iOS 7: An iPhoneographer’s Preview

ios 7, iphone, camera, preview

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 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. >>>

ios7-logoIt’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.

About Marty Yawnick 1808 Articles
Marty is a self-employed graphic designer in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. He is an avid Rangers baseball, Chicago Cubs, Packers and Highbury Arsenal fan. In addition to capturing random moments with whatever camera is close by (usually his iPhone), his other interests include coffee, film, music, and traveling in seats 5E and 5F with his fiancé.
  • Trond

    Still, if it breaks Kitcam and Photoforge…

    • Marty Yawnick

      There’s no telling. Honestly, right now, it breaks a lot of things….

      Still a beta. A pretty one, but a beta.


  • Jackson Mah

    I’ve read up a lot of this beta – it is a totally re-introduce of iOS.
    But I am a little bit disappointed to know from you that the camera remains as what we all have known from WWDC. I hope that Apple should live up to their commercial on photo-shooting. Most likely not in the final release, but I do hope that more features to be added to native camera, such as more framing during shoot (not just square), more in-depth editing within camera app (contrast, hue), some simple caption adding perhaps…

  • Matt_in_FL

    I’ve been using it for a little while now. The first beta was a little rough around the edges. This newest drop of beta 2 is pretty stable (or has been for me, anyway). Overall, I’d say that though I was skeptical from the early screenshots of it, I really dig this update. There’s a few really great additions (like control center, which should have been there since the beginning) but overall, it works more or less like the iOS that we have grown to know and love with the usual float of usability improvements that a new version of iOS always brings with it, but it LOOKS amazingly different. The ‘flat’ design that you hear about is really a misnomer in this case. Yes, the icons and such are ‘flat’, but the parallax element that they have added gives this version of iOS a feel of depth unlike anything I’ve seen. Also, the transitions between springboard area, folder and app are absolutely stunning. It’s a sort of flying between apps/screens that’s just very nice and fluid. Earth shattering? No. Cool? Yeah.

    As for the camera, I think Marty is spot on. It’s a good evolution to the standard camera. It doesn’t do anything that will make you delete any of your existing camera replacement / enhancement apps, really… but it definitely is a more useable casual camera than before. The HDR and flash settings are much more accessible and easy to use as is switching between camera, video, and the new square mode. Definitely better.

  • denjes2

    I’ve been using the beta for less than a week. Just updated to latest version. Everything that I have works except Hipstamatic, Oggl, and Polamatic. Photoforge and Kitcam do work. And I really like it so far.

    • Marty Yawnick

      With months to go before the actual release, that’s good to hear. Thanks for the update! =M=

    • Matt_in_FL

      Same experience here. I don’t have any apps that are not working right now. The only ones that are really exhibiting any unusual behavior at all for me are the stock Apple apps (iTunes Music, Siri, messages, etc), but I would chalk that up to them all being in the throes of major transitions and I’d expect they will work those bugs out before the real launch.

  • SpicyLizard

    I’ve installed iOS7 beta 2 on my iPhone 4 and there are two things I really don´t like about the new camera app. First, the shutter button no longer works on release, so this behavior can easily cause unwanted blurry photos… And second, camera app now uses the whole display as viewfinder and there is crop on long sides of an image. even with “square” mode you don´t see the whole scene that will be captured…