Yesterday during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference we were left open-mouthed by the beautiful simplicity of iOS 7. We’ll find no more green felt in Games Center, no more lined yellow paper as a backdrop to our notes. Instead, iOS 7 implements a new clean, modern design that features crisp white backgrounds, translucent boxes, and two-dimensional buttons appropriate for the touchscreen world. After iOS 7 was demoed, I think he was speaking for all of us when an audience member attending the Conference screamed “I love you!” to Tim Cook – we were that awestruck.
Before I tell you why I’m in awe of the revamp of iOS (and why I think it doesn’t go far enough), I have to tell you a bit about me. Full disclosure: I’m an avid Android user. My first smartphone was a Motorola running Android and, years later, I still haven’t looked to Apple for a phone. I tried out the iPad for a week before opting to purchase the Nexus 10. I bought the HTC One the day it was released. Though I’m a longtime Mac user and find the possibility of integration with my phone enticing, I cannot ditch Android’s customizing capabilities. That being said, watching Apple’s iOS 7 demo yesterday made me think, “Finally. Apple is on its way to convincing me to make the switch.” Though Apple still has a long way to go before it offers me the capabilities I love on my Android devices, the reason iOS 7 is appealing to me is because, well, it’s incorporated features that have been available on Android since forever.
I was hooked on iOS 7 at Control Center. This new feature allows you to swipe up from the bottom of your homescreen to reveal some of your phone’s most-used settings such as a WiFi toggle and access to the Calculator app. This sounds awfully similar to the settings icon available in the Android’s notifications panel and, as Pete Pachal points out in Mashable, the feature is an important one in BlackBerry 10. So, nice job, Apple: Control Center looks really useful. Too bad you didn’t get around to incorporating it into iOS until 2013, six years after the release of the first iPhone. How innovative.
The “flat” design of iOS 7, icons’ lack of 3D elements, the refusal to make phone elements resemble their real-life counterparts, is obviously borrowed from Windows Phone. In Slate, Farhad Manjoo writes, “A year and a half ago, I called Windows Phone the best designed mobile OS on the market. In many ways, iOS 7’s new design brings it up to par with Windows.” It seems Apple is playing catch-up with their design, but at least I can say their design goes above and beyond the aesthetics inspired by Windows Phone. “Designed by Apple in California, with an assist from Redmond,” Manjoo jokes.
Other new features coming to iOS that are an embarrassment to the word “new”: Unlimited tabs and a unified search box in Safari for mobile; what has Chrome been up to since the beginning of its time? Multitasking for all apps; this is as old as Palm OS. Audio-only capability for FaceTime, grouping photos by date and location? None of these features are new to the smartphone world – they’re just new to iOS.
Alright, alright. There’s a certain point you’re waiting for me to make, and I’ll make it here. The beauty of iOS 7 is not that it includes a slew of new features, but rather that it incorporates these features into the world’s most loved smart phone. Mashable’s Pachal writes,
“Being the first to have a feature doesn’t guarantee a good user experience — and it’s the experience that Apple has always prioritized. That philosophy was front and center in the video that Tim Cook used to kick off his keynote: The first thing Apple asks in designing products is not what they can do, but how they make the user feel.
“As much as I like many of the features I often see in various Android phones, respect Microsoft for doing something truly different with Windows Phone and admire BlackBerry for creating a truly state-of-the-art mobile OS, none of them does the whole package quite like Apple.”
And it’s this “whole package” that Apple gets so right that keeps me hoping, one day, for a more customizable iPhone. Only when Apple lets me choose which apps and toggles to include in Control Center, allows me to use gesture shortcuts on my homescreen, lets me mess around with the Lock screen, will I convert.
“OS design isn’t everything. If it was, I’d have a Windows Phone, and so would you,” Slate’s Manjoo writes. “Apple makes the best-looking phones, and now it has a mobile operating system to match its hardware.” Though I appreciate iOS’ improved design, I have to disagree with Manjoo and say that I’m still waiting for the iPhone to have a mobile operating system that matches its hardware.
What do you think? Is iOS 7 up to par with modern smartphone capabilities?