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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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  • 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
    • by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @11:10AM (#44884079)

      It's been conventional to keep all settings in the app, except for seldom-needed or particularly technical settings, for several years now. I don't know what apps you're using but I only need to drop out into Settings once every few months unless I'm modifying something system-wide.

      The idea of not including physical "back" and "menu" buttons is:

      1) Nobody's quite sure where "back" should go back to, and what menu "menu" should open
      2) You're using up space on the device on functions that not every app needs

      • by cdrudge (68377) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @11:22AM (#44884175) Homepage

        The idea of not including physical "back" and "menu" buttons is:

        1) Nobody's quite sure where "back" should go back to, and what menu "menu" should open

        Leave that up to the app to decide maybe? I've never had a problem on my Android phones understanding what the back button did after pressing it once or twice with a new app.

        With apps that have multiple screens that change, it usually takes you back a screen, such as back to the main menu. If you're at the main menu, it exits. With apps that do everything in the same screen, such as a web browser, it takes you back a page or back to your home screen. Press it again or double tap it at any point and it closes the app.

        Not saying that the indeterminate nature of letting the programmer is better or worse than the IOS nature. It's just another example where Apple has chosen to rigorously enforce what they think is best, where Android has chosen to allow the app developer or the end user what is best.

        2) You're using up space on the device on functions that not every app needs

        You mean the empty space on the left and right of the button on all iPhones that's essentially wasted? If the entire face of the phone was the screen and the phone relied exclusively on soft buttons then you'd have a point. But as it stands now, there could be buttons on either side. Look at the S4 for an example.

        • by Sockatume (732728)

          Hey, I'm just saying what the explainations are, I'm not saying they're necessarily ideal but they are rational.

          FWIW I hold my iPhone on what you view as "wasted" space when it's in landscape, so buttons - especially capacitive - are no go.

        • by mattack2 (1165421)

          Apps *do* have "back" buttons, when you go down into another layer. In some instances, it's closer to a submenu (arguably Settings in some ways).. Or it's just another page of the UI. This has always been true in iOS.

          e.g. open Podcasts, press on a specific podcast
          -> now you're in the list of podcast episodes for that specific podcast
          The upper left button is 'back'...and again, this has always been true in iPhone apps.

          There's no "back" button from the top level of an app, as has been mentioned, but that

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by BasilBrush (643681)

          Leave that up to the app to decide maybe?

          So much for design consistency.

          I've never had a problem on my Android phones understanding what the back button did after pressing it once or twice with a new app.

          And there's the fail. You shouldn't have to memorize what a standard button happens to do in this particular app.

          With apps that have multiple screens that change, it usually takes you back a screen, such as back to the main menu. If you're at the main menu, it exits. With apps that do everything in the same screen, such as a web browser, it takes you back a page or back to your home screen.

          So the same single press on a button might do one of 3 different things. Oops.

          Google invented the concept of an "Up" button to do the same as the back button, only to drop the "exit the app" function. Only that button isn't a hardware one. Partially fixing the problem, or just making it even more messy?

        • by Pieroxy (222434) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @03:13PM (#44886597) Homepage

          It's just another example where Apple has chosen to rigorously enforce what they think is best, where Android has chosen to allow the app developer or the end user what is best.

          It just goes both ways. I could equally claim that Android forces the app developer to handle a back and menu button - however useless in said app while Apple lets freedom to the developer to do whatever (s)he chooses. I could also claim Android enforce two buttons on users in a space that is usually used to hold a phone while Apple leaves this precious space free of any UI elements.

