Editorial

iOS 7: The more taps you make, the more it just clicks

I consider myself a design enthusiast, mainly within the realm of technology and even more specifically, in software. I only know basic HTML and CSS and my Photoshop skills are mediocre at best, but I do love to admire or critique what people far more talented and experienced than I am come up with.

When iOS 7 was first announced back in June and I got my hands on the developer beta shortly after, I wasn't really all that impressed. I loathed the new home screen icons with every fiber in my being, the new white backgrounds and bright color palette were a bit too much to take in all at once, and there were a lot of little imperfections across the board.

Now it's been a little over a month since the entire public has been able to install iOS 7 and use it on their iPhones and iPads on a daily basis. Quite a few Fisher Price jokes have been made about the color palette, and they summed up my initial impressions as well. The elegance of the beautiful new typography and faux 3D browser tabs seemed to clash with the practically neon blue navigation and boring, flat tab buttons. I thought it was pretty obvious that iOS 6 looked better. From the glossy blue text bubbles in Messages to the intense level of detail in each icon, it was just gorgeous.

The good news is I'm finally starting to just get iOS 7. I know that on a touch screen device you're supposed to make taps, but ironically it's all now starting to click. My favorite part of the OS is actually that it no longer tries to be anything it's not. Text messages don't try to be glossy bubbles, icons don't try to be shiny or 3D, and the Music app doesn't try to be a modernized jukebox. Everything seems to have a clean purpose.

The blurred transparent background of something like Notification Center is to indirectly tell the user the content you were just viewing is temporarily behind what you're viewing now. The parallax effect of your home screen wallpaper serves the same purpose to the icons. The gloss in Messages is replaced with a simple blue (or green) text background because the gloss was unnecessary eye candy. Tapping an icon now transitions to the app itself by zooming in directly from the icon to make clear what you're opening. The new software design principles put focus on content and functionality above all else, including how appealing and attractive everything might actually look.

Now I certainly don't want to give Apple all the credit here because I think it's naive to deny it received any inspiration from competitors. However, contrary to popular belief, I think Apple drew more inspiration from Windows Phone than Android. Windows Phone's UI has been "flat" since its start. It's also heavily text-based. Many parts of iOS 7's UI that once relied on buttons and shapes are now represented solely by text. Multitasking is nearly identical, too, although both iOS and Windows Phone owe their multitasking designs to Palm's webOS. I'm not accusing anyone of copying anyone here, but I do think some existing ideas are being built off of.

Not everything about iOS 7 is perfect though and it still does need work. Navigation buttons are sometimes too hard to see since they are often outlines rather than filled, some of the home screen icons are still mediocre to my eye, and there's some minor touching up needed throughout the OS. I'm still not completely adjusted to the bright color palette, but I don't necessarily think it's an ugly design choice just a different one; one some people including myself need to get adjusted to.

What I'm even more interested in at this point is the future. How might iOS 7's fresh design influence the competition to potentially follow the trend Apple is setting? How will Apple eventually apply these design principles to the Mac with OS X? How might the competition solve some of the problems or critiques people have with iOS 7? These are all questions I'm looking forward to having answers for.

For those of you who haven't quite gotten used to iOS 7 yet, give it more time. Expect that Apple will incrementally improve on the design and UI in the coming months and years. It's not perfect, but iOS 7's simple yet purposeful intentions are worthy of admiration, an emotion that comes in time.

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Also, since the design is suppose to be flat, that should also mean it should make the GPU faster because it isn't wasting time with UI effects. So why is it on my iPad 3, it literally takes 10 seconds for the wallpapers to change? Why when I rotate my iPad 3, it takes 3 seconds for the screen to rotate with me? Why does it still take iTunes/Apple App Store, 10 seconds to load? Why is it when I swipe from page to page, it is very slow to a point that some times I actually have to swipe a page twice for it to actually move to the next home screen? With all that screen real estate, why is it we still can't put more icons on a single page? Why is it when I use folders, it slows the UI even more? Why is it when I split the keyboard, it is slow?

Since iOS7 is suppose to be offering full-multi-tasking on hardware that wasn't designed for it, how is this effecting the CPU, GPU and such a low amount of RAM. Because based on usage of my iPad 3, it has slowed down considerably then when I was running iOS6.

In fact, I went to a point I did a full factory reset and installed no apps, no photos or movies or music. And I used the iPad 3 with just what iOS 7 installs and it is still very slow. I then installed an app that tells me how much RAM is being used, and over 50% was being used by the OS. Which leaves less than 50% of everything else. And since these older apps were not made to run in the background, when I install them...RAM slowly disappears even with the app having ever been opened? Why is that? The last time I had to deal with such issues, was with Blackberry OS. See where they are now? I see Apple going this way as well.

