I wasn’t necessarily thrilled when I first downloaded iOS 7, the newest version of Apple’s operating system. I’m also the first, however, to admit that the changes are growing on me. Since the software’s introduction last week, I have heard far more complaints than praises about the system. But because this is the biggest change to iOS since its debut six years ago, I can’t say that I’m surprised; I recognize that the actual change is usually what causes customer dissatisfaction rather than any concrete problems with the software.
Take Facebook, for example. When Facebook makes a change to website layout, it’s practically guaranteed that most people will be sent into an angry frenzy as they struggle to adapt to a new way of Facebook-ing. Let a few weeks pass, however, and allow people to adapt to the changes; their frustration will surely subside, and they will be forced to admit that actually, the new look really isn’t that bad.
In regards to iOS 7, I don’t anticipate this trend to be any different. I fully expect some people to reject the new look, only to eventually adapt to it and accept it as the new way of doing things. After all, iOS 7 is designed to to make it easier to access information and to be more aesthetically pleasing. What’s not to like? It’s just going to take a little getting used to.
The software has a flat, abstract look with bolder and brighter colors. It uses far fewer shadows and textures but continues to distinguish background and foreground elements with transparency effects. The typography is all-new, and many of the application icons look different; plus, a few of Apple’s apps have been redesigned. But all in all, the software will not require excessive relearning because the basic layout and functions haven’t changed much.
One of the newest and most useful features of the update is the added Control Center, which appears when users slide up from the bottom of the screen. It acts like a remote control for the phone. The center allows users to access their Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Portrait Orientation and Do Not Disturb mode settings along with the Calculator, Timer, Camera and Media Player controls, giving users a one-stop screen for many of their smartphone needs.
The Notification Center has also been redesigned to give people the reminders they need for their day-to-day lives more easily. The “Today” panel displays events, birthdays, the weather, stocks and reminders all relevant to today’s date. Again, the emphasis is on delivering information as quickly and simply as possible.
The updated software also includes AirDrop, a feature that allows iPhone 5 owners to use iCloud to share photos and files between computers and mobile devices more easily.
In addition, Siri is coming back better and faster than ever: Users can now modify the voice of their personal assistant and enjoy better results when searching for information. Siri will now search through data sources such as Bing, Twitter and Wikipedia when asked to find something, truly demonstrating how integral social media has become to the tasks of everyday life.
In the same way, the redesigns of the camera and photos apps serve as a reminder of how influential picture-sharing and Instagram have become. There is now a “square” frame option, so that users no longer have to take the extra step to crop a picture. Apple has also added picture filters and the ability for iPhone 5S users to take burst shots at 10 pictures per second and slow motion video capturing. Pictures are now organized by location and date, making it easier than ever to pinpoint moments and retrieve your favorite pictures from any time period.
There are also smaller additions that just make using an iPhone easier: Timestamps on messages in the messaging app are made visible by they sent and received messages by sliding the screen to the left. Users can also change the vibration patterns on their phones and block certain people from calling or messaging them.
Change is never easy, especially when iPhone users have become so accustomed to and dependent on their iPhones. Arguably, the software needed an update to be able to keep up with a changing environment. And let’s face it, six years is a long time to wear the same look. That makeover was sorely needed, and Apple certainly succeeded in creating an innovative design for their innovative devices.
iOS 7 feels cleaner and fresher. It feels like the future.
Cecilia Callas is a junior majoring in print and digital journalism. Her column “Tech Talk” runs Wednesdays.
Follow her on Twitter @ceciliacallas