          So you see, each OS is enforcing its own vision, but you can't claim that one is enforcing their closed view while the other is enforcing freedom. This is just trollish at best.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        I'm not even an iOS developer..

        but isn't one of the new guidelines that the back button goes to the upper left corner? it sucks though that most android manufacturers have gone for non physical buttons as well.

        there's a VERY SIMPLE REASON for not having those as physical buttons. that simple reason is cost(in simplified manufacturing), a minor reason is reliability since apple can't seem to keep the buttons already in iphone actually working. for that same cost reason android manufacturers have gone with on

    • by tom229 (1640685)
      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.
      • by AuMatar (183847)

        This is actually fairly new. Pre-4.0, all devices has a hardware menu and back button. 4.0 introduced software back buttons and the on screen action bar with menu button in there. Its actually something that causes a fair amount of pain in app design and documentation (depending on screen size/density and model, an option may be an icon on the action bar, or in a menu behind a hardware button, or in a menu behind a software button on screen. Or both).

      • That is a recent change. Most android devices (except maybe the very new) have menu keys. My old Motorola did, as did the HTC and the Samsung I currently own.
      • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdotNO@SPAMworf.net> 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.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes. iOS 7 software update magically adds a physical button on her iPhone when she installs it. If the button is still not visible after the update, sticking a fist up her arse might also help.

    • by kirkc99 (2882627)

      Has Apple added extra buttons for a menu and a back button? That would be the most useful UI design change.

      There is a new "back" gesture. In some apps (e.g., Safari, Settings, Mail, etc.) a swipe to the right from the left bezel will perform a back function.

    • by thsths (31372)

      While I agree that a back button is useful, and the multi-tasking button, in addition to the obvious home button, I think Android has overdone it. In Android 2, they had back, home, menu and search buttons. In Android 4, the menu button has moved on screen, and instead there is a multi-tasking button. As much as I appreciate that Google likes a search button, I think it is just one too many.

    • "If only the iPhone copied this design fuck up from Android."

      Interesting that you should say this when back and menu hardware buttons have been deprecated from Android 3.0.

  • Wait, what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @11:03AM (#44884003)

    "iOS 7 changes nearly everything about iOS..." "...but this doesn't radically alter the way that you use the OS from day to day."

    mind blown [reactiongifs.com]

  • The short version... (Score:5, Informative)

    by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @11:05AM (#44884029)

    I RTFA'ed. The short version seems to be:
    1) Icons and dialogs are "flat" (similar to Windows 7, etc.)
    2) "iOS 7’s animations are the kind that will prompt an 'ooh, neat' upon first use and then a slowly increasing sense of frustration as you begin noticing that trivial tasks take just a bit longer than they used to."
    3) There's more content on the screen when browsing because common toolbars are shorter or disappear when not in use
    4) Safari's new tabs view is cool because it displays content on multiple tabs at once (think looking down from a 3d perspective on the old tab views)

    • by noh8rz10 (2716597) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @11:22AM (#44884171)

      I RTFA'ed. The short version seems to be:
      1) Icons and dialogs are "flat" (similar to Windows 7, etc.)
      2) "iOS 7’s animations are the kind that will prompt an 'ooh, neat' upon first use and then a slowly increasing sense of frustration as you begin noticing that trivial tasks take just a bit longer than they used to."
      3) There's more content on the screen when browsing because common toolbars are shorter or disappear when not in use
      4) Safari's new tabs view is cool because it displays content on multiple tabs at once (think looking down from a 3d perspective on the old tab views)

      5) settings page accessible from home screen
      6) full multitasking and better app switcher.
      7) User can turn multitasking off on an app-by-app basis and track cellular usage on an app-by-app basis
      8) revamped camera and photos app
      9) revamped calendar app)
      10) revamped notifications and alerts
      11) all sorts of API improvements, the benefits of which will only become apparent when apps start to implement them right
      12) revamped app updates

      That's all I can think of. Don't listen to the haters who say this is about pretty icons.

      • by mlts (1038732) *

        For #12, I'm curious about the app updates, especially the fingerprint scanner. I wonder how authentication info is passed to the app, be it a salted value, or an "ACK/NAK" return.

