Thursday, September 19, 2013

iOS 7: One day in

Like millions of others worldwide, I upgraded the OS to iOS7 yesterday on my iPhone 4 and iPad Mini. With less than 24 hours experience of the new OS, here are my initial, and very subjective impressions.

Lets get this one out of the way first. On my iPhone 4 which is almost three and a half years old, there are occasions when this shiny new OS is decidely laggy. That may be down to un-optimised apps (although the new iOS7 ready version of Facebook takes about 17 seconds to launch). It's more likely down to the ageing hardware. On the iPad Mini is zips along.

Ok, so here's the lowdown

The Good

  • It's a shiny new interface bring a much needed refresh to a perfectly capable but tired looking OS
  • The notification centre is FAR better and brings the iOS devices closer to what Android and other mobile users have had for a while
  • Ditto the ability to quickly and easily change key settings like wifi, BT etc.
  • Cool (but frankly nonfunctional animations as windows/apps open and close
  • The swipe to close apps in multi-tasking - hey where have I seen that before? Oh yes, Palm's WebOS about 6 years ago.....
  • A neat touch - on the iPad Mini at least - Messages where you don't have a photo for the contact show a grey circle with their initials
  • Apple's weather app - looks much better, though I still use the BBC weather app as my preferred choice

The Bad
  • Siri - never the greatest voice, but now sounds like he's talking through the back of a pillow after having downed eleven pints of lager (yes I know I can change it to that dreadful American woman's voice - or even a foreign language, as demonstrated by both my kids on their iPhones during a Siri-fest a few minutes ago)
  • The keyboard. 
    • The new keyboard is inconsistently applied throughout apps - most use the new one, some (including some of Apple's own - Pages for one) use the old version. Poor.
    • Because the new keyboard is less shaded and the fonts are much thinner, it feels smaller to me. I know it's an optical illusion and I'll get used to it. But that's how it feels at the moment
  • That shiny new interface? It looks like cartoons. Not yet convinced it's better than the old interface.
  • Suddenly after three years of swiping emails left to right to call up the delete button I have to swipe right to left. Why?
  • Reminders. Never the greatest app in the box, but it was vaguely functional (though I still can't get proper sync between my iPhone & my iPad Mini in this one app. Now it's far less intuitive (at least to me), and intuitiveness is something Apple prides itself on.
  • Moving app icons around the screens. This might just be down to my ageing hardware and iOS7's performance on it, but I've found it MUCH harder to accurately drag and drop app icons without putting them somewhere I didn't mean to.
On balance it looks as though there are more cons than pros - that's not necessarily the whole picture though. I'll get used to the OS and some of those concerns will go. There may be some early bugs that a future dot release will improve on.

On the whole, I think it's better.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Choices, choices

So the time has come. My iPhone 4 has served me admirably for almost 40 months, but it's time to change.

It still works. It still does the things I want it to do. But it is slowing down. Things that used to happen quickly seem to take longer - apps opening, screens refreshing etc. I did a restore a while back and it improved things a bit, but not much. It's starting to look a bit tired too. A couple of scratches here and there and some damage to the casing in a couple of places and a tiny crack on the topmost left of the screen. Hardly noticeable, but there nonetheless.

Apple have just announced two new phones. The "budget" 5C at a whopping £479 sim free. Essentially it's an iPhone 5 in a coloured case. And the 5S, same form factor as the current 5, with a choice of 3 case colours, but faster, better camera and a fingerprint scanner. If the 5C is budget, the 5S isn't. The cheapest variant weighs in at £549, £80 dearer than the 5C and £20 dearer than the current 5.

I've toyed with the idea of getting an Android device. The Galaxy S4 and HTC One look nice. They rock bigger screens than the iPhone, and Android has certainly come a long way, but.....

Despite those who say the iPhone is lagging behind, it isn't. I played with some Android phones in a shop today. They're good. Very good. But pick up an iPhone and it just oozes something the Android devices just don't have. It's not the OS. It's certainly not the hardware although Apples kit is still lovely stuff. It's something in the ether. It's smoother, silkier in use. It's comfortable to hold.

And the killer for me, is the seamless integration across my phone, my tablet (an iPad Mini) and my MacBook Pro itself now 4 years old but still a honey...

No, I'm afraid it's going to have to be Apple and the iPhone again. The only question is which variant. £549 is eye wateringly steep for a skinflint like me, but then it's "only" £80 more than the 5C which is effectively last years model in a new skin. As I change phones so rarely, the sensible choice would be to get the best I could afford.then again I could get the 5C with a view to upgrading when the iPhone 6 arrives next autumn.

Choices, choices.......

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad Mini