On the day of its launch, I offered very early thoughts on running iOS 7 on iPhone 5 after I had used it for less than an hour. I was still waiting for most of my 3rd-party apps to install, so I was certainly in no position to offer a proper review of the beta version of iOS 7. In fact, 3 days later, I’m still not.
Whilst I believe that reviewers need to spend days with a device to really offer a proper opinion on it, 3 days is long enough to be able to share some more views on where iOS 7 hits the mark and more importantly, where it misses. And misses by some considerable margin, it has to be said.
So, I’ve been using iOS 7 beta 1 for three days, and that’s included 14 hours or so out of the house, both working and travelling. The iPhone has had plenty of use, so I’m starting to become a little more familiar with the iOS 7 way of doing things than I was this time before launch. The novelty has also worn off slightly, and the high that always follows a polished WWDC keynote has certainly begun to wear off. I’m back on terra firma now, so where does iOS 7 stand?
Well, it’s not bad. Not great, but not bad for a first attempt. That is, I’m more interested to see what beta 4 or 5 looks like in a matter of month, and that’s because there are plenty of annoyances that I hope Apple gets around to fixing before shipping time rolls along.
See, after three days of use I find myself ready to write about what’s wrong with iOS 7 beta, rather than to say what’s good about it. It’s certainly a big change for Apple, but it’s also undoubtedly laden with problems. Not least of which would have to be those icons.
iOS 6 on left vs iOS 7 beta on right.
When someone told John Gruber that iOS 7 would be polarizing, they most certainly were not wrong. The icons have caused something of a stir, and I’m more inclined to say that they look like a child drew them than I am to extoll the virtues of the design team that created them. I’m no fan, and apparently I’m not alone. (see: iOS 7 vs iOS 6 – Side by side visual comparison [Images])
Battery life was initially no worse than other early beta releases, and I’ve found that it’s made it through the day without too many problems, just as the handset did before. Those with huge battery drainage may wish to restart their phone, as I noticed a similar thing overnight when the stats showed a usage time that was the same as the standby time. A restart sorted that pretty quickly!
Now you’ll notice I started that paragraph saying battery life was initially ok. That’s because after the phone’s second charge, I managed to go through an entire battery in around 12 hours. I also started getting notifications twice, so something was definitely wrong. Since then, on its third charge, battery life has been much improved. According to some of my Twitter followers, they too noticed that the 2nd charge seemed to trigger poor battery life. I’m not sure if the phones were doing something, or if it was just a coincidence and we’ll probably never know. Conspiracy theorists, it’s over to you!
Perhaps my biggest irritation right now is the host of transitions Apple has added, or at least changed, in iOS 7. Now, everything from exiting an app to opening a folder seems to be accompanied by a drawn out transition that takes twice as long as it needs to. It’s not a case of the iPhone not being able to keep up, but rather Apple having the timings all set a little too long. It’s something that will no doubt change, and it needs to.
Apart from that, I’m getting double notifications occasionally as data pours in. It gets really annoying at times, but hey, it’s a beta release, and these kinds of things are to be expected.
But that’s what betas are for. This is the first shot at iOS 7 that Apple has made available, and as developers and testers file bug reports and Apple realizes that some of its design choices were a little wide of the mark, hopefully iOS 7 will come into its own. If not, well, we can’t do a great deal about it anyway. I doubt iOS 8 will see Apple revert to iOS 6 designs, so we’re stuck with the new flat, bright interface Apple introduced at WWDC this week.
Beta 1 isn’t a bad start, but I’m ready for betas 2,3,4 and 5 already.