In “A Guide To What’s Great In iOS 7,” I took a look at some of the best new features of Apple AAPL +2.06%‘s mobile operating system and how to get the most out of it. Here, though, I’m highlighting some things that are missed opportunities or worse in Apple’s new software.
Tear down this wall(paper)
When Apple showed off iOS 7 in June, it was pretty proud of how the new icons seemed to float above the background wallpaper to create an almost 3-D effect. In real life, the interaction between iOS 7 and the screen background is challenging at best. Because groups of apps stored together no longer are set off with a black background and white border, they adapt to the wallpaper colors behind them. As the snippet to the right shows, the results are mixed. Sometimes, you get offsetting contrast, sometimes you don’t. Worse still, the white text is often not so easy to read against the background, because the new font is thinner. You may find yourself experimenting with wallpapers to get it right.
The graphical issues aren’t limited to the wallpaper, though. For reasons I’m sure Apple can explain, the cleaner, simpler more efficient iOS 7 now has your icons fly into the screen whenever you unlock it like some kind of videogame effect. It’s pointless, delays your access to the phone by a fraction of a second and is arguably distracting. (My sense is this is going to be even worse on the iPhone 4 than it is on my iPhone 5, but I can’t be certain). The same can be said of the new waveform graphic Siri displays when you call her to action. While that might serve some small function — it tells you she can hear you — that feedback isn’t especially important but it can be annoying in the car. Apple is promising much better in-car functionality in a future update of iOS 7, but right now the visuals of Siri make her worse when driving.
Pro tip: The dynamic wallpapers can be particularly tricky for readability, even though the subtle visual effect is cool. Of the included selections, I found the one with the stars was the best blend of neutrality and usability. Your mileage may vary.
Apple’s calendar remains awful
While Safari got some great updates, Siri is much improved and the basic phone functions took a huge leap, the calendar app is just not good. Get Sunrise, Fantastical or one of the many excellent iOS calendar apps out there. It’s embarrassing that at this point you can’t enter “Lunch Tuesday 1pm at The Creamery San Francisco” into the calendar app and have it not only create the appointment but also know where it’s happening. Sunrise has no such problem.
Revolution number 9?
Before, when you wanted to group a bunch of apps together, there was a limit as to how many you stack together in a single “folder”. With iOS 7, the limit has gone away because, for example, a group of games can have multiple panes within the stack that you can swipe through. The problem is that on the iPhone at least, it will only show you 9 of them at a time, which is fewer than you could see before. Because everything beyond the first 9 ends up buried, it’s not clear whether these “deeper” folders are a winner or whether you should stick with multiple folders for busy categories as you had to before.
Photo Streams are still backwards
Apple did some amazing stuff with pictures in iOS 7. The Collections function that groups them by time and place is terrific. Unfortunately, for a company that considers iCloud its future, Apple doesn’t seem to want to help you make all those photos easy to access outside your iPhone. This terrific post by Bradley Chambers sums up most of the issues, but I’ll put it this way: Nearly every tech support question I get about the iPhone revolves around photos, getting them off the phone, making albums, or the like. Apple needs to copy all your photos to the cloud, keep them there and if your phone is going to fill up from having too many, magically store small, low-resolution files of older photos there while keeping the good ones safe in a data center. When you connect with a computer, it can safely download all your photos in full resolution to it. Photo Stream has limits on the number of photos it will store for you, which just confounds people who take lots of pictures.
I’m joining a chorus here in telling Apple it can afford to store all your pictures and it’s time that it does. But it’s time that it does.
Searching your iPhone used to require you to swipe all the way to the left from the home screen. Now, it’s always accessible with a small downward swipe. Of course, a downward swipe also brings up notifications if that’s done from the top of the screen. Trying to get one of those functions but winding up with the other happens more often than you might like. But that’s not the only issue with swiping gestures in iOS 7. The new Control Center, which gives you quick access to commonly used settings, is easy to bring up with a simple swipe from the bottom of the screen. Getting rid of it is less easy, though. If you swipe down on the panel itself, you tend to turn off Bluetooth or WiFi. The trick is to tap above the panel and it will disappear. Not obvious at all, but effective.
Culled From Fake9jaNews