Hands-on with iOS 7 – Five things we lost in the new OS

Sections: Features, Hands On / First Looks, iDevice Apps, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad

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iOS 7 has been out in the wild a couple of days now, and we’re all still basking in the vibrantly pastel glow of new transparency effects, wiggling our phones to watch the parallax, and appreciating the subtle goodness of gradients in our icons. While Apple’s annual refresh cycle gives us something to look forward to every year, it’s worthwhile to pause and see what didn’t make it into the new version.

Here’s a list (in no particular order) of iOS features/behaviors to which we bid adieu in iOS 7. The changes are a mixed bag; some new features are clearly superior to the ones they replace, while others mess with features that weren’t really broken to begin with. Unlike previous iterations of iOS, this one is a drastic change, so it’s not to difficult to see what’s different. The question is, what do these mean?

  1. The remnants of Aqua: The iOS 7 visual interface is obviously the biggest difference, but please, let’s refrain from calling it “flat.” Yes, Jony Ive chucked out the ridiculously overdone textures, but unlike Windows Phone, iOS 7 doesn’t look like somebody steamrolled it. The new OS still has textures (check out Notes), shadows, and movement (notice how apps seem to jump out of their icons when you launch them). Faux felt was the logical extension of Aqua’s lickable buttons, but it’s been kicked to the curb along with pinstripes and linen. Also gone is the flip animation for adding new stock symbols and weather locations; this was ripped straight from the OS X Dashboard. Verdict: Good Change
  2. Sounds: First and foremost, plugging in your iPhone/iPad no longer causes that awful shriek—now you get a nice glassy hum. Verdict: Extra Super Great Change.
    Also, the iPhone’s default ringtone, “Marimba” and text message alert, “Tri-tone” have been replaced by “Opening” and “Note.” Marimba is still available under the Classic category for ringtones (Verdict: Good Change), but the Tri-tone in iOS 7 isn’t quite the same as it was in iOS 1-6. (Verdict: Bad Change. Why, Apple?)
  3. Pandora: Okay, iOS 7 didn’t really kick Pandora out of the App Store, but with streaming radio integrated into the Music app, who’s going to launch a separate app? In less than 24 hours I’ve already recreated my top three stations in iTunes Radio, yet it took me months to fine tune them in Pandora. The ability to easily share stations will likely draw even existing Pandora listeners in, as their friends/family share stations with them. Verdict: Possibly Good (if iTunes Radio turns out better than Ping).
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  4. Static Backgrounds: Dynamic or animated wallpaper has been a staple of the Android world for years, and my hope is that Apple felt confident enough to introduce it now because the iPhone’s battery is finally large enough. While it conveys useful information in the weather app, these animated backgrounds are insidious power drains when used as a wallpaper. Verdict: Bad Changeios7 2
  5. Boundaries: iOS 7’s visual space extends above and below the screen; any top/bottom navigation bars float above the content using a killer translucency effect. Even the icons on your home screen float above the background thanks to the parallax effect, which really serves to make your iDevice’s screen feel bigger. While the loss of the boxed-in visual metaphors employed by previous iOS versions is shocking, it shows Apple still knows how to think different…no matter what wall street might say. Verdict: Crucially Good Change.
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  • Marcel

    I’ve lost one more very important thing: The map in the Potos-App!
    As all my photos were geotagged I used to browse my library by places, or to show of where on the globe I’ve already been. Not possible anymore…

  • Aaron Kraus

    Actually, the map view is still present in the Photos app, it’s just a little different than it used to be. Most Photos app views show a list of locations, and all you have to do is tap those locations. That bumps you out to a Maps view that’s pretty much the same as the old iOS 6 app.

  • Marcel

    Well… No.

    There are just locations of that one event. I can’t find all pictures from my US-Travels at a glance for example, instead I have to scroll through the years an search for those “events”

    Verdict: Bad Change

  • ed berlage

    I used to delete. mail by just wiping left to right. Now I have to go through the cumbersome delete procedure! Bad change!

    • Aaron Kraus

      You can actually still swipe to delete mail, but you have to swipe right-to-left. I never understood why the original iPhone supported the left-to-right swipe to delete messages, since the animation for that Delete button plays from right-to-left. It’s like you’re pushing the message header leftward to see those delete options.
      Some apps, like Facebook, even support different features when swiping l-to-r (search/friends/groups) versus r-to-l (chat), so it’s obviously important to differentiate between the two.

  • Strither Scott

    They have taken away showing the exact URL you are on with Safari . They just show the but not the full longer URL and it doesn’t change as you move around a website. TERRIBLE

    • Aaron Kraus

      I agree. It’s visually cleaner than before, but not as useful. I never liked the original iPhone’s habit of hiding the https:// from URLs to begin with!

  • Danielel

    Ringer is 0 & gone. Can’t have it Up even if I keep pressing the side button (+)
    How can I fix -this happened after installing IOS 7

  • Trish

    What can I turn off to slow down the battery drain? I’ve got an iphone 4s and just loaded ios7.1

  • Aaron Kraus

    @Trish – I’d suggest a few things, including disabling the motion effects and using a static (not dynamic) wallpaper. You might also look at disabling Background App Refresh and Automatic Downloads of music, books, and apps to keep your iPhone from updating too often.
    In addition, if your 4S is older, its battery may no longer hold as much charge. My 2011 iPhone 4S didn’t stand up well after the iOS update, but then it hadn’t really been a great performer under iOS 6 either!

  • Joe

    When I installed iOS7, I lost all my books as well as the Kindle App on my iPad2. When I look for the Kindle app the only thing Amazon will give me is Kindle for Android! I had several purchased books on there, hope they aren’t gone for good!