        If I were writing an app that used custom user private/public keys, a salted value would be useful because that could be made as part of the encryption key that is used to protected the stored private keys. With that in place, even if an attacker gets the user's screen unlock PIN and the key passphrase, the encryption keys are p

        • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

          I don't think individual apps get any access to the fingerprint thing. I think it will only be used for phone unlock, app store, and itunes store.

          The touchID will be cool, but iOS 7 is going out to many phone and ipad models that are older, so most people won't get that functionality. I have a 5 so I'm on an upgrade cycle that will make me eligible next year.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          For #12, I'm curious about the app updates, especially the fingerprint scanner. I wonder how authentication info is passed to the app, be it a salted value, or an "ACK/NAK" return.

          App updates are handled by Apple completely - you post an app on iTunes connect and whenever your phone notices, it'll update it automatically.

          Developers currently do not have access to the fingerprint reader (because there are plenty of questions on how it should work and when it should work and perhaps even stuff like can you au

          • by mlts (1038732) *

            That is disappointing. It would be nice to at the minimum be able to get an "ACK/NAK" value which would confirm usage of a security sensitive function.

            Even though it has its downsides, it is nice to have additional security, not to mention protection from people shoulder-surfing your screen unlock password.

      • by kirkc99 (2882627) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @12:21PM (#44884723)

        I RTFA'ed. The short version seems to be:
        1) Icons and dialogs are "flat" (similar to Windows 7, etc.)
        2) "iOS 7’s animations are the kind that will prompt an 'ooh, neat' upon first use and then a slowly increasing sense of frustration as you begin noticing that trivial tasks take just a bit longer than they used to."
        3) There's more content on the screen when browsing because common toolbars are shorter or disappear when not in use
        4) Safari's new tabs view is cool because it displays content on multiple tabs at once (think looking down from a 3d perspective on the old tab views)

        5) settings page accessible from home screen
        6) full multitasking and better app switcher.
        7) User can turn multitasking off on an app-by-app basis and track cellular usage on an app-by-app basis
        8) revamped camera and photos app
        9) revamped calendar app)
        10) revamped notifications and alerts
        11) all sorts of API improvements, the benefits of which will only become apparent when apps start to implement them right
        12) revamped app updates

        A few more off the top of my head...

        13) Massively improved Siri (in a week's use, she's only misunderstood me a couple of times, she responds almost instantaneously, her results are much better, and her voice is much improved--and she's out of Beta on Apple's website)
        14) App auto-updating (yes, realize this is an Android catch-up, and is somewhat a dupe of (12)...)
        15) Handy new back gesture
        16) Built-in itunes radio--handy for starting radio stations over Siri, such as while i'm on my motorcycle
        17) Multi-page folders
        18) Flickr and Vimeo deep integration
        19) The ability to block numbers for calls, SMS, MMS, iMessages, FaceTime, etc.
        20) Activation Lock
        21) Apps popular near current location
        22) Dynamic and Parallax wallpapers

        • by noh8rz10 (2716597) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @01:56PM (#44885787)

