iOS 7—Apple's next generation Operating System for its mobile devices the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, will be released to the general public as a free update on Wednesday 18th September.
Apple touts over 200 new features and changes to the system, many of which will likely be transparent to the average user. The biggest and most obvious change however, will be the interface—that glorious layer of graphical goodness that lies between yourself and the power within.
I've had a week to try iOS 7 so far. While excitement and enthusiasm for a new look to my phone has not wavered, the transition to this flatter, less gradient-heavy has been a tough one emotionally. I've found myself having to look around a little more to find the elements I need to be productive.
Finding myself slowing down, because I have to get used to certain functions again is a tough pill to swallow. It makes me wonder how others are going to adapt to it.
Don't get me wrong. In every way, iOS 7 is far, far superior to its predecessors. But I have this guttural discomfort in my stomach that tells me something's wrong. That is what I can't reconcile just yet. I don't like the flat new icons, but other than that, everything else is a change for the better.
Life Can Be Easier…
One of my favourite new features is Control Center. Apple has finally added a way for me to quickly toggle services like WiFi and Bluetooth off, or change the brightness of the screen. I have an app called Sleep Cycle, that monitors my sleep patterns and wakes me as I come out of REM sleep. Its usage requires me to put the iPhone face down under my pillow, but I was never comfortable sleeping right on top of a microwave transceiver. Now, quick access to Airplane mode (which switches off all the radio circuitry), makes the whole process of using the Sleep Cycle app that much easier.
For someone who's made a career out of intimately knowing the iPhone's software, going into a deep learning mode is tough, and I am concerned for those that already struggle with the iPhone. Seasoned iPhone users like myself, will likely experience a similar (yet acceptable) discomfort.
One example is iOS 7's Mail. In iOS 6 and earlier, swiping to the right on a Mail message in list view would bring up the delete button. Now that same action only works when swiping from the right. Swiping to the right takes you into the email message. Not very useful when you were likely trying to delete a spam message without reading it. There are lots of little things like this, that are better, but require re-learning.
Remember That Change Isn't a Bad Thing
That being said, learning something new isn't a bad thing. There are lots of features that I will make an effort to learn to use on a regular basis. One of which is spotlight. Previously, spotlight was a nuisance page that I'd end up on if I pressed the home button more than once when I was on the first page of icons. Now, iOS 7 has you swiping down on the homepage to access spotlight. It's so subtle, but I think this is so much better. By turning it's method of activation into a unique, deliberate action, I'm more inclined to use it intentionally. Spotlight is after all a very powerful way of finding information and content on your device.
Accepting it, adapting, and moving on…
In the end we have to embrace the change. A year from now, we will all have adapted to the changes. Many of iOS 7's features will have undergone further refinement, and life will be easy again.
When you're getting ready to upgrade to iOS 7, don't forget to make sure you have a recent iCloud or iTunes Backup of your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Know that there is help out here for those that need it, and that it's only a phone call or email away.