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VidBITS: Opinions on iOS 7

The TidBITS crew has been using iOS 7 full time for a week or so, so we convened a special staff roundtable to discuss our impressions of Apple’s newest, flattest operating system, with Adam Engst, Tonya Engst, Jeff Carlson, Michael Cohen, Rich Mogull, and yours truly, Josh Centers.

Needless to say, our reactions were mixed:

  • “It’s definitely different,” said Jeff Carlson. I noted that most regular users I know seem to hate it after the first week, and Tonya said that she was seeing mostly negative comments among her Facebook friends. Michael Cohen’s mother was confused by it until he explained how she could use a feature she considered essentially (which, oddly, is force-quitting apps). Jeff added, “Like a lot of things, it’s different. Shut up and give it two weeks.”

  • Adam brought up the fact that Apple is preventing dissatisfied users from downgrading to iOS 6. “It’s unconscionable,” he said. But, as Tonya pointed out, “You can’t just sit there with old stuff. Sooner or later it’s going to bite you.” But I ask if unhappy iPhone users will stick around or start taking a serious look at Android?

  • Rich is thrilled with responsiveness of the Touch ID fingerprint scanner in the iPhone 5s (for more general details about the technology, see his “Q&A about Fingerprint Scanning,” 10 September 2013). But, he said that he would turn it off at hacker conferences and when travelling internationally for safety. Jeff wants Touch ID on his iPad.

  • Rich also gave a big thumbs-up to the new slow motion video feature in the iPhone 5s. “If you have kids, you want slow-mo,” he said. It’s apparently more useful than we first thought (for our early iPhone 5s impressions, check out “The MacJury’s Verdict on the New iPhones,” 13 September 2013).

  • Tonya, along with most of the staff, is unimpressed with the use of layers in the iOS 7 interface. “It felt like someone threw some darts,” she said. However, as I mentioned, Apple at least fixed the inconsistent use of the linen layer in iOS 6, which was presented both below the interface in the multitasking bar and above the interface in Notification Center. Adam admitted to not having noticed the linen inconsistency… or caring now that he does know.

  • Michael and I butted heads on the Notes app. Michael loves the paper texture, but I hate it for its uncharacteristic skeuomorphism and use of yellow text on a white background. I shamefully admitted that I liked the stitched leather in iOS 6, but it now looks out of place in iOS 7 in the Find My Friends app.

While we couldn’t seem to agree on much, the one common thread is that iOS 7 lacks much of Apple’s traditional polish, and it still has a long way to go until the kinks are worked out. It’ll also take some adaptation by users, because iOS 7 breaks the muscle memories developed around previous version of iOS.

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