          Here's apple's list

          This update features a beautiful new design and also contains hundreds of new features, including the following:
          New design
          Redesigned interface updates the entire system and every built-in app
          Subtle motion and animation; layers and translucency provide depth
          Elegant new color palette and refined typography
          Updated system sounds and ringtones
          Control Center
          Quick access to commonly used controls and apps with a swipe up from the bottom of the screen
          Turn on & off Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb; adjust screen brightness; access media controls; turn on AirPlay and AirDrop
          Quickly access flashlight, timer, calculator, camera and music controls
          Notification Center improvements
          New Today view gives you an overview of your day, including weather, calendar, and stocks
          Notifications dismissed on one device dismisses across all your devices
          Multitasking improvements
          Preview screens of open apps when you switch between them
          Permits any app to keep content up to date in the background
          Camera improvements
          Swipe through different camera modes – video, still photo, square aspect, and panorama
          Real-time photo filters with iPhone 4S or later, and iPod touch (5th generation)
          Photos improvements
          Automatically organizes your photos and videos based on time and location into Moments
          iCloud Photo Sharing supports multiple contributors and videos, plus a new Activity view
          Add photo filter effects
          Flickr and Vimeo support
          AirDrop
          Quickly and easily share content with people nearby
          Securely encrypted transfers with no network or setup required
          Supported on iPhone 5, iPad (4th generation), iPad mini, and iPod touch (5th generation) and requires an iCloud account
          Safari improvements
          New iPhone tab view that lets you easily switch between open web pages
          Unified smart search field for both search terms and web addresses
          Shared Links shows web pages shared by people you follow on Twitter
          iTunes Radio
          Streaming radio service
          Pick from over 250 featured and genre-focused stations
          Start your own station from your favorite artist or song
          Siri improvements
          New, more natural sounding male and female voices for US English, French and German
          Integrated Wikipedia, Twitter search, and Bing web search results
          Change settings including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and brightness
          Supported on iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad with Retina display, iPad mini, and iPod touch (5th generation)
          App Store improvements
          See apps relevant to your current location with Popular Near Me
          Discover age-appropriate apps in the Kids category
          Keep your apps up to date automatically
          Find My iPhone Activation Lock
          Turning off Find My iPhone, erasing your device, reactivation, and signing out of iCloud requires your Apple ID password
          A custom message can be displayed on your device even after a remote erase
          iTunes Store improvements
          Preview and buy songs you've heard on iTunes Radio while inside the iTunes Store
          Add to, and shop from, your iTunes Wish List
          Scan code with camera to redeem iTunes Gift Cards
          Music improvements
          Play music purchases from iCloud
          Rotate your iPhone or iPod touch to browse your music with the Album Wall
          Videos improvements
          Play movie and TV show purchases from iCloud
          View similar movies and TV shows from Related
          Maps improvements
          Turn-by-turn walking directions
          Automatic night mode
          Bookmarks shared across devices via iCloud
          Mail improvements
          New Smart Mailboxes, including Unread, Attachments, All Drafts and To or CC
          Improved search
          View PDF annotations
          FaceTime audio calling
          Block unwanted Phone, Messages and FaceTime callers
          Support for sending long MMS messages
          Pull down on any Home Screen to reveal Spotlight search
          Scan to acquire Passbook passes
          New ringtones, alarms, alerts and system sounds
          Definitions of a selected word for additional languages: Italian, Korean, and Dutch
          Inclinometer in the Compass

      • by DdJ (10790) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @12:27PM (#44884785) Homepage Journal

        FYI: "full multitasking" is false.

        There are some slight improvements to the multitasking (eg. if it notices you run an app at the same time every day, it'll give it a background slice just before then so the data is fresh when you look). But it remains far from "full multitasking".

        They're trying to get to the point where most users won't notice the difference. They're not likely to ever get to the point where developers won't notice the difference.

        • This is a semantic argument. The OS has always supported full multitasking. At first, only system services ran all the time and applications paused when they weren't in the foreground. Since iOS 4, APIs were added that allowed various registration of background activities, one of which being the Task, Task Completion, and Local Notification APIs which can be trivially used to establish a thread that would keep an application doing whatever it chose to do for as long as it wanted. The thing is that the backg

          • by DdJ (10790) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @01:09PM (#44885219) Homepage Journal

            I'll agree with you that I don't see a problem with the way it happens, but it's not just a semantic argument.

            There are an awful lot of people here on slashdot who would assert that "full multitasking" means that every app has full access to its entire code path all the time, and can do anything in the background that it could do in the foreground, like desktop apps on a Linux system. That switching between foreground execution and background execution isn't even something an app has to notice.

            The reality is basically that the app can only fully run in the foreground. In other situations it, in practice, can set up little scripts or daemons to handle specific enumerated things on its behalf when it's not in the foreground.