TechieXP said,
Also, since the design is suppose to be flat, that should also mean it should make the GPU faster because it isn't wasting time with UI effects. So why is it on my iPad 3, it literally takes 10 seconds for the wallpapers to change? Why when I rotate my iPad 3, it takes 3 seconds for the screen to rotate with me? Why does it still take iTunes/Apple App Store, 10 seconds to load? Why is it when I swipe from page to page, it is very slow to a point that some times I actually have to swipe a page twice for it to actually move to the next home screen? With all that screen real estate, why is it we still can't put more icons on a single page? Why is it when I use folders, it slows the UI even more? Why is it when I split the keyboard, it is slow?

Since iOS7 is suppose to be offering full-multi-tasking on hardware that wasn't designed for it, how is this effecting the CPU, GPU and such a low amount of RAM. Because based on usage of my iPad 3, it has slowed down considerably then when I was running iOS6.

In fact, I went to a point I did a full factory reset and installed no apps, no photos or movies or music. And I used the iPad 3 with just what iOS 7 installs and it is still very slow. I then installed an app that tells me how much RAM is being used, and over 50% was being used by the OS. Which leaves less than 50% of everything else. And since these older apps were not made to run in the background, when I install them...RAM slowly disappears even with the app having ever been opened? Why is that? The last time I had to deal with such issues, was with Blackberry OS. See where they are now? I see Apple going this way as well.


why not sell it and buy something you will like?

Really? We have demo displays with an iPad 2 updated to iOS7 and was actually impressed that it didn't function slow at all. Maybe I have to give it more thorough use to see the problems.

I wouldn't say it's unusable, but I agree that iOS 7 on my iPad 2 is noticeably slower and buggier than on my iPhone 5. This should presumably get fixed in an upcoming software update.

Is Neowin slipping back into posting these Apple click-bait articles?

You guys know the audience here is not interested in Apple (except they are highly interested in trolling Apple).

well even if the UI is flat theres prolly alot more underlying effects needing to be processed bogging it downso could be that why older models run slower

psionicinversion said,
well even if the UI is flat theres prolly alot more underlying effects needing to be processed bogging it downso could be that why older models run slower

It isn't flat. It uses some flatness, particularly on context/title menu bars and on some of the icons. On other parts of the OS you get plenty of non-flat elements. The "control centre" being the prime example with it's semi-translucent effects to let you see through to what's underneath. Or the fact you have a background image on the homescrren. On WP8 you get "dark" or "light" aka "black" or "white" as your choices.

It's not really consistent enough. If you compare it to a WP8 device you'll see what "pretty flat" is. On WP8 I rarely see more than 3 colours on the screen at once unless there are images being displayed or if the tile itself has a different accent colour or is "live". Eg the weather apps showing you a representative image of the weather with clouds or sunshine etc. The other tile icons themselves are exceptionally minimal using one colour (usually white) and then the accent colour of the theme for the background. iOS7 icons on the other hand are awash with gradients (often going in different directions from icon to icon), and excessively vibrant and bright colours.

Shadowzz said,
There's apps in the store to customize tiles and have more colors/options to pick from.

Indeed, but the functionality isn't offered/intended by default.

ROFLCOPTERS said,

Indeed, but the functionality isn't offered/intended by default.

True, but the functionality is there, and I personally have these things optional like now, rather than having a bloated OS, its much to big enough as it is already

myxomatosis said,
One word: Pastel

Which isn't what iOS7 is.

I don't think anyone would describe their colour choices as pastel.

IOS7 is still ugly and so is windows phone in my opinion, somehow I like andorid their design way more, just simple but not idiotically too damn minimal with unneccessary blurs and all the mess.

The one thing I really have a complaint about with iOS 7 is that they crippled the keyboard on Safari. They need to bring back the .com key.

I played with it a little and liked it, but will happily stay with WP. Im thrilled they're staying truer to WebOS than MS is with GDDR2? 3?

And maybe I'm getting old, but I expect a degree of copying. That's how we got such a great tech industry in the first place. I don't care who is first so long ad I get a well done implementation of it. And I want other versions/copies to help refine the ideas, since that helps me in the long run. That competitive give and take is very beneficial, IMO.

Im just thrilled that all the major players in mobile are very good, and even if X isn't my preference, I know I'll be well served by it if I have to change over.

It definitely looks cleaner, and has definitely captured the hearts of iPhone users at my university. Everybody I have asked who has updated RAVES about it. I find it crazy how Apple is able to capture the minds of people, and sometimes I wonder how Apple doesn't have an even more dominant position regarding market share.

I still can't get over the hideous semi-transparent notification center. That's probably one of the ugliest pieces of UI I've seen for quite some time. Add to that the fact that half the text is black and some is white, with all the colors bleeding through. Ugly!

"Everything seems to have a clean purpose."

This resonates with me. After all Jony Ive is a firm believer of Dieter Rams design principles.

WP 7/8 followed Rams' principles to the letter the first time, Android and iOS tried to be all flashy, bubbly and busy. Fortunately you can customize Android and now iOS is also following Rams' principle.

We all win here.

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