I’ve read several reviews of iOS 7 now, and most of them — even the good ones — went on and on about the colours, the icons, the parallax, the flatness of it all, blah blah blah, yada yada yada, zzzz.
This is not a “review.” This is a list about what iOS 7 does, mostly good, plus a few disappointments. What’s handy? What’s not? That’s it. It’s fairly complete now, but I will inevitably add several items to it.
- At the top of everyone’s list, and mine too: the control panel full of shorcuts to settings.
- “Speaking” of settings, ha, Siri can finally take us to Settings! And even set some.
- It sounds silly, but the LED flashlight switch in the control panel is actually useful in a way dedicated flashlight apps never were. No, really!
- Continuous scrolling of calendar weeks/months is just insanely greater than flipping between them.
- Safari’s reader view in Safari more prominent and useful, and makes nearly all web pages easier to read.
- ZOMG!! Waterproof!
- Photo “moments” and “collections” are fun and genuinely useful for exploring large numbers of photos on phone.
- Text scaling options are a major win for usability/readability, low-vision users, truly a big deal there even if relatively subtle enhancement for average user.
- More robust multi-tasking (but still with important battery saving concessions and tech, like coalesced updates).
- Way, way better Bluetooth implementation, fixing what was quite junky before.
- Do not disturb finally can completely shut the phone up, locked or unlocked.
- Real call blocking. And messages.
- Great under-reported feature: a no-face option in “face”-time! Audio-only mode. Serious usefulness when my wife is travelling and only has crappy wifi hotspots.
- Turn-by-turn walking directions!
- Live, large previews of apps in the switcher are just way better than a row of icons.
Just for 5S
- Touch ID is crazy fast and reliable. Best single feature ever added? Ideal security/convenience balance for me. For millions.
- Burst mode is a truly major camera feature feature — with it’s nice software help for selection/rejection. It will actually change my life … and I don’t even have a pet or a kid.
- Ordinary things become much more interesting in slow-motion. It’s like a time magnifying glass. I don’t need it, but I bloody love it.
- Our long global nightmare is over: the camera’s preview dimensions are finally accurate! Rejoice.
- AirDrop is a nice, genuinely useful device-to-device sharing system that will actually get used (and doesn’t require socially awkward phone bumping).
- “Today view” in notifications offers some handy calendar-based and reminder info. It’s no Google Now, but it’s better than nothing.
- No practical limit on apps in folders. Stuff ‘em! This will enable significant springboard reorganization.
- Mail search is faster and no longer stupidly handicapped (as opposed to the formerly annoying, arbitrary limits on search scope).
- Contacts app layout no longer painfully restricted to useless eye-candy “book” look.
- Maps bookmarks now sync, so I might actually use them.
- Safari’s significantly compacted chrome is a usability win (though I wouldn’t want to be a web app developer).
- Spotlight from any springboard screen is a good improvement.
- Some think it’s just eye candy, but I honestly believe the layering — achieved with a combination of translucent sheets and the infamous parallax effect — is actually functional, an orientation helper. It’s not a big deal, but it’s definitely not just aesthetics.
- Camera: filters and square crop are minor but welcome features.
- Apps now update in the background.
- Proper (consistent) timestamps on iMessages.
- Swipe from left edge is a useful new (nearly) univeral gesture that I am already using constantly (and barely thinking about).
- Siri can be taught how to pronounce things.
- Proper multiple "From" address management ... but um, still not for gmail.
- Mail has a handy new Unread-only inbox (and some others I care less about).
- It’s only a solution, but better than none: clear, direct support for downloading songs or playlists from iTunes Match to a device. (This was possible before, but extremely non-obvious.)
Annoyances and disappointments (mostly minor)
- Animations a tad slow and in the way at times.
- Folders display just 9 icons at a time, down from 12. Seems really silly on an iPad.
- The “Today” view a bit useless for those of us not ruled by calendars … and no way to get rid of it.
- Siri continues to be generally daft unless you know exactly what to ask… and often unavailable, too. Delays of >5 seconds have been routine lately.
- Puzzling and disappointing for a type geek that font-scaling is made so prominent in the settings, but other handy basic features for type are hidden away in the accessibility settings.
- iOS is still weirdly incapable of accurately locating me at home — it’s been 1-2 blocks off since my iPhone 3G.
- After all these years, a major piece of low-hanging fruit remains unavailable: a Dvorak keyboard layout. WTF, Apple?
- The audio-only “Face” Time option is wifi only, which makes it largely pointless as a data saver.
- Still can’t get delete of stock Apple apps. Still relegated to a “useless” folder on my rightmost home screen. Maybe in iOS 17, eh?
Just one bitter gripe
- Still no “shut the fuck up” master switch for all noises and notifications of any kind.