            Some of that code fires off when a trigger condition comes up, and then have a limited time to do their business (eg. geofencing). Some keeps running in the background as long as its fulfilling a specific purpose (eg. background audio).

            Has iOS got multitasking? Yes. Has it got multitasking that's more than enough for most normal users who aren't doing exotic things? Yes.

            Has it got full multitasking? No, it really really doesn't. Just try running a Jabber client that lets you stay logged in all day long, or a mail client that downloads your mail before you open it without push notifications.

            (Of course this isn't a bad thing, as long as the multitasking it's got is sufficient. True full multitasking would actually be a bad thing.)

            • Has as it got full multitasking? No, it really really doesn't. Just try running a Jabber client that lets you stay logged in all day long, or a mail client that downloads your mail before you open it without push notifications.

              Whilst your post is generally right in the approach, and spot on for iOS6, both your examples are perfectly feasible in iOS7.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...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 noh8rz10 (2716597) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @01:38PM (#44885545)

          Sep 17: Apple suxors! the iphone lacks features found on Android!
          Sep 18: Apple suxors! they added features found on Android!

        • 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?

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            Currently at +4 Interesting, based on:

            30% Interesting
            20% Flamebait
            10% Troll

            You have to get lucky and attract enough good moderators who will mark it as "interesting" to balance out the fanbois who mod you troll/flamebait because they disagree. This time I got lucky.

        • Fallen at the first.

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

          You clearly don't know what flat icons are. Here's the latest android.
          http://www.android.com/images/restricted-profiles.png [android.com]
          These are NOT flat icons. Take a loo at the camera icon for the most obvious example. Simulated highlight and shadow is used to make the icon look 3D. Same goes for all the other icons.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            Have a look inside Google's apps, e.g. Play Store, G+, YouTube or Now. It's all flat "cards", the same as their web versions. The OS is similar, especially the icons in system apps like the dialer and calculator, or in the notification shade.

            • Have a look inside Google's apps, e.g. Play Store, G+, YouTube or Now. It's all flat "cards", the same as their web versions. The OS is similar, especially the icons in system apps like the dialer and calculator, or in the notification shade.

              On other words there's a mish-mash of pseudo 3d and flat icons. iOS 7 on the other hand has a new design entirely without pseudo 3d highlights and shadows. That's why it was compared to Windows Phone, not Android. Because Android does not have a consistently flat UI.

    • by StoneyMahoney (1488261) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @11:34AM (#44884283)

      You missed:

      5) Safari performance is up
      6) Battery life is down
      7) Non-Retina displays have legibility issues

      • by mbadolato (105588)

        5) Safari performance is up
        6) Battery life is down

        7) And we have more excellent waterslides than any other planet we communicate with.

        Sorry, had to go for a Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure tie-in. Long live Rufus!

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

      If you look at the font, you'll see it's similar to Windows 8 system font, too. It's actually surprising how much they've copied from the Windows ecosystem here. The shoe is on the other foot.

  • Blocking on a number is pretty pointless, unless you actually want to block a specific person. If you're wanting to block a spam SMS message, then you'll be out of luck since they're sent from throw away numbers (well, at least in the UK they are).

    • by mlts (1038732) *

      The block combined with YouMail (you forward your voice mails to their service, and they give specific messages for callers, or just ditch them with "number not in service" messages.) is better than nothing.

      Of course, the ideal is the app Mr. Number in Android, which does a search to see if the number is flagged as a robodialer or spam, then drops the call if that is the case. No having to block tons of numbers.

      Sort of sad that iOS took this long to get this functionality. With robodialers a big money sou

  • Did not see iBeacon noted in the excellent review & the implications for new apps and hardware accessories. I'll ave to read it several times.

  • by mrjatsun (543322) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @11:38AM (#44884331)

    Most of the reviews I've read just parrot what Apple said which is sad.

