Brian Sewell

Everything I hate (and don't hate) about iOS 7

June 11, 2013

I know I’m not alone in this. I absolutely hate the new look of iOS 7. I don’t think there has been such a drastic and unnecessary reinventing of a product since New Coke.

Granted, New Coke eventually led to us getting Coca-Cola Classic, so maybe there’s hope for iOS 8.

Jony Ive’s vision for a flatter, simpler user interface for iOS has come to life in a fairly awful, non-intuitive, and downright ugly way.

Overall UI Impressions
The text is too thin. Not everyone who owns an iPhone has spectacular vision. There is an accessibility setting for “enhance text legibility”. I haven’t noticed a difference between having it on and off.

The lack of borders around navbar buttons is a mistake. Now there is no distinguishable difference between labels and buttons. Making something simple doesn’t mean making it confusing at the same time.

The new host of icons used in iOS 7 have strayed from the familiar ones that iOS built its identity on over the years.

Textures and gradients were once a part of what made iOS beautiful. They may not be aesthetically necessary, but they did help provide context. They provided direction, separation, and aided the user’s intuition. This flat and simple UI fad is starting to be overdone and misused.

I would hate to see what Jony Ive would want to do with a nuclear power plant control room.

Why change the cellular signal strength indicator from the bars to circles? Circles take up even more space and the bars are a standard that was set since the first cellular telecommunication device was conceived. Why the hell did you feel the need to change this? There is no good reason.

Jony Ive has done a terrific job over the years with hardware design. He’s responsible for some great improvements on a lot of Apple products, but this has to be his worst effort yet.

Answering a Phone Call
The new “Slide to Answer” button is nothing more than a green block.

Lock Screen
It starts with something as central as the lock screen. Sure, users will learn that nothing has really changed, but please give me a good reason the button and slider needed to go. This may be an easy thing to overlook for iOS users who are used to this process, but people coming to iOS from other platforms are going to be wondering how to unlock their phone for at least a few seconds. Don’t make the user think.

I handed my phone to a friend, because he wanted to see iOS 7, and he swiped up and down before attempting the traditional swipe right. I am guilty of the same idiocy. But am I really the idiot?

Spotlight
Spotlight was cleverly hidden. Instead of being the farthest left home screen, you now just have to pull down on the home screen (not at the very top, that’s notification center) to reveal the spotlight search. My question is “why”? Did so many people complain about how they had to tap the home button and swipe right to access the spotlight? Probably not. Changing things for the sake of changing them is a terrible approach. It seems like Ive and his team set out to create problems to solve rather than improving on what was already there.

Control Center
What the hell is wrong with text labels? Not everyone is going to know what these icons mean, no matter how simple you make them. The only way the user can find out is by tapping on them and opening the clock app, calculator app, or camera.

The bottom swipe gesture to display the control center interferes with a few apps functionality… namely the Google app where the “now” cards are shown by swiping up from the bottom.

Notification center
This is the one feature I probably use the least, but there still isn’t a “clear all notifications” button. Really? How do you put a shortcut to the calculator in the new control center, but can’t seem to get this in there?

Camera
The camera app is the only built in app that features the all caps typography.

Icons
As if all the UI changes weren’t enough to anger users and developers alike, they’ve managed to resize the icons on the home screen and increase their border radius. On a retina display, the icons are 114 pixels with about a 14 pixel radius. The new icons are 120 pixels with a 24 pixel radius. More work for designers.

Multitasking
The new card view of your apps is nice. It’s almost exactly the same as Palm’s WebOS implementation back in the day, but an improvement nonetheless.

Photos
I do like the new photos app. It still tries a bit to hard to force you into a method of organization they think you need, but it has helped quickly find photos during certain periods of time. I can overlook this change right now.

In Closing
When Tim Cook was interviewed back in December about the letting go of Scott Forstall and John Browett, he said:

We admit when we’re wrong and have the courage to change.

I hope you have the courage to admit it this time.

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