Since the release of the iPhone in 2007, there has been a new major player in the world of operating systems. Before iOS, operating systems were considered mainly the domain of traditional computers, but with the Apple-led explosion in portable devices with computer-like functionality such as smartphones, tablet computers, and portable media players, this mobile operating system has gained a substantial user base and has been hugely influential in the world of mobile and touch screen devices of all kinds. It has provided everyone with a cell phone access to high speed internet at their fingertips.
However, compared with other operating systems, iOS has changed relatively little with subsequent releases over the past six years. That looks like it is about to change with the recently announced iOS 7.
iOS Until Now
iOS was released at the same time as the iPhone, and was indeed originally known as iPhone OS. However, the familiar touch screen interface, functionality, and expandability was soon included with the iPod Touch, and gained significant traction with its inclusion with the iPad in 2010.
Although certain mobile phones had been capable of sending text messages, checking email, and web-browsing for years prior, iOS made these functions and more especially intuitive – with the ability to expand a device with a growing number of apps which could be developed by anyone. Suddenly, mobile devices became more similar to computers.
There have been much publicized changes in recent versions of iOS, including the replacement of the formerly integrated Google Maps with Apple’s own Maps, enhanced camera and photo editing functionality, and the end of YouTube integration. However, it looks like iOS 7 will be the closest thing to an overhaul that iOS users have seen so far.
iOS 7 – The Good
iOS 7 has the most updated look of any iOS version so far, and contrary to popular predictions the aesthetics of the interface have actually been simplified. At first glance, the graphics are flatter with less of the cutesy effects of past iOS versions. However, this facelift gives iOS a much classier, more refined look that fits with modern design trends.
Several facets of usability have also been updated for the better. Settings such as Wi-Fi and Airplane Mode are now much more easily accessible. The built-in Safari browser now has an integrated search and URL field, something which most iOS users will see as long overdue.
Apple has now also included the AirDrop file sharing app in their mobile devices for the first time with iOS 7. Siri has also been updated to have a male voice option, and Siri service has expanded capabilities like changing the phone’s settings.
iOS 7 – The Not so Good
While iPhone 4 users have had few problems with past iOS updates, there have been a few reports of iOS 7 not working so well on the iPhone 4, which is hopefully something which will be addressed by Apple.
The skeuomorphic graphics on previous iOS versions – which made icons look like various materials – had plenty of fans, and there will be users disappointed to see this element of the iOS interface to change.
While the new URL/search field in Safari is welcome, the navigation bars vanish when you are looking at a page, and you can navigate by swiping the page back or forward. This is potentially convenient, but it is sometimes a little too easy to unintentionally navigate away from a page.
Is iOS 7 Worth the Hype
All things considered, the substantial updates to the look and usability of iOS 7 outweighs the few downfalls, which will hopefully be addressed – if not outright fixed – with future updates.