iOS 7 experiences

Shortly after Apple released the beta of iOS 7 for its iPhone devices, I decided it was time to take the plunge. Way back in the day (and I mean way back), I used to do some programming. I have thought about trying to learn my way around iOS app development, so I figured now is as good a time as any to sign up as an Apple developer. That done, I downloaded the iOS 7 beta and installed it on my trusty iPhone 4S. [For those who are wondering, I spent time over the weekend trying to pick up C++. I didn’t, and it’s going to take a while to learn the ropes.]

Installing iOS 7 over a working version of iOS 6 is not for the faint-hearted. I worried that I very well might brick my iPhone. Fortunately, my worries were for naught, and the only “problem” is that I had to reinstall apps I use frequently. (This was actually a useful way to clean out the apps I rarely use but never get around to deleting.)

First things first: the appearance. There are some things I love about the new design aspects, and a couple of things I haven’t yet come to love. Here are a couple of thoughts:

  • The “flat” style of icons leaves me a little unimpressed.
  • The re-design of various icons to take advantage of space principles really makes a difference. I was immediately struck by how great the newly designed icons look, and how clunky old icons look in comparison. It all has to do with positioning of the icon and use of positive and negative space, but when it’s absent it really makes you take note.
  • The new typeface is nice and elegant. I wondered if it would be pleasant to read since it’s so thin. It’s just fine.
  • Some new icons (notably Photos) aren’t suggestive of what the app does. The old Photos icon of a sunflower never worked for me, but the new one doesn’t either.
  • I can’t figure out how the heck to make playlists in the Music app on the iPhone. I could do it under iOS 6. I’d prefer not to have to do it via iTunes, and hopefully this is a temporary thing.
  • iTunes Radio seems nice, works fine. Apple definitely has an uphill battle to cut into the market share of Pandora or Spotify. But, for users of iPhones who have not discovered streaming radio, iTunes Radio will probably be the first choice for those users since it’s built right in.

The parallax effect (how the background image moves when you tilt the phone) works best if you tilt the phone side to side. Now, this is really nothing more than eye candy. It doesn’t make the phone or any apps work any better. But it is cool to look at, suggesting that the iPhone is just a little bit more than a digital device. It’s not alive, by any means, but it feels a little magical.

To my pleasant surprise, none of the apps I use regularly (such as RunKeeper) are broken by the beta. That being said, with Apple’s release today of the iOS 7 beta for iPads, I’m not rushing to install it on my iPad. There are some things there (Westlaw Next, for example) that I don’t want to take a chance on because once you install iOS 7 beta, there’s no way to go back to iOS 6.

Using iOS 7 in beta form is not for everyone. For one thing, each beta version has an expiration date, and once that date passes, your phone is bricked. (No word, yet, on whether you can install the new beta and unbrick the phone.) Thus, you would need to make a habit of logging into Apple’s developer site regularly to see if a new beta version has been released.

As I make new observations and conclusions about iOS 7, I’ll post them here. Anyone else using it? How has your experience been?

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