It’s no secret that I am as far from being a fan of Apple’s products as you can get without being a technophobe. I’ve never been a fan of the overly-simplified (to the point of unproductivity) interface, their controlling mentality for third party software on their devices, and just the overall pretentious air the whole company gives off … it all just doesn’t do it for me, or most serious tech people. So, it may seem a shock that I was asked by anyone to review the iOS 7 UX, given my very loud criticism of Apple.
Actually, this kind of makes me probably the best person to handle a review of the iOS 7 UX, because I expect it to suck completely, and that means Apple has big standards to meet in order to impress me. An Apple fan would be a lot more gentle than I would be wont to be.
So, first, let’s look at the things that actually seem to have improved over the abysmal previous versions of iOS.
It Finally Has a Control Center: Yeah, the thing that has always bugged the hell out of me about iOS is its utter inability to multitask, which is something Android has done since version 1.5. Well, Apple has finally gotten with the program and added the control center mechanic, which is basically like a task bar or task manager on a PC, allowing you to have more than one app running, and to switch between them like a civilized OS has done since the 16-bit era of microprocessors.
The Camera’s Not a Jumbled Mess: I don’t really use the cameras on my mobile devices or tablets much. I don’t put pictures of myself online, nor do I feel the need to photodocument everything in existence. I actually have a little bit of a problem with people violating privacy and common courtesy with these things. But, sometimes they’re handy, and Android’s has always been easy to use, while iOS’s camera, if you wanted to move through different shot types and filters, was a long drawn out mess that crashed the device half the time. The new camera app in iOS 7 uses the same swiping and fluid control Android has offered since their Éclair release. Yeah, they’re just playing catch up with Android in everything so far, but at least that means it’s not awful now.
So, now that I’ve actually praised a whopping two improvements, let me tell you how everything else about this system has actually gotten worse – if you can believe that’s possible.
No Landscape? Still?!: Yeah, Android, Windows Mobile and Blackberry OS have supported landscape mode for ages, and iOS, which has been having build releases almost twice as long as either of those three, still can’t do it. Why do they bother putting accelerometers on these devices if the core OS can’t even respond to it?
Rigid Design: Android and Windows Mobile let you mess with layouts, icon orders and visual themes. But iOS, which has previously allowed this to a much stricter limit, now no longer lets you do a damn thing to change the appearance of the system. With the bright washed out colors and obsession with white space, this just makes me want to take a news paper and go “no, bad designer!”
Slow!: This system is slower than the previous versions. I think this is a result of bloat, but animations of controls and visuals lose up to fifteen frames per second half the time, and it just feels sluggish. This is probably because while they finally had a good idea and introduced the task center, they didn’t have a clue what they were doing in designing a system to multitask, and it just trips over itself. Oh Apple, you mountain of fail.
So, overall, my opinion of the iOS 7 UX is … they finally got a clue and introduced multitasking three generations behind everyone else, and actually made the camera useful. But, when it comes to aesthetics, customizations and really tapping the full power of the hardware they put in these things, especially at the absurd prices … they’re light years behind Android, Windows Mobile and even the much overlooked Blackberry OS.