I’ve had it for about three months now. We’re finally building an IOS app (really)– so I used the developer account to download the beta on my iPhone in June. And despite a rocky start, the update is fantastic.
A lot of people will tell you that it’s just a new coat of paint, and in many ways, it is. But it’s much more than that. You’ll also hear that it’s flat. And while that’s true from a purely design aesthetic, in practice that’s not the case at all. As is often pointed out by John Gruber of Daring Fireball (a Philly guy who roots for the Yankees– but we won’t hold it against him), IOS 7 is anything but flat. It’s full of layers: There’s your background. Your home (and lock) screens sit on top of that. Multitasking windows and folders zoom from there. And finally, you have your notifications and control panel, which can be swiped down and up from the top and bottom of the screen, respectively. So while it looks flat, the operating system is actually a series of layers, giving you a sense of context at all times. Jony Ive* isn’t blowing smoke when he says that.
Apps zoom in and out intuitively. Folders zoom in logically to show their apps. And the parallax effect of the home screen does, indeed, give you a sense of depth– all of it done without phony shadows or lighting.
Now I’ll be honest, the first two betas were awful. Barely worked. Nearly bricked my 4S. But since the third beta and onward (I think they made it up to six or seven), it’s worked fine. There have been some minor, yet important, tweaks throughout that process: the swipe-to-unlock button is no longer confusing (yes, that was actually a thing), fonts are just a bit thicker and more readable, the phone controls have changed slightly, and there have been other minor interface tweaks. But it’s basically what you see in the video. And it works great.
You’ll find most of the layout is familiar enough. Everything is where you would expect it to be, only there are no longer “buttons.” Instead, most interface elements are text or wireframes. Those might take some time to get used to since, for example, the share button now looks like a box with an arrow and it doesn’t make any sense. But most everything else does, and it all looks lighter, feels smoother and smells cleaner. There are lots more swipe gestures, too. You’ll have to learn those.
Overall, it’s not that different from a usability standpoint and it shouldn’t take you long to get used to. But there’s a lot going on with the depth and general design that turns what was previously a static experience into a dynamic, fluid and logical one.
According to my Google analytics, about 80% of you use IOS. So most of your experiiii are going to change. But trust me, it’s for the better. Go get it– your update is available.
*I could listen to Jony Ive read the epilepsy warning on a video game package and find it enjoyable. “Yeah, you know what– you’re right, Jony. I will turn GTA V off when I start seeing random colored spots.”