I've been playing around with iOS 7 beta for a few days now and I wanted to share my first impressions on how it has been so far. Of course, this software isn't ready for prime time, but we sort of get the gist of where this is going. I'd also recommend not installing iOS 7 beta right now because of that reason.
Control center is a nice addition and it's a long time coming. One of the controls I've wanted a long time is the brightness setting, so I'm glad control center lets me get to that in a quick swipe. One complaint I have about control center is that it feels a little cluttered. Personally, I could do without the app shortcuts at the bottom and music track time.
The first thing I noticed to the changes with Notification Center is that the weather and twitter/Facebook share buttons are gone and as far as I can tell there's no way to get them back. I actually used these on occasion, so I was a little sad to see them go, but it's not a deal breaker for me. One thing that they didn't add was a way to clear all notifciations. You'll still have to tap on the still tiny X twice to dismiss items. I was hoping that I could swipe to get to the different sections in my Notification Center, but unfortunately, you can't. Banner notifications are also a bit taller and now can pull them down to open Notification Center. If you want to quickly dismiss a banner alert, just swipe on it and it'll go away immediately.
I haven't really seen any differences with Multitasking, probably because app developers haven't had enough time to update their apps to take advantage of that. Aside from the more visual presentation, I'm pretty indifferent about the app switching. If you're like me and you never close apps and you tend to just switch between your most recent apps, you'll might feel the same way.
Camera and Photos
The new camera app feels pretty fast and I'm liking the UI. Being able to switch between picture and video mode with a swipe is a lot easier than tapping a toggle, something I've surprisingly had trouble with before. I'm not a big filter guy, but they're easy to get to and they work.
I like the addition of grouping photos into collections in the Photos app. It's definitely a lot easier to find pictures from a particular trip or event, something that I wish I had when I was using iOS. If you really hate this view, you can still just look at your cameral roll like normal in the Album view. I'm not sure if it's a bug, but I'm seeing some photos grouped on the wrong date, but I think this is because I exported it from an app a different time from when I actually took the photos.
Safari borrowed/stole the tab interface from Chrome, so it's a lot easier to scroll through your open pages. The tabs suffer from the tiny close buttons we all know too well from Notifciation center, but fortunately, you can swipe to close them, but this only works if you swipe right to left for some reason. Another nice gesture is being able to go forward/back by swiping on a webpage, probably my favorite new feature on Safari. The search and address bar are now a in a single field, which I don't really like. If you want to do a search, you tap into the field, but the keyboard will always display the .com button. I keep finding myself hitting the .com button when I mean to hit the space. A minor annoyance, but still rage worthy when I accidentally type 'miley.comcyrus.party.comin.comthe.comusa'.
I haven't played around with iTunes Radio too much, but I did pull up the 'Old School Hip Hop' station and it proceeded to play back-to-back 50 Cent tracks. Not sure if I'd consider 50 Cent old school, but I still partied like it was my birthday.
Design-wise, I like that their doing something different. A lot of people dislike the new design, but I can say that I do experience a level of enjoyment using iOS 7. Not sure how to explain it, but I like that there's less visual cruft in my face. It's new, but still the same. Jonny Ive can probably explain this better than me.
That said, I think they could pull it back a little in a few areas. Sometimes I wish things I can tap had some depth and looked tapable. The new gestures add a new level of ease to get around, but it's hard to figure out where these exist.
A good example of an area that needs some tweakage is the lock screen. They have the text 'slide to unlock', an arrow point upward, and a camera icon wedged into the lower right corner. With the presence of that arrow, at first glance I thought they changed it to slide up to unlock. Nope. The arrow is for Control Center and you still slide left to right to unlock the phone. You can actually swipe left to right on any part of the screen to unlock, well, unless you have notifications. Then you swipe anywhere outside of your notifications. The only indicator of the direction of you swipe is the slight sheen animation over the text. Going back to the camera icon, it takes a little effort to open the camera app. Because it's so close to the edge of the screen, you'll probably accidentally open Control Center a few times.
People are really steamed about the new app icons, but I'd be ok with them with a few tweaks. Something like this: dribbble.com/shots/1109343-iOS-7-Redesign.
One thing I am steamed about are folders. Before you could view up to 12 apps in a folder, but in iOS 7 it's limited to 9. I get that you can add an unlimited number of apps in the folder, but I really liked having the higher API (apps per inch).
So I know Apple wants to know what I want changed in iOS 7. Here's some things I'd like to see changed between now and the release:
- Add more gestures - Notification Center, going forward and back in Settings
- Go back to 12 apps per page in the folders
- Speed up the transitions and animations. Moving in and out of folders, going from lock screen to homescreen, leaving apps for the homescreen, this all takes longer than it did in iOS 6. I'm such a complainy pants.