GADGET WATCH: iOS 7

Apple made a splash with the announcement of the iOS 7 software last month, showing off the largest change to the iPhone’s software since its release in 2007.

But it’s a polarising decision. While some have welcomed the new design, others believe it’s too much of a change in the wrong direction.

Although iOS 7 isn’t due for public release until later this year, reviewers and developers have been able to get their hands on beta versions. So what’s the consensus so far?

Hardware and features

Firstly, iOS 7 brings an updated visual design to the software. The entire software has been stripped of “skeuomorphism”, which is the visual design trend of making digital elements look like real-world objects.

Instead, apps are given a clean, flat design, with a brighter colour palette. Most of the icons for native apps have been completely redesigned.

New features include the Control Centre, which can be access with one swipe from the home screen – users can access Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi controls and audio settings from the one screen.

Multitasking has been given an update, so apps update when you’re likely to use them most, while a new feature called AirDrop allows users to send files back and forth over iOS devices.

All the native apps including Siri, Calendar, Mail, Safari and the Camera have been given new visual designs as well.

What’s the consensus?

The iOS 7 design has certainly been polarising. While some reviewers have welcomed the complete overhaul, others have taken issue with its radical design.

Over at The Verge, the publication has given a mixed review for the software, saying that while the design has changed, “whether this new design is actually good” is a different story.

The publication notes while the new icons are “striking”, there are some mishaps. For instance, the design of the icons changes from app to app.

“For starters, the icon styles vary wildly from app to app. Game Centre is now a collection of 3D globs, rendered together against a white background, while the Camera icon recalls something more like clip-art — an icon set against a rudimentary gray gradient that seems to want to be more abstract than it is. It looks shockingly basic, and more childish than elegant.”

The publication also criticised the new Control Centre, saying the feature feels too much like Apple wanted to throw in a bunch of features into one space.

“The idea is good, the execution is troubling.”

At MacWorld, the publication praised at least one entry – the use of a new privacy feature. Now, even if users lose and wipe their iPhone, you still have to enter iCloud details to unlock it again.

“Weirdly, the “Forgot your password?” prompt will still be available under this login screen, so unless you want thieves trying to brute-force your iCloud account, it might be a good idea to enable two-factor authentication or make your password hints hard to guess before iOS 7’s release.”

Gizmodo noted the music app has been given an update, with a new interface for flipping through albums, and praised the new lock screen and notification centre.

“Pulling down from the top of the screen reveals the Notification Centre, with calendar events and stock prices taking priority by default. Instead of a long list of items, the new Notification Centre shows you the next few hours of your day in calendar format and also offers some basic info about tomorrow.”

“This means that you feel like you’re getting a note from your personal assistant about your missed calls and your schedule instead of the pile of crumpled up Post-It notes that was the old Notification Centre.”

Overall, Gizmodo said most of the changes to native apps are drastic, “but once you get used to the new look, your thumb sort of takes over”.

Who’s it for?

Clearly the iOS 7 software is a departure from previous versions, so much so as to make this a potential point of departure for some users.

While it’ll be best to wait until the software is available and then give it a try yourself, it’s clear this version of iOS will be the most polarising. Check it out for a while, but be prepared for major changes.

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