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Ars Technica Reviews iOS 7 233

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the flat-is-in dept.
Ars Technica has posted a pretty thorough review of iOS 7, which brings a few radical changes to at least the visual design of the system. From the article: "In one sense, iOS 7 changes nearly everything about iOS. A couple of wallpapers have made the jump, but otherwise you'd be hard-pressed to find anything in iOS 7 that looks quite like it did in iOS 6. In another sense, iOS 7 is the latest in a string of incremental updates. It adds a few new features and changes some existing ones, but this doesn't radically alter the way that you use the OS from day to day." Breaking with the design trajectory of the last few releases of most of Apple's software, the oft maligned skeumorphism of the interface has been considerably toned down.
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Ars Technica Reviews iOS 7

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  • by kaka.mala.vachva (1164605) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @11:01AM (#44883991)
    My problem with my wife's iPhone is that everything about the app has to be on-screen - no "menu" or "back" buttons like android. Clutters up the screen needlessly in some apps - and getting to the settings for the app means leaving the app, something I really dislike. Apparently I'm not the only one who dislikes that - my wife, who should fit the ideal iPhone use profile, dislikes it too - to the extent that she prefers to use my phone and doesn't want an iPhone anymore. Has Apple added extra buttons for a menu and a back button? That would be the most useful UI design change.
  • Re:Skip to page 6 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @11:13AM (#44884109)

    Ars used to be a tech site. Now they're a news site, with a slight tech leaning. Oh, and anything you post there, they'll turn into a news story if it will get them ad clicks. They'll out your girlfriend/boyfriend as well.

    They've said they want to join the ranks of journalists and not just be a tech board. Unfortunately, the journalists they've joined are the National Enquirer and Daily Mail.

  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @11:40AM (#44884353)

    The only reason skeumorphism is maligned is because it's become unfashionable, not because of any inherent flaw in the aesthetic. Mind you, I've a big fan of Microsoft's flat look, but I also think Apple's former approach was distinctive and quite good. All it needed was a refresh, akin to what Google has done with their aesthetic. Instead, Apple goes and dumps the design resulting in a design that looks like Android with a bit of Windows Phone mixed in. Fortunately for Apple, unlike any other company on Earth, they're being lavished with praise instead of maligned for coming up with such a derivative design.

    I get the impression that Apple well aware of how derivative the OS feels, hence the low contrast aesthetic and heavy use of blur filters. The problem is that there isn't enough contrast throughout; at times it feels like trying to use the phone through a frosted screen protector. This isn't helped by the fact that Apple's designers generally seem a too impressed with themselves. So they approached the design with the mindset that too much of a good thing is a great thing. And they're so intent on your savoring their design that they actually hinder usability, as evidenced by the slower animations.

    There are plenty of things that iOS has never done right. The argument Apple fans inevitably use to defend iOS is that it "just works". But all that means is that they're used to Apple's particular set of quirks and are unwilling to learning anything new. With Windows Phone, personal preferences aside, at least it's evident that Microsoft placed clarity of the UI and user experience as high priorities. They dropped the ball in a few aspects, the lack of a traditional notifications list and quick-access control center being two examples. But otherwise the experience is excellent. It seems Apple's only goal was to make iOS 7 look relevant by following prevailing design trends which, ironically, Microsoft helped establish.

    If the future of smartphones is at the software level, then Apple is screwed because that's where they're furthest behind. The only thing they've still got going for them is the App Store and even there their days are numbered.

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @12:07PM (#44884593)

    In the post-WWII era, there was an architectural trend called Brutalism. This school of thought held that ornamentation was unnecessary and that buildings were "machines for living in". They should therefore be made out of raw, unadorned concrete. These buildings are still around, especially in large cities, and most people hate them. Turns out that functionality isn't enough; people actually want things to look nice.

    It appears that UI designers are in the process of making the same mistakes that architects did decades ago. The new crusade against "skeuomorphism" is, in practice, a campaign for ugly square boxes with low-color icons. It's basically a return to the graphics of the early 1990s, except this time there isn't the excuse of technical limitations to justify it. I had hoped that this trend would stop with Windows 8, but for some inexplicable reason, Apple seems to have decided to degrade their far superior touch OS to a similar degree. The sublime beauty of Aero and iOS 6 gives way to the stark ugliness of Metro and iOS 7. For God's sake, why?

  • by Ravaldy (2621787) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @12:08PM (#44884603)

    From a interface stand point I find the Windows Phone to provide the best experience. The new iOS does nothing but pretty up and old way of using a mobile device. I know I'm going to get the boot for mentioning an MS product on /. but if you try one you will agree with me that it is a very good experience. Like the Android phone it has a back button.

    FYI, I have owned all 3 phones. More recently I have purchased an S3 but use a Ativ day to day. Best phone I owned.

  • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@wor f . n et> on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @12:09PM (#44884607)

    Although I'd agree with you, it's important to note that this only applies to Samsung phones (and maybe HTC, I've never had one). Stock android (ie. google) phones have a back button, but no menu. They rely on "in-app" onscreen menus.

    That's an Android 4.0 thing, actually. The menu button is deprecated and having used both Android and iOS, I really dislike the menu button.

    I tend to find it easily forgettable - and it seems a lot of devs like to hide essential functionality inside a menu leading to all sorts of "this app doesn't have X feature" type things because people forget to hit the menu bar.

    Since ICS, it's a LOT better - the triple dot thing isn't intuitive, but at least it seems to imply tapping it does something when it shows up.

    As for back, I do prefer the iOS way - the pentagon at the top telling you where you're going back to (especially if you're entering a screen layout from multiple paths). Of course, it's very frustrating in things that don't obey the conventions like games that put the back button on some other corner of the screen. Or on Android where the back button may or may not work in a game.

    In the end, it comes down to preferences. I prefer the iOS way where an app is forced to expose all its functionality and not hide it. I think this comes from the whole "single mouse button" mentality where you're not supposed to hide any functions that are only accessible via a right-click menu. I'm sure everyone has dozens of applications on Windows and Linux where unless you right click, you won't realize there's a lot more depth to what can be done.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @01:07PM (#44885199) Homepage

    Here goes my karma, but it has to be pointed out:

    1) Icons and dialogs are "flat" (similar to Windows 7, etc.)

    Like Android.

    3) There's more content on the screen when browsing because common toolbars are shorter or disappear when not in use

    Like Chrome for Android and the stock Android browser.

    5) settings page accessible from home screen

    Like Android.

    6) full multitasking and better app switcher.

    Kinda, most apps still can't really process in the background the way they do on a true multitasking OS. For example I run a speed camera warning app in the background with voice alerts, with GMaps/navigation on top, and another podcast app in the background but able to respond to play/pause /skip buttons.

    10) revamped notifications and alerts

    Like Android. Really, the cheek of ripping off the notification shade and still complaining about other companies copying them is beyond a joke.

    11) all sorts of API improvements, the benefits of which will only become apparent when apps start to implement them right

    Nice try.

    12) revamped app updates

    Like Android. For example the availability of old versions of apps for older version of iOS (I thought there was no fragmentation?!?) is something Android users have enjoyed for quite some time now.

    Bye bye karma, it was nice knowin' ya.

  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @01:20PM (#44885351)

    I agree with you in principle, but what you're describing applies mostly to desktop OSs. Visual consistency is expected when you're dealing with a windowed environment. While it's ideal, however, that all apps follow operating system conventions I don't think it's critical, by any stretch of the imagination. I'd rather see an app optimized for it's particular function than a slave to OS aesthetic requirements. That said, core system functions should remain consistent across the board.

    I do find it a bit amusing that you mention visual visual consistency in MacOS being taken for granted considering that they're one of the worst offenders of pointlessly inconsistent interfaces. Look at iCal and the whole iLife suite. But I never considered it to be a problem; I liked the whimsy.

    A mobile OS, however, follows a different set of rules. All apps run full screen so there's less dependency on any single template. And the fact is that the range of functionality is so vast that there's no realistic hope of imposing a single experience beyond certain core functions. I do think Android handles it reasonably well with a tool bar. However, persistence is valuable and that's why I prefer Android's old approach where, like Windows Phone, you have ever present capacitive buttons. Sure, there's the annoyance of accidental presses, but at least I can quickly access home or other functions without that functionality consuming screen real estate.

    Currently, however, no one offers a consistent experience like Windows Phone does. It's on a level even Apple can't match, and from which they've strayed with iOS 7. Although, given Microsoft's track record they'll probably screw it up at some point.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @01:22PM (#44885373) Homepage

    Flat UIs are not brutalist, they are minimalist. People like minimalism, and it works well in a UI because it simplifies and unclutters. Of course not everyone does it well, but in principal it is a good way to design an interface.

    In any case, brutalism isn't what you seem to think it is. The idea behind brutalism was not that ornamentation was unnecessary, and in fact most brutalist buildings feature adornments like jutting out sections or spiral ramps into car parks. Brutalism tries to expose the way the building works and the way human beings use it, rather than hiding it behind walls or drawing the eye away with features and exterior windows. Few people like it but not because it is unadorned, because it is adorned with angular concrete features that are rarely maintained or cleaned properly.

  • by Wraithlyn (133796) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @03:05PM (#44886507)

    Oh yes. Your poor, poor karma. Because Slashdot adores Apple and hates Android. What a brave, bold stance you have taken.

    Are you fucking high? Or just playing the old cliched "I know I'm going to get downvoted for this, but..." karma whoring trick?

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