the day's events. I hope they put that back.
The messages app is nice and there is a feature where you can swipe or slide to the left and see the time stamp on all messages. That's great, but even on a small iPhone 4S, there is plenty of room to see that displayed at all times. I think they should either do that, or give us an option to hide it or display it.
Probably one of the things I enjoy best are the new ring and text tones. For years, I always used the default tone sets that came on the phone. I think I bought one text tone for .99 cents at one time. I always used the 'Old Telephone' ringtone and the 'Tri-Tone' for texts. Now I am using 'Radiate' for the phone and 'Pulse' for the texts. I also use 'Auroa' for email. What I like best about these tones are that they're softer, if you will. The old telephone tone was just exactly like an old telephone sounds, but was always a 'hard' tone and would startle me when it sounded. Not only that, it was just the slightest bit stressful because it would startle me. With the new, softer tones, I don't get startled by the device going off and will reach for the phone without trepidation. I say that because it's usually work calling and something is broken!
I also like how when waking the display from sleep it sort of comes in and brightens more softly, rather than just going from off to on. It's now more gradual.
The Parallax feature is neat, I don't mind it now that I figured out it wasn't causing the battery issues. Though it does seem kind of gimmicky to me. All that I can tell it does, is to move the background a little bit as you move the device around. Turning it off seemed to make no difference in how the animations of icons and apps loading and unloading worked. So as far as I can tell, it's just the wallpaper.
I like the new control center feature and it's something people have wanted for a very long time. Apparently Android users have had this for a while. Some complain that Apple stole the idea from Google. They probably did. So what? It's a useful feature and if it works and someone else came up with the idea before Apple, I don't much care. I actually used the Flashlight feature from Control Center a few times already and I've never had one of the third-party flashlights apps before either. I like how AirPlay is built into it as well. At first, when I went to play some music, I was looking for the AirPlay button in the Music app and couldn't find it. I was getting frustrated for a minute until I discovered it in Control Center.
I like the new carrier signal strength dots better than the traditional bars. It actually makes it easier to see how much or little strength you have.
Siri is much improved and faster than before. I heard it's technically out of beta now, though I haven't confirmed that. The new UI for Siri is also much nicer.The best thing I like about the updated Siri is that you can launch apps, and not just Apple apps, but third-party apps as well. It can also read your email to you which it couldn't do before. In iOS 6, I would tend to use the Google Now app when I needed to do a query of something because it was faster than Siri. Now I'm going back to Siri for more stuff. Plus they updated Siri with more witty answers to silly questions. While it's gimmicky some people say, I think it's neat and a fun thing to use to entertain yourself or have fun with others while goofing around.
Deleting an app from the multitasking screen is much nicer. It's easier to do by double-tapping the home button and swiping an app upwards. Before you had to double-tap the home button and then press and hold on an app icon until they jiggled and then press the 'x' button to get rid of it.
Search is different. Better? Maybe. I don't have an opinion because I rarely use the search feature on iOS. But you used to swipe right from the first home screen to bring up the search screen. Now you can swipe down from any home screen to bring up the search.
You can now put more apps in a folder including the Newsstand app which I never used and would toss on the very last home screen to keep it out of the way.
The Notification Center is still an area I have yet to look at in depth, but I don't think I like the Today view too much. I'd rather see the All view at this point.
The redesigned weather app is also very nice and looks great. I enjoy being able to tap on the big temperature number and display other weather attributes such as the humidity level.
There is plenty more of iOS 7 that I could probably cover, but I wanted to hit the things that stood out the most to me. Overall, I think it's a stellar upgrade and one well worth making. It brings a lot of new features, some long overdue and others new. The color scheme is nice and so are the new sounds t go along with it. Visually and audibly it's much softer and easier on the senses.
I've used iTunes Radio a little bit and it seemed pretty good, but I need to listen to it more before I have a better opinion of it.
There are a couple of features I am not able to review such as the new Touch ID and AirDrop because I do not have a device that supports them yet. But, soon, I'll have a new iPhone 5s to test them out on.
Download the pdf version with pictures here.