Despite a slick preview page on the Apple website, iOS 7, the new operating for iPhone and iPad is still months away from being released to the public.
I got to spend a few minutes hands on with iOS 7 tonight. In short, it really is a huge improvement over the already great iOS6. I want it now.
I tried to keep my thoughts limited to features that are clearly available on the Apple.com preview site. The only difference is that I got to play with it myself on an iPhone 5. My non-spoilery thoughts on iOS 7 from an iPhoneographer’s perspective after the jump. >>>
It’s one thing to see someone else demonstrate iOS 7 in a video. It’s an entirely different experience to work with it hands-on.
To start with, just about everything in the user interface has been redesigned and it’s all as sleek and modern as the demos and previews have shown. From a visual design standpoint, the new UI lives up to the hype surrounding it.
The interface is very sleek and fluid. It’s all more fluid than the current “genie” style transition effect. iOS 7 has even more gestures than iOS 6. My fear was that the texture of the OS would look too flat — too much like Windows 8. To see it all in motion, though, adds depth to the interface. With all of the other cool stuff going on, I won’t miss the jeweled icons.
And it’s all slick and fast. Despite all the extra code overhead, I didn’t experience any delays, even in this beta version.
I only had a few minutes with the OS so, of course, I went straight for the camera. Everything is where you expect it to be. The skeumorphic interface is gone and is replaced with flatter tools and flat shutter buttons.
I really like the new UI of iOS 7 Camera. In addition to the Normal, Pano, and Video modes, you can also shoot square format in-camera. Changing shooting modes through toggle switches and options panels are gone. Switching between modes is now as fast and easy as flipping through an onscreen slider panel. It’s a lot quicker and more intuitive than current methods and all of the shooting modes are now more conveniently in one place. An onscreen toggle switches quickly and easily between a transparent overlay and black letterbox bars, either way giving you more options to help better compose images in camera.
Like the rest of the OS, there’s a lot of movement in the Camera. Switching between modes causes an exaggerated focusing effect. I didn’t have time to test it, but I’m not sure if this will effect the shot-to-shot time of Apple’s very speedy Camera app. I hope not. If it’s a new focus effect, it’s far more pronounced than the current one. That’s a puzzling design choice given the OS’ overall rejection of the real-world simulations of skeumorphism.
Also touted with the new Camera app is the addition of 8 photo effects — Apple’s apparent response to the popularity of Instagram. The new one-click filters are the faux-retraux style seen in a lot of apps. They didn’t really get me as excited as a good third-party app would, but admittedly the monochromes look good and have some really nice tonal and contrast qualities.The RGB onscreen indicator is a great visual cue that indicates when you are shooting with a filter or not.
iOS 7 Camera’s filters could greatly reduce the need for a lot of the low-end Instagram front end apps. With the number of third-party apps available, including the free Instagram, overall the new filters did little for me.
When compared with the rest of the update, Camera gets some good new features, but it’s not the reinvention of the iPhone Camera many were hoping for. Instead, it’s a good evolution. The user interface gets several intelligently-designed changes that fit in well with the look, feel, and philosophy of iOS 7, as well as a few new features.
Not camera-related, but the Control Center is one of the crown jewels of this update and is an overdue addition to iOS. Access to many of the important settings that used to be buried two or more menus deep is now as close as the swipe of a finger. WiFi, Airplane Mode, Bluetooth, Music and a lot more are all easily accessible from anywhere in the OS, including the lock screen. In an update filled with favorite features, this is one of my faves. The new OS has many other surprises. We’ll see which stick around for the final release.
Reports of iOS 7 not being fully functional yet are accurate, but iOS is still in early beta testing. In fact, it’s surprising to me that Apple is publicly sharing as much preview information as it is. This preview isn’t meant to whine about what doesn’t work. But, what is working in this early beta version is really sweet! The entire OS runs better, is smoother and well thought out. Other details throughout the OS are, well, as Steve Jobs was fond of saying, delightful.
iOS 7 is due to be released this Fall and it really can’t come soon enough. It’s going to be a very exciting update!
Big thanks to (redacted) for letting me borrow their iPhone for a few minutes.