    Been using it for a couple months. The control panel is great. They killed the calendar, much less usable. I don't use siri so I can't comment there. Being able to have more than 9 icons in a folder is nice.

    The rest is fluff. They exchanged textures for a bunch of superfluous animation and transparency. It looks a lot different obviously. No easier or harder to use though. I'm not a big fan of the new look but was tired of the old look. Other than getting used to a different look, I didn't notice a big improvement or drop off in the other apps.

    In the end, if you already have an iphone, I would recommend it for the control panel.

    • by mrjatsun (543322)

      Oh, not a big fan of the safari changes switching between multiple pages either. gratuitous 3d with less performance for no benefit.

    • by DdJ (10790)

      They killed the calendar, much less usable.

      It's non-intuitive, but try tapping the little magnifying glass, even when you're not interested in doing a search.

      Go ahead, try it! I'll wait.

      • by mrjatsun (543322)

        > It's non-intuitive, but try tapping the little magnifying glass

        Yep, already knew that. :-) Now exit the app and start it up again, not in list
        mode anymore. I want it in list mode by default, occasionally dropping out to
        month or yearly view. The day overview is useless to me on the phone (I'm sure it
        would be fine on a tablet or computer).

        Plus, the done button sitting there waiting for me to hit it makes my eye twitch.

        After two months, I still hate the calendar app... Your mileage may vary.

  • 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 DdJ (10790) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @12:50PM (#44884983) Homepage Journal

      The only reason skeumorphism is maligned is because it's become unfashionable, not because of any inherent flaw in the aesthetic.

      I do not agree with you that it's just a matter of fashion.

      So, anyone who uses enough cross-platform software on an OS that has UI guidelines should be familiar with a basic dichotomy: should various apps on a single system be "like" each other, or should a single app always be the "same" regardless of what system it's on.

      (For example: should Firefox on MacOS look like a MacOS app, or look like Firefox for Windows or Linux?)

      If you're in the "apps should always comply with the 'local' UI guidelines, even if that makes the same app look and behave dramatically different than it does in other environments" camp -- and there are non-fashion reasons to have that point of view -- then that's an argument against skeumorphism with an actual legitimate basis.

      Now, not everyone is in that camp, sure. If that point of view makes no sense to you, then you may not understand this argument against skeumorphism. But that's because you're missing something, not because the argument isn't there (or because you disagree, not because the argument is fundamentally invalid).

      I will observe that this argument is going to be a little alien to folks who normally use Linux, because in general there are no enforced UI guidelines and no consistency of user interface experience. Unless you deliberately engineer your setup otherwise and refuse to install any "outside" software, that is. I mean to the point of a GNOME user refusing to run any browser other than Epiphany, for example.

      But, such UI consistency is somewhat better on Windows (before 8, anyhow), and is something a lot of MacOS users took for granted for years. That's part of where the somewhat widespread visceral negative reaction to Apple's embracing of skeumorphism came from, even if many of the ranting users couldn't articulate that.

      (Myself: I got addicted to UI consistency back when I ran NeXTstep, and it's the primary reason I try not to run Firefox or Chrome on a daily basis. While I won't say I hated skeumorphism, it never sat quite right with me in most cases.)

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by MaWeiTao (908546)

        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 amus

      • But, such UI consistency is somewhat better on Windows (before 8, anyhow), and is something a lot of MacOS users took for granted for years.

        That's a joke. Looking at my current desktop, I have Firefox which throws everything into a single menu, Eclipse which has a purple menu bar (with icons below, in the Word97 style), and Outlook which has a ribbon thing.

        Apple has failed to follow their own UI guidelines for years, with things like iTunes, garage band.......

        UI consistency is overrated. What matters is if you can figure out how to use the application. In cases where consistency helps you do this, then it is good. When it doesn't help you d

      • (Myself: I got addicted to UI consistency back when I ran NeXTstep, and it's the primary reason I try not to run Firefox or Chrome on a daily basis.

