So, have you had a look at the new iOS? It’s visually different to the iOS we have become used to and quite frankly, miles ahead in terms of how it looks. We have no doubt that Apple finally has a modern OS that not only has a great selection of apps and games, not only works smoothly on your iDevices, but one which can now take on the Android and Windows Phone with renewed confidence. And in many ways, the iOS 7 experience will soon be on par with Android, where Google has strived to make UI design consistent.
Naturally, with a revamp as big as this, we were expecting Apple to take some inspiration from other OSes. Now, there’s not an OS in the world that has not been inspired by the competition in some way or the other, so this is not a slight on iOS 7. If anything, this just goes to show how close the competition is in the smartphone and tablet arena. iOS 7, like its rivals, has things from here and there, but it looks like a truly unique experience. Let’s take a look at some of the inspirations.
The new UI for iPhones
The iOS 7 lock screen has undergone a revamp, so old-timers to the platform will see a new stand-by screen on their iPhones. Firstly, the Notification Center has been updated and is now available right from the lock screen. This was something that Android has implemented since Ice Cream Sandwich. There's a today view of notifications, with calendar, stocks and other current updates, which can not only be viewed (like in iOS 6), but can also be managed. And the old steel grey textured background gives way to a translucent background, which shows the wallpaper behind.
With iOS 7, Apple has introduced a new Control Center for your smartphone and tablet, which lets you access the most-commonly used settings – Bluetooth, Airplane Mode, Do Not Disturb and screen rotation – as well as toggle Wi-Fi on and off. Needless to say, this is a version of the quick toggles present in Android since Jelly Bean was announced last year. But even before that, OEM-customised versions of Android such as TouchWiz, Sense and Optimus UI have had this option since their early days. The Control Center also allows users to adjust brightness and control the music player, and get to the torchlight, clock, calculator and the camera. Users can access the Control Center from anywhere on their phone with a swipe up from the bottom of the display.
Notifications on the lockscreen
Multi-tasking has always been a pain-point for iOS users in comparison to what was on offer for Android, Windows Phone and, previously, WebOS. The latter seems to be the big inspiration for iOS 7, which now features a card-style UI for the multi-tasking screen. The cards show a full preview of the state of the apps. Ever since Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Google has used a similar style for multi-tasking or the Recent Apps screen, which was also inspired by WebOS to a certain extent. Windows Phone also has a very similar implementation after the long-press on the back button. So Apple has taken pieces from all the major OSes for this aspect. Multi-tasking has now been enabled for all apps, which has been ever-present in Android, and Apple will be handling background updates for apps cleverly by delivering them first to the apps you use the most. One great aspect of iOS 7 multi-tasking that we have not seen before is data management for low connectivity situations. Updates will be stifled or will flow full-throttle depending on the network strength. In iOS7, the apps are centred on the screen with the relevant icon at the bottom. Users will be able to kill apps by swiping their card upwards.
Multi-tasking is very WebOS like
Senator and former Presidency candidate John McCain should be happy now that Apple has brought out automatic updates for apps and games. McCain had jokingly complained about having to manually update apps all the time. The change means users don’t have to make frequent forays into the App Store app, which wasn’t the sharpest app in the drawer in the first place. “Thanks to Tim Cook for the automatic iphone app updates! #apple #wwdc,” tweeted the veteran senator. We wonder if McCain has ever heard about the auto-update feature on the Google Play Store, which recently underwent yet another change and now enables automatic updates by default.
Photos and filters
Apple, much like Android and BlackBerry, has turned to Instagram for inspiration for the Photos app. When clicking photographs, you can pick a square aspect ratio from the options and choose from a variety of filters after the shot is taken. The Photos app also has a Moments feature, which automatically arranges your snaps according to time and location and allows you to zoom out to a larger chunk of time to see a mosaic of all the pictures you shot in that period. If it sounds familiar to iOS users, don’t be surprised. This is exactly the functionality of Photowerks, a 99-cent app on the App Store that also arranges your pictures chronologically and based on the geo-tags. The Photos app also gets AirDrop functionality for easier sharing of pictures between two iDevices. This eliminates the need for NFC or anything of that sort to share photographs with those nearby. But we have also seen this before in Samsung’s Group Play feature, which lets you connect via Wi-Fi direct to share pictures and play music through multiple Samsung smartphones.
The Moments feature in the Photos app