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.
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.
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.
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.