Hands on with iOS 7 beta for iPhone and iPod Touch

Hands on with iOS 7 beta for iPhone and iPod Touch

First Impressions of iOS7

Apple 2013 WWDC Keynote Summary (iOS 7 Features with Photos)As soon as the WWDC concluded I quickly jumped on Apple’s Developer site to see if I could get my iPhone 5 setup to test the iOS 7 Beta. With my phone added to the developers portal, I made quick work of downloading the beta software for my phone and a fresh update to Xcode to do the install. After a little trouble shooting (couldn’t get my phone to activate without actually installing iTunes instead of Xcode) I was finally up and rolling.

Responsive Display

The first thing that grabbed my attention was not only the sleek new lines but the dynamic display that moved in response to the accelerometers within the phone. This gave a 3d effect as I tilted and angled my phone. I also noticed that under settings for the wallpaper there was a “Dynamic” option of Bocce art that was a motion background (much like a video clip that loops, however this seems to have no pattern). This new layered affect really makes the phone look sharp.

The other aspect to the design change is that many of the menus are slightly translucent allowing a vague resemblance of your background image to shine through giving the user more control over the overall look and feel of the phone.

Photos

The pictures listed under photos really seems to be much better organized. With the “Photos” view selected, you’re given a very intuitive view of all your pictures based on date and geographical location. This makes it much easier to navigate large amounts of pictures when trying to narrow in on a specific day, time, and place. For those not used to this view, you also have a choice to view your photos based on “Albums”. Apple has obviously been making efforts to improve the end users ability to find “that one photo” that we all seem to be looking for but can never find in the moment.

Bottom Pull-up Menu

Having used to unlock my phone to install “unofficial apps” in the past, I can’t help but think that Apple goes onto the jailbroken app store called Cydia for ideas. If you’ve had an unlocked phone, chances are you’ve had many of these features for sometime now. Seems that Apple has finally caught up to what people are really wanting out of there iPhone’s.

Similar to the notification center, simply dragging your finger up from the bottom displays a quick access window to basic user settings and preferences. In the window you can quickly turn on/off airplane mode, wifi, bluetooth, sleep mode, lock orientation, adjust your brightness, basic music controls, airdrop (which is new) as well as four applications (flashlight, compass, calculator, and camera). The airdrop feature is pretty slick in that you can now share files instantly with anyone else near you without the need to “bump” anymore. While many will find these “new” features very useful, many of us that had been unlocking our phones for years (but have had to let go of unofficial iOS tweaks with the iPhone 5) can breathe a collective sigh of relief that these features have finally made it into the iOS.

Multitasking Previews

One of the other new features in iOS7 is the new preview when in multitasking mode. When in any given app, double tapping the “home” button brings up a display of all the apps that you currently have open making it easier to quickly identify what you’re looking for.

Notification Center Revamped

The notification center has been revamped listing all sorts of useful info you need on the fly. The date, temperature, calendar and reminders are all at your fingertips. While you can customize what you see in the Notification Center (for example I removed Stocks as I don’t own any) there is a “Today”, “All”, and “Missed” categories at the top allowing you to see only the information pertinent to what you’re looking for.

 Flattened Icons

After showing a few folks the new iOS, I’ve received a lot of comments that it looks similar to a windows phone. While I don’t necessarily agree, I do like the more modern update to the phone’s user interface. Being a graphic designer the green felt from the “Game Center” app, yellow notepad under notes, and the cowhide calendar have long been overdue for a redesign. While there are as many opinions out there on the new icons as there are people, any change in the “norm” always feels huge at first, but as the general public catches up with the early adopters I think we’ll barely hear a peep a few months following iOS 7’s release. What’s your impression? Do you like the new look?

 Misc.

You can’t swipe left to the home screen to “search” anymore. I’m not sure the reasoning behind this.

Nice zoom features when going into folders, into apps, and coming out of apps.

You’ll notice there’s a separate icon for Facetime now with a “Audio Only” option. I think this is actually a sneaky way of allowing users to make phone calls via their data plan… not all that dissimilar to when Apple first rolled out the iMessage idea.

So what are your thoughts? Let us know in the comment section below…

About Mike Labrum

I'm a father of two and husband of one living in the heart of Seattle. I manage a coffee shop called "The Bridge Coffee House" and am also a Community Pastor. I've been a long time Apple enthusiast and love technology that can help me accomplish my day to day tasks and goals with greater efficiency so I can spend more time doing things that really matter to me - spending time with people. On the technical side, I've managed to install Android on my iPhone, designed iPhone skins for jailbroken iPhones, and barely squeaked out an app which goes to show that with a little elbow grease and a good google search you can usually attempt just about anything.

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