iOS 7 — The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
I’ve been using iOS 7 for a few weeks now. Everything is new and different, and that isn’t a bad thing. There is a lot to really like about this new version of iOS.
I’ve been using iOS 7 on an iPhone 4S and an iPad 3. My iPhone 5S is on its way, but won’t be delivered until next week.
For the first week or two, it was a honeymoon. I loved all of the new design interactions, the animations, the new features — especially iTunes Radio, improved Safari, improved Mail, Control Center, and even the new icons (though a few are less than perfect, but they don’t “bug” me like they do some people).
Having used it for awhile now, there are some things that have started to annoy me. We will get to those in a minute. First, let’s talk about what iOS 7 does well.
Clarity. For the most part, it is easier to get to your information. Case in point, Control Center, showing timers and alarms on the lock screen, smart mailboxes in Mail, beautiful typography that still impresses me every time I use my phone, and the Weather app, which is like looking out a window (it’s accurate and very fun). Time stamps in Messages was always missing, and while not a big deal most of the time, was critical to me at certain points. Not having access to this data in iOS 6 was very annoying at times.
The new years, collections and moments views in Photos are nice. It makes it fun and even a little easier/quicker to find the photo you’re looking for. I also like the new frosted look of folders, though I wish they showed more icons per page like in iOS 6 — especially on the iPad!
Depth. I enjoy how objects move and interact with each other while following the rules of physics and physical space. I like how things stack on top of each other, and zoom in and out as you move. This makes it easy to follow the path of where you’re going. I like the gaussian blur effects when you bring up panels that cover UI elements.
Safari, for the most part, is a vast improvement (with one caveat, which I’ll cover below). The interface is streamlined, and the ability to have more than 8 tabs is hugely liberating. Even the unified URL/search bar is nice. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked it, and I kept hitting a period when I tried to use the spacebar. I still do this, but it’s not as bad. My muscle memory is still training to help avoid this issue.
There’s a lot more to love about iOS 7, and many reviews have covered this already. Overall, there is a lot of good here, and I am really enjoying iOS 7. However, now we need to discuss some of the ugly issues I’ve ran into.
Safari’s new unified URL and search bar no longer shows the full URL of the page you’re on. On top of that, it no longer shows the title of the page you’re viewing! This is a ridiculous misstep in my opinion. Maybe 80% of people won’t notice or care, but one, or preferably both, of these critical pieces of information need to be shown to the user.
There are numerous reasons for why this is, including security, convenience and clarity. I really hope it gets addressed soon. It’s a minor niggle, but one that truly bothers me every single time I’m using Safari.
There are some areas of the system that lack polish. Saving attachments from emails, for example. Some icons have no obvious symbolism, so the only way to figure out what they do is to tap them and see what happens, or consult the manual. This was never the case with iOS 6.
Sometimes, my lock screen controls for music, podcasts etc. just simply stop working. This has only happened once or twice, but when it does it is very annoying (and unsafe). Having to unlock the phone and switch to the app to simply pause or skip around is a major nuisance, especially when driving or walking.
Some animations are too slow. Especially going into and out of folders and the app icons cascading onto the home screen when the phone is unlocked (EVERY TIME!!). There is also a noticeable 1-2 second delay when hitting the Home button, before the phone actually goes home. This happens every single time. These animation durations need to be cut in half, and any delays between the button presses and the actions need to be completely removed. Even though the phone feels fast and smooth most of the time, these (intentionally) slow animations and delays make the phone feel much slower than it is, and definitely add up over time. Apple, please fix this!
Apps crash pretty frequently. No, not all the time. Not even once an hour, but on iOS 6 I guess I was spoiled by the stability. Even 1-2 crashes a day is unacceptable to me in a bulletproof product, as I’ve come to expect from Apple.
Mail has repeatedly crashed when trying to save attachments, but other times it works fine.
Siri is really bad. Sure, the new voices sound great. And that’s about it. On iOS 6 I could use it and it would function about 8/10 times. On iOS 7, Siri is abysmal. I’d say about 2/10 requests work. I either get an “I’m sorry, I can’t do that right now, try again later” error, or it just randomly puts up sports scores and/or lineups?? What the heck is that all about? It’s gotten so bad that I don’t even use Siri much anymore, which was a beloved and fairly reliable feature of iOS 6.
In the Music app, trying to find an album is much much harder now. Used to be you tapped Albums, selected the artist, and just saw a scrolling list of albums. Now, the album view also shows all of the tracks. So when you have 10+ albums by a single artist, you have to scroll and scroll and scroll just to find the album you want. Plus, the albums seem to be sorted by date released, or some other random metric. Not alphabetically. Even worse!
The text selection lasso has become less usable. It is very squirrelly, and positioning the cursor has become much more difficult than it was in iOS 6 (and it already wasn’t a joy to use in iOS 6).
The Calendar is ugly, and harder to use. Yes, scrolling from month to month is very nice. But I miss a dedicated list view. You can tap the magnifying glass to search and see events for the day. However, they are laid out on a vertical grid for time of day. This means as you’re switching between days, you have to scroll up and down A LOT just to see the events you have for that day. This scrolling is needless and annoying. The stark white background and red text is jarring. This whole app needs an overhaul. Visually, it needs to be less grating, and functionally, we need a better dedicated list view for the day’s events. I really hope this gets polished, and SOON.
Battery life has noticeably decreased since updating to iOS 7. This could have something to do with my 4S battery being 2 years old, but still I had noticeably better battery life with iOS 6.
I know iOS 7 is still essentially a 1.0 (1.0.2 to be exact) release, and these bugs will be ironed out. That is of little comfort for the frustrations I am experience right now. Overall, I am well pleased with the direction of iOS 7, and very excited for the future of iOS. There are some annoyances, and design decisions that don’t make perfect sense, but I am confident that over the next several months, these areas will become more polished.