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9/18/2013
06:18 PM
Thomas Claburn
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Apple iOS 7: Visual Tour

Vivid graphics and better navigation in Apple's iOS 7 mobile operating system give Apple devices new appeal.
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Apple's iOS 7 will be compared to Microsoft Windows 8 because redesigns of successful products are thankless. Microsoft got into trouble by trying to make Windows work across desktop PCs and tablets while forcing its new Metro interface on customers. It was too much to ask, too quickly -- particularly of business customers, who view change as a risk.

Apple isn't trying to overhaul its interface. It isn't tearing down the underlying structure and rebuilding. It's polishing, renewing and shifting some walls.

iOS 7 manages to be both familiar and engagingly different. There will be complaints, but the praise will be louder. It is fundamentally a vital and beneficial update for Apple's mobile products.

iOS 7 looks more sophisticated. Skeuomorphism, the simulation of real-world textures in digital designs, has been mostly banished. The typography is more refined, the colors more harmonious and dynamic, and the inclusion of background parallax -- a 2-D simulation of the way objects at different distances appear to move at different speeds when the viewer's perspective shifts -- gives a sense of depth.

The graphic elegance might come at a cost: Time and power. The transition animations in iOS 7 take a bit longer than their plain predecessors, trading some efficiency for aesthetic enrichment. And users of beta versions of iOS 7 complained about poor battery life, which isn't surprising with so much graphics processing and the growing popularity of location services. If Apple hasn't managed to address these issues already, expect a chorus of complaints and the rapid release of an update.

But iOS 7 brings changes of substance in addition to changes of surface. Control Center, for example, provides quick access to a number of useful settings simply by swiping up. This alone is a meaningful improvement over swiping back and forth through multiple app screens to find the Settings icon and then trying to navigate down that rabbit hole.

AirDrop is another useful addition. It simplifies the process of sharing files between iOS apps. It would have been better if it could share files with any mobile device or at least with OS X devices. But it's better than syncing with iTunes and then dragging files out of iTunes.

There's a lot more to iOS 7 than that. Read on to see some of the highlights and tell us what you think. Is iOS 7 going to be a hit?

The price might help: iOS 7 is available, free, for: the iPhone 4, 4S, 5, 5C and 5S; the iPad 2, third- and fourth-generation iPads, and the iPad Mini; and the fifth-generation iPod Touch. Devices need at least 3 GB of free space for the installation process, but the actual download ends up taking only about 650MB to 750MB of space, depending on the device.

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Martin Mannlein
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Martin Mannlein,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/21/2013 | 4:33:44 PM
re: Apple iOS 7: Visual Tour
Where must I go to learn the proper format to use with iOS7 siri?
Becca L
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Becca L,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/19/2013 | 8:46:03 PM
re: Apple iOS 7: Visual Tour
I'm excited about a lot of these changes to the interface. I didn't even know I wanted this until going through the slideshow. (A flashlight on the lock screen? Holy cow!) That's Apple innovation for you... My phone is downloading iOS 7 as I write this.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
9/19/2013 | 7:32:58 PM
re: Apple iOS 7: Visual Tour
I haven't had a chance to use iOS 7 yet, since I don't currently have an iPhone. But here's what I find important so far: Before the new iPhones reached reviewers, the consensus was very "meh," with more than a few commentators claiming that Apple no longer innovates; after reviewers received their phones, and after iOS 7 was released to the public, the tone changed dramatically.

Now, almost everyone is praising both the OS and the new hardware, and after some initial concerns about pre-sale numbers, analysts now expect an opening week sales figure that should exceed the iPhone 5's. Could iOS 7 be better? Yes, I think so, and I think Tom raises good points, as did Eric Zeman in another IW story today. But given what people are now saying, I think Apple has reasserted its smartphone leadership in several respects. Moreover, once gaming and fitness developers start playing with the new A7/M7 processors, I also suspect the iOS app ecosystem will only grow stronger. That said, some of the OS's weak points might grow more glaring in coming weeks, as more and more users weigh in.

Have any of you who've already downloaded it developed any strong opinions, one way or the other? It will be interesting to see how iOS 7 satisfaction varies with hardware.
embeetee
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embeetee,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/19/2013 | 5:49:43 PM
re: Apple iOS 7: Visual Tour
iOS 7 look is IMO a poor change. By getting rid of borders on icons, they fair more poorly against custom backgrounds. Font changes on icon names make them extremely hard to read against many backgrounds. Progress bars (loading a page in Safari, for example) are now very narrow, less visible. The toolbar at the bottom of Safari and other similar toolbars now use, again, very narrow lines and are less visible.
The whole effect is to render the UI much harder to use in low light conditions and especially when you're giving the phone a quick glance for info. You're going to find lots of 50-60-70 year olds whose prespyopia, which we all face as we age, makes this UI a real step back in usability. Prettier but less usable is a poor trade.
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