Software // Operating Systems
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9/19/2013
09:06 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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5 iOS 7 Headaches

Apple's iOS 7 finally surfaces for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. It's great, but some features need improvement.

Apple distributed the latest version of its mobile operating system to smartphones and tablets this week. iOS 7 is a giant leap forward for the OS, which was getting a bit long in the tooth. It introduces a fresh new design and adds hundreds of new features.

Overall, the new operating system is a success. Most of the changes are positive and enhance the appeal of Apple's iPhone and iPad. It's not all good news, however. Some aspects of the new OS don't feel as polished as others. Here are some of the things in iOS 7 that don't work as well as they should.

Folders

Apple changed the behavior of folders on the home screen. In iOS 6, folders could hold only 12 apps. When you opened the folder, however, you could see all 12 apps sitting there. Folders in iOS 7 can hold an unlimited number of apps. This is a huge improvement. However, only nine of them are visible at a time, which means that you have to start scrolling through the folder to find all the apps if you've put more than nine in there. One step forward, one step back.

[ Wireless carriers are helping to promote Apple's new hardware and software products. Read iPhone 5c Free With Sprint's $100 Discount. ]

Colors

The new design is mostly great, but it is also grating. Apple overhauled the look and feel of its operating system and fully modernized it with new fonts and icons, heavy use of white space and an entirely new color palette. Most of the colors are fine, but some aren't. For example, the green Apple picked for the phone app is painful to look at. Worse, there are no themes. You can't select a more muted color palette, or a black-and-white palette. You're stuck with the bright pastels that are, at times, a bit too cheery for me.

Lacking Social Skills

iOS may have basic sharing tools for Facebook and Twitter built in, but it doesn't go nearly as deep as competing platforms do. Perhaps the best example is Windows Phone, which enriches its contact and photo gallery applications with content shared by the device owner's social media connections. Android similarly makes it easy to see what Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter friends are doing and sharing. The ability to see recent status updates in the Android contact app is a neat way to see what sort of mood your friends are in before you give them a call. Also, what about other social networks? Facebook and Twitter are hardly the only two.

Inflexible Home Screen

Both Android and Windows Phone allow for far more customization of the home screen. iOS 7 continues to stick to a rigid grid with app icons that are all the same size and shape. There are no widgets, there's no dynamic content, there's no life to the iOS home screen.

Crummy Keyboard

Apple did make improvements to the keyboard in iOS 7, but it still lags the competition. I've definitely noticed an improvement in the auto-correction and I make fewer errors with iOS 7, but the slight improvement doesn't go far enough. For starters, there's no swiping (or Swyping). The native Android keyboard, for example, allows users to trace their finger over the keyboard to enter words. This is among my favorite features on Android devices, especially when it comes to typing on tablets. Apple's iOS 7 keyboard also doesn't offer next-word prediction. Both Android and Windows Phone are good at guessing what word you might want to type next. Even a success rate of 50% significantly speeds up the message composition process. Apple could have done better, or at least begun to allow third-party keyboard apps.

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Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
9/19/2013 | 4:48:46 PM
re: 5 iOS 7 Headaches
Could a third-party app address the typing gripe?
e-barnett
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e-barnett,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/19/2013 | 6:46:43 PM
re: 5 iOS 7 Headaches
Not natively; as far as I know, you still can't replace the OS keyboard in iOS7 using a third party app. (Please, somebody, tell me I'm wrong... that would be awesome.)
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
9/19/2013 | 7:19:07 PM
re: 5 iOS 7 Headaches
It could just be me, but I actually make way more mistakes with the WP8 keyboard than I do with the iOS one. I don't have enough experience with Android to compare, but between the other two, it's not even close. That said, I find the Windows 8 on-screen keyboard superior to the one on the iPad (at least on the Surface Pro, less so on less responsive devices, like the Atom or Win RT devices). To each their own, I guess.
OracleOfReason
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OracleOfReason,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/19/2013 | 5:23:35 PM
re: 5 iOS 7 Headaches
Wow, to imagine that I have been using IOS 7 all this time and never noticed how "painful" the phone icon is. To think I would use objective criteria to judge such devices and software. I never thought to use arbitrary opinion instead. Reading this, I hope the writer did not have this OS for more than a day.

I am a smartphone developer and own many different devices. The Android devices are very customizable. A tablet without an OS and industry standard parts would be even more "customizable." Good luck with that. Customization leads away from usability. I have no problem proving my Chinese mother-in-law with an iPad for communications. She keeps accidentally "customizing" the Android devices out of usability. She represents the major body of smartphone users as well, not tech writers.

