iOS 7 beta hands-on and first impressions

Sections: Features, Hands On / First Looks, iDevice Apps, iPhone, iPhone OS, SDK and hacks, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad

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ios 7 beta

By now, you all know the iOS 7 Beta is available for developers (it won’t be available for all of us until September). I have the iOS 7 Beta on my iPhone 5, and what can I say? iOS 7 blows me away. Apple did it again, successfully revitalizing an otherwise aging mobile OS and transforming it to something fresh. I can bravely say iOS 7 is a cleaner, leaner, and simpler version of Android.

Of course, it’s still in beta, but is Apple is pushing this in the right direction, and I have no doubt that iOs 7 will be loved by many and hated by few.

With that, let me share with you now my initial impressions of iOS 7 Beta.

iOS 7 Beta user interface

At first, I didn’t setup my iPhone to get its previous back-up and just let it run as a new iPhone. So, the first screen that greeted me was the default homescreen background which is so light and pleasing to the eyes. It immediately attracts you to continue exploring. If you’ve watched the WWDC keynote, you must have heard of the Parallax effect. Well, hats off to Apple for this effect as it certainly keeps you glued to your iPhone’s screen to appreciate how this comes into effect. When you move your iPhone, the app icons stay in place while some aspects in the background moves.

I then tried locking the iPhone and unlocking it again. This is now done via a swipe to the right, but minus the arrow that points to the right. Apple assumes that by now, we all know how to unlock the iPhone screen. So, no more direction arrows there; what remains is the “slide to unlock” message.

What makes iOS 7 seemingly different from previous versions of iOS are the new icons employed by Apple. The “flat” design may not please all iPhone users, but Apple has to do it to make the translucent background with parallax view effective. In time, you’ll learn to appreciate the merits of these “flat” icons. And please, don’t get started on the design inconsistencies of the icons of the default iPhone apps. For the average iPhone user, it doesn’t matter at all. For as long as you can tap on an icon and it fires the app, well, that will be enough.

iOS 7 Beta Control Center

This is a new feature of iOS 7 that many iPhone users will appreciate, even if critics say this is copied from Android. Apple made the Android control panel simpler and yet more pleasing to use. Control Center gives you toggle buttons for airplane mode, wi-fi, bluetooth, sleep and screen rotate.

ios 7 beta

To activate Control Center, simply flip up in any screen view.

iOS 7 Beta Multitasking

Apple has cleverly revamped the multitasking feature of iOS by adapting what it uses for open pages in Safari Mobile. Open apps now appear via preview screens which you can swipe up to close.

ios 7 beta

iOS 7 Camera and Photo App

The default iOS photo app was also one of the highlighted features of iOS 7 during WWDC. Apple has every reason to brag about this new photo app because it will make you browse your photo collection more often than before. Grouping photos by collection, moments and years is pretty smart, indeed, and will make the average iPhone users love the app even more.

As for the Camera app, this too was given a few minor tweaks. Specifically, there’s now a new square option for taking photos in addition to normal, pano and video. After taking photos, you’ll also be able to use some nice filters. And yes, you can now zoom in when recording video.

iOS 7 iTunes Radio

Ah, finally, one feature I’m starting to love. iTunes Radio is Apple’s babysteps in competing against Pandora, Spotify, Google Music’s Free Access and other similar services. It’s closely integrated with the iTunes Music store, giving you easier access into purchasing music that you chance upon while listening to iTunes Radio.

ios 7 beta

So far, I haven’t encountered any problems at all. Streaming is top-notch even on the not-so-good 3G network that my iPhone 5 runs on. Music quality is the best that radio streaming can offer; not so great, and yet not so bad. I’m looking forward to more improvements of this feature.

Final Thoughts

These are just some of the new features that iOS 7 is bringing into the iOS table come fall; there are certainly more features to discover and explore. But so far, with the new features I’ve tried and with the design changes that I’ve seen in iOS 7, I will have to say that Apple did it again. It has successfully “re-engineered” iOS. Apple has given its aging mobile OS a new leash of life.

What Apple needs now is to come up with interesting hardware that will carry the new iOS 7, aside from the current crop of iOS devices. Once settled, then it will be Samsung’s turn to “re-engineer” their mobile products.

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  • Jenn R

    Please tell me Apple finally made texts able to be marked as unread. That’s one of my biggest issues with iOS! I miss replying to messages, and have accidentally texted the wrong person because it automatically opens the next unread text.