An hour or so with iOS 7
Note: I'll be updating a few times this week as I get my feet wet with iOS 7. Here's the second.
So I walked out of Tekserve and used Maps to find my hotel. I tried out iTunes Radio, but I was in a rush so I didn't have much time to set things up. Luckily Apple has asked some high-profile musicians to create some playlists under the "Featured Stations" section. I was worried I wouldn't know where to find iTunes Radio but the icon is pretty clear in the music player app. Soon I heard Jared Leto softly speaking in my ear, explaining his thinking behind the song choices on his playlist. His California playlist.
Maps is virtually the same as it was before, and I was never given audio prompts for the walking directions I asked for -- which is tradition.
Another tradition on the streets of New York is me, walking along, texting to my girlfriend. I really like Messages now, although I can't exactly pin down why I like it so much better. From the text bubbles visibly popping up into the stream to the blur atop the stream when you scroll with the keyboard up, the whole thing needed a fresh coat of paint. Better still, everything seemed more responsive. When I got a message on my lock screen I could swear it was easier to swipe to unlock and reply. It's amazing how driven we are by our eyes.
Speaking of messaging, while I don't feel like the keyboard has had more than a new coat of paint, it does feel more responsive and accurate. iOS 7 didn't make the M key twice as big, however. I'm still mistyping things, but that is why we have Siri. I'd still like to use other keyboards, frankly.
Siri is so much better. When you first launch Siri, there are example phrases. Now you can finally do things like turn off Bluetooth from Siri! You can also see if Siri can even hear you! As we reported, Siri is no longer a beta. While the tech still isn't quite as good as Google in some cases, Siri is far more functional than before and I see using it a lot when I'm out and about.
I was never a big fan of CoverFlow, and Safari's new multi-page view is a meh for me. I liked the older view because I could see an entire page, but at these sizes why am I complaining? The somewhat-gimmicky parallax finally comes in useful here, however, as I could tilt my iPhone to see more of the pages as they were stacked. Nope, I totally won't look silly doing that in a coffee shop.
As for FaceTime, I thought I'd hate having a new app for this (especially when Cupertino decided to rearrange the furniture across my home screen), but I asked my girlfriend to test it and... she couldn't figure out how. So I think this will help a lot of people to get more familiar with the tech, and I must say the quality is crazy good. Background muting was outstanding, as her son was blasting a kid show, but FaceTime muted everything while I spoke.
Now back to music. I didn't spend a ton of time mucking around in the music app, but I'm pretty sure the Create button at the bottom when you're playing a song wasn't there before. I would still like to see a drag-and-drop metaphor in the music player, allowing me to browse albums, artists and songs and just pull them into a playlist, but at least Apple has made making a playlist a little more obvious now.
Some bad parts I've found so far:
- OK, the animations are bugging me now. Some are fine, but the swooping in of icons gets old within an hour. This is the new genie effect, and I can just hear jailbreakers planning to turn it off now.
- Where did the list view in Calendar go? Apple, people do use these things and sometimes we do get tired of exercising our thumbs just to see our day. In particular, I am a visual organizer and like to see my entire day before me, not just slivers of it.
- Dictionary? What Dictionary? Well clearly there's a Dictionary loaded into iOS, because autocorrect is on point. But when you select text and click Define it won't define the word. Any word. You have to tap Manage, then download one of dozens of available dictionaries. That seemed very un-Apple and I'm hoping it was a bug which will be fixed.
Little touches everywhere
Even with those issues (and I'm sure I'll find more), I have to say the little touches definitely added up. I don't even mind the battery icon, which appears briefly when you plug in, then disappears so you have to look up in the corner where the battery usually indicates charge. There are worse things in life, I guess.
Still, from swiping anywhere on the lock screen to unlock, to Control Center and Siri allowing easy access to toggles (for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, the LED light, etc.) all the way to the new FaceTime app and app switching in landscape view (how was this not a thing before?), iOS 7 is a worthwhile upgrade for me. I think it will be a good update for anyone with an iPhone. Note I said iPhone. I have yet to try iOS 7 on my iPad 3 thanks to some varying reports on its stability and speed.
Now I'll be spending the night getting to know more about iOS 7, and report back tomorrow after I've spent an entire day with it.
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