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Arguably a week late due to Apple’s developer portal security breach and then that portal subsequently being offline for far, far too long, iOS 7 beta 4 is now finally in the hands of developers. Three weeks after the third beta was pushed out, this new fourth iteration brings with it the usual raft of interface changes as well as some tweaks under the hood. I’ve been using it for a good few hours at this point, and following on from my previous posts along the same vein, here’s how beta 4 is shaping up in these early hours after I updated my iPhone 5.

You don’t need to be some kind of ninja in order to get your hands on a change log for iOS 7 betas, and the fourth release is not much different to the three that came before it. I suspect the ones that come after it won’t differ a great deal either, but with iOS 7 being such a departure from the norm, and with so many changes shaking iOS users to their very core, this release of Apple’s iPhone and iPad software is as much about how it makes us feel as it is how it works at a fundamental level. After a few hours of use, beta 4 already feels rather different to the release that came before it.

beta 4 multitasking

Possibly a minor change, but one that new users and iOS novices will be very grateful for, is the removal of the lock screen arrow that implied an upwards swipe would unlock the device. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of iOS would know that a horizontal swipe is needed in order to get into the device, but that doesn’t make it good design. It’s a little change that makes much, much more sense now. We just wonder why it took four goes before they got it right.

beta 4 lock screen

As seems to be the case with each of these beta releases, Apple has tweaked and improved the animations that iOS 7 seems to favor so much. The interface flies around the screen in a noticeably snappier fashion than it did in beta 3, and that was an improvement over everything that came before it. With each beta release Apple seems to be improving transition times, making us wait less and less time before we can get on with what we need to do. Fancy transitions are great, but don’t make me watch them happen when I should be tapping things!

beta 4 spotlight

In the few short hours I’ve been using iOS 7 beta 4, I’ve not had the usual lock-ups or reboots/crashed apps that seemed to plague beta 3, though obviously it’s far too early to count our chickens in that regard. There are clearly things going on under the hood in iOS 7 beta that plenty of existing apps just don’t like, but as with all big operating system releases for any platform, it’s only a matter of time before developers get their software updated accordingly. Let’s hope the likes of Google+ and Skype get updated soon, though!

beta 4 CC

Overall, iOS 7 beta 4 feels more polished, almost more finished than earlier betas, and that’s exactly how it should be. We’re still quite some way away from the finished article and indeed, a public release of iOS 7. It’s clear Apple’s got some more work to do, though, and I’m sure beta 5 will be better still.

Hopefully we’ll find out in a couple of weeks.

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