The Good, the Bad and the Ugly New iOS 7 Features

CIO.com blogger James A. Martin says there's a lot to like in Apple's new iOS 7 software. But a few things are worthy of a "meh" and a couple just aren’t cool at all.

On Wednesday I downloaded, installed and tinkered with Apple's brand new iOS 7 software. Here are 12 features that I love, feel ambivalent toward or just don’t like at all.

Good: iOS 7 automatically updates your apps, if you want it to. You see an option to enable the feature the first time you update your apps. Thank you, Apple!

Good: Swiping right on an email in iOS 7 lets you delete the message, as always. But now it also reveals a "More" icon that you can tap to see more options, including the ability to move the email into a folder, mark it as unread or mark it as "junk." With so many third-party apps vying to be your go-to iOS mail app, Apple seriously needed to beef up Mail—and it did, with this and other enhancements.  

Good: You can swipe from left to right within supported iOS 7 apps to jump back a screen. In Mail, for instance, a swipe takes you to your mailboxes. Huge improvement? Nope. Convenient? Yep.

Good: At last: Smart photo sorting in the Photos App. Pictures and videos are automatically organized geographically and chronologically, making it easy to go right to your vacation or other time-and-place-specific images.

iOS%207%20camera%20app%20sorting%20feature.jpg

Good: The Today screen in Notification Center shows your day at a glance, including weather and calendar appointments, as well as a quick look at what’s coming tomorrow.

Good: I love the new Control Center. Swipe up on any screen, and you get access to Airplane mode, Do Not Disturb, the screen brightness slider, volume slider, AirDrop, AirPlay, a flashlight and more.

Ugly: You may need to delete stuff to download iOS 7. I had just under 1GB of free space on my iPhone 5 (16GB model) and was told I needed at least 3.1GB to download iOS 7. So off I went, deleting apps, music, and photos to make room. Fortunately, the OS only takes up about 750MB when installed, so I could reinstall most of what I deleted. But I didn’t; it was time to clean house anyway.

iOS 7 storage message

Ugly: The new interface is appealing, but in some cases legibility gets thrown under the bus. For instance, the light-white typeface on app icons can be difficult to read. You can adjust this by going into Settings > General > Accessibility and turning on Bold Text. You can also turn on the "Increase Contrast" feature.

Ugly: With the new interface, there is a slight learning curve. And there’s no associated tutorial within the OS.

Example: You may find yourself searching for Spotlight search. Previously, it was easy to access by tapping the iDevice home button when you were on the home screen. I use Spotlight a lot to quickly call up lesser-used apps hiding on my iDevices.

To access Spotlight now you tap the center of an iOS 7 screen and swipe down. The upside is that Spotlight is now available from any iOS 7 screen. Also, when you use iOS 7 for the first time, Apple displays a message explaining Spotlight's new location. But if you're eager to get going, you may not be paying close attention to that. 

Ugly: When I initially explored the ringtone options, I thought none of the old iPhone ringtones had made the transition to iOS 7. Where the hell was Marimba, the default (and signature) iPhone ringtone? But I soon discovered the old ringtones hiding under the "Classic" label, at the bottom of the alphabetized list.

The new iOS 7 default ringtone is called Opening, which is pleasant but not terribly distinctive. Other newbies are cheesy-electronic (By The Seaside, Playtime), cosmic (Constellation, Cosmic), and new agey (Crystals). Apple added new alert tones, too. 

Bad: iOS 7 changed my default passcode lock setting from "After 15 Minutes" to "Immediately." Not a big deal. But if I’d wanted my iPhone to lock "Immediately," I would’ve chosen that option.

Bad: After downloading iOS 7, it took me six tries to actually install it. Granted, I attempted to install the OS the day of its release, late in the afternoon Pacific time—which was probably peak time for Apple’s servers. But I still think Apple should have been able to predict the demand and been better prepared.

iOS 7 software unavailable

What are your first impressions of iOS 7?

CIO wants to know… Does Microsoft's Women in STEM ad veer too close to blaming the victim? Read the story, then join the conversation
Related:
New! Download the CIO March/April Digital Magazine