        Thank *God* Firefox still allows you to disable Tabs On Top and Horrible Uni-Menu. That's also the prime reason I refuse to regularly use Chrome: They don't let you change their interface, and I hate their interface. Give me the good ol' multi-top-level, expanding menu interface I've used all my life (well, up to 2007, I suppose, but I use Open/LibreOffice to get away from that monstrosity as well).

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      The only reason skeumorphism is maligned is because it's become unfashionable, not because of any inherent flaw in the aesthetic

      It's flawed, and we have known that for a long time. It's what I call "maybe the cheese plant syndrome". Old management games from the 80s/early 90s often had an office as their main screen, where you could click on various objects to access all the different functions. The problem is that you ended up hunting for things to click on, eventually trying the cheese plant in the corner out of frustration. The same thing happens when your calendar apps looks like a book and it isn't immediately obvious how to ge

    • The only reason skeumorphism is maligned is because it's become unfashionable,

      Arguably it's maligned mainly by Android/MS fanboys (and designers). It's definitely a useful way to communicate information in a lot of situations.

    • by Solandri (704621)

      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.

      I was a big critic of the bubbly look that was introduced with Windows XP. The new flat look in Office 2013 has finally made me understand one of the advantages of that bubbly look.

      Office 2013 (on Win 7, dunno about Win 8) has the flat look but only puts

  • The actual usability improvements in iOS 7 are mostly good. The task switcher copied from Palm is nice and the quick settings copied from Android is also a welcome change. But man, I just can't get past the way the whole thing looks. It looks like someone took iOS, Windows Phone 8 and Tandy's Deskmate (an old DOS GUI RadioShack's brand of PCs shipped with) and threw them into a blender.

  • by beefoot (2250164)
    The interface looks more or less the same as I remember on my wife's iphone 3G years ago.
  • 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?

    • To each their own, dude!! I still use the Win95 Classic look on all my Windows PCs (Win7 and Win8). I disable all animations on my Android devices.

      I hate anything that slows me down.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...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 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 SenseiLeNoir (699164) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @12:24PM (#44884757)

      You are not going to get hammered. I agree, the Windows Phone interface is actually very good from what I felt when I played around with a Lumia. Its other things about the OS that makes me stick with Android.

      To be honest, although I myself would NOT be interested in a Windows OS phone, I can see my parents being quite comfortable with one.

      Now coming to windows 8.... thats a different kettle of fish! They should have kept a limited aero for desktop use. I completely hate the lack of contrast on the new desktop (I do not mind the metro interface in "metro" world, I just HATE the desktop interface)

  • The small minority of designers with an axe to grind about skeuomorphic interfaces does not deserve a shout-out. Interface design is just generally bad on consumer products, trading long-term productivity for short-term accessability. These designers who eschew skeuomorphic design rarely are proposing anything of real value aside from asthetic alterations; they don't like putting spiral binder holes on the interface, waah. If they were proposing real long-term productivity improvements and had decent argume

  • That was one hell of an exhaustive review of the new UI. Kudos to Ars Technica. And thanks to the /. article submitter.
  • I find the new interface enough of a change that it will alienate a lot of people used to the "old way". People don't like change and there's enough different in ios 7 that I can see people leaving in droves. It will be interesting to see what happens. Eye candy has always ruled userspace and Apple has effectively killed off most of it's candy in lieu of something resembling a monochromatic cousin of Metro.

  • For those with bad eyes, is the new OS easier to read, harder, or about the same? Several people in my family are now at the "hold phone at arm's length to read it" age, and initial screenshots of thin grey text on white have me worried.

    Bumping up the font size only helps some, and it reduces how much text you can see on a screen at once. Also, it's not a system-wide setting -- you can make notes and texts bigger but not the names of icons on the home screens or the words in alerts.

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