Socially, try as I might I don't see any support for Weibo in Android, can you point it out (all the world is the US syndrome)? My Chinese wife could not find it. I also could not find the Facebook panel in the settings on my Nexus 7 running the 4.3 version of Android. Where is that, Eric? You mean the Facebook status updates that come through my notification center aren't real? The Twitter notifications as well? That Facebook pictures that populate my Contacts on my iPad and iPhone are imaginary? Where are the Flickr settings, Eric?

Here is what I see, the usability of these two OSes are miles apart and Adroid is not in the same ballpark. All of my execs are furnished with the Smartphone they desire by our company. We have yet to give a single Android based smartphone even though we are a tech company. My Nexus 7 has a nifty facial recognition feature. Too bad that it works so poorly I have to shut it off. And one can only imagine the lack of any real analysis to put in a pattern recognizer that NEONs one's pattern so everyone in the room has your password. Too bad that I have to scan the Android devices regularly for malware (Or thatI could write malware for Android in a day and get it into the Google Play store.

If these are the "headaches" one sees in IOS, the problems in Android 4.3 are better described as "Extinction events."
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
9/19/2013 | 9:33:46 PM
re: 5 iOS 7 Headaches
In my experience people who are technically disinclined are helpless in both iOS and Android. The person matters more than the device.
Kirk Kirkpatrick
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Kirk Kirkpatrick,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/20/2013 | 2:02:39 AM
re: 5 iOS 7 Headaches
Well I question your "experience." MP3 players were almost unusable until Apple brought out the "5 minute grandmother interface on the iPod.

People who simply could never use DOS or Unix had considerably less problem with the Mac or Amiga (there was no windows). At this time I was a computer trainer for large companies. I think it is obvious you have never trained people on technology and have very little experience in Human interface design.
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Ninja
9/21/2013 | 7:06:40 PM
re: 5 iOS 7 Headaches
There is a good deal of truth to this. It has long seemed to me that those who are technically disinclined are afraid to experiment, lest something bad happen;, or have been told all their lives that only trained specialists can properly handle computers.

The big reason why young people have no trouble picking up computers skills is that on average, they are much more willing to experiment than their elders are (possibly because they've been burned less).
Becca L
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Becca L,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/19/2013 | 8:56:04 PM
re: 5 iOS 7 Headaches
IMHO "I've definitely noticed an improvement in the auto-correction" is enough to outweigh all the other cons on this list.
Kirk Kirkpatrick
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Kirk Kirkpatrick,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/20/2013 | 1:56:34 AM
re: 5 iOS 7 Headaches
Wow, to imagine that I have been using IOS 7 aloo this time and never noticed how "painful" the phone icon is. And to think I would use objective criteria to judge such devices.

I am a smartphone developer and own many different devices. The Android devices are very customizable. A tablet without an OS and industry standard parts would be even more "customizable." Good luck with that. Customization leads away from usability. I have no problem proving my Chinese mother in law with an iPad for communications. She keeps accidentally customizing the Android devices out of usability.

Socially try as I might I don't see any support for Weibo in Android, can you point it out (all the world is the US syndrome)? My Chinese wife could not find it. I also could not find the Facebook panel in the settings on my Nexus 7 running the 4.3 version of Android. Where is that? You mean the status updates that come through my notification center aren't real. That Facebook pictures that populate my Contacts on my iPad and iPhone are imaginary?
jcrawford547
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jcrawford547,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/15/2013 | 6:20:19 PM
re: 5 iOS 7 Headaches
Kirk. Yes the phone icon color is objective, but what Eric is saying is it would be nice to be able to change it instead of just "accepting" it. I'm sure if you ever use other devices that have this functionality built in you get used to being able to make it your own and not just going with the flow like everyone else. Everyone has their own style, that's the point. Just because you like pastels doesn't mean everyone else does.
As far as the Facebook integration, whenever I get a phone call or make a call to any of my Facebook friends their last status is displayed (besides the latest picture). It's nice if they had something interesting to post so I don't seem lost in the conversation if something major just happened. Granted it's not a Nexus device, but an HTC phone. I don't have to check my notification panel or go into Facebook to check on things first.
Yes customization can be bad for some, but for most it's nice to have options since I can make my device simple or complicated depending on how I customize it.
Even though you say you have all different devices, in my experience iOS users try to use an Android device the same way they do their iPhone/iPad and don't take advantage of the many great features that Android has.
It's more of what a person is used to since I'm sure iOS has a few nice features that I don't take advantage of them because I try to use it like an android device and get frustrated that things aren't easier/faster.
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