This is why I think iOS7 is a step sideways.
After using iOS7 for over a month now, I noticed that the new operating system is not all unicorns and rainbows. I know its still in beta, but iOS7 lacks in many design principles. I think that many mistakes where made at many levels, things that won't be fixed in the upcoming releases.
1. User Experience (UX):
iOS7 UX is a mess. All the clarity that characterized iOS is now gone. In the process of simplifying the experience, many necessary elements where stripped. The result of this is a confusing OS where you must learn how to use it. Is not trivial anymore.
Take a look at the lockscreen:
Pretty gorgeous right? Yes. Much better that the iOS6 one. But its confusing. "Slide to Unlock". Should I slide from left to right? Right to left? Bottom to top? The camera icon.. should I press it? Drag it? Slide it? iOS is not trivial anymore. You have to think to use it, you have to memorize things to be able to deal with it. It's no longer intuitive.
Baby and iOS 6 vs iOS 7 (via Karel Javůrek)
This is what happens when you receive a phone call (left locked, right unlocked):
Pay attention to the screenshots where the phone is locked. Better looking, right? Probably. But even more confusing than the lockscreen. In addition to the problem of where I should "slide to answer" from, we face the issue that you can't slide from anywhere now. Slides are restricted to that green bar that looks like a button. If you see the bigger picture there is absolutely no difference between a button (answer) and a swypeable area (slide to answer). Its just confusing. In contrast with older iOS releases, iOS7 lost its simplicity for nothing.
Apple touts its new calendar app as a "representation of simplicity". But using it proves otherwise. The new calendar app is one of the worst designed apps I've ever used. You need to tap several times to accomplish simple things like browsing your events or switching between a day view and a month view.
Useful and productive views such as the month+day view that where available in older iOS are now gone. Want to see the events of each day and quickly switch? You should go forward in the navigation stack, and then go back... for each single day. The cherry of the cake is the location of the list view. Took me a while to find it. If you want to view your appointments as a list.. you should press the magnifying glass. Yes, no joke. Instead of a simple "List" view you should now remember that magnifying glass = list view.
Want to create a new reminder.. iOS7 got you covered.. sort of.
The logic step would be to press the "+" sign located at the top right of the screen. In an intuitive OS such as iOS6, the answer is right. In a confusing one, like iOS7, pressing that plussing will create a new list. So, how do you create a new reminder? You should tap on the list. Didn't you see that coming, don't you? Me neither. And again, this is something you need to discover. Is not trivial anymore. It isn't easy. You must take your time and try to accomplish basic actions such as adding a reminder.
I could talk about UX inconsistencies all night long. But I think this few examples illustrate my point. iOS is no longer trivial. You have to think to use it, you have to remember stuff. You may think that thats no big deal, that I am overreacting. Yes, for you. For me. But you are reading a tech forum and I am taking my time to write this post. We are not the base iOS users. iOS was designed for everyone to be able to use it. In the video above, the baby was unable to unlock the iPhone, many iOS users will go down this path.
2. User interface (UI):
As the UI design is something more personal, I won't take much time on this. You may like it or dislike it. Its up to you. In my opinion I think that iOS7 has a fresh new look. I pointed out before that for me the lockscreen looks much better. The icons are ugly, but I can live with them. There is one thing that bothers me A LOT. Take a look at these screenshots of Apple's website:
There is one thing that caught my eye. No black iPhones. Not few, NONE. Why? This is why.
iOS7 just look better in white devices. As the owner of a black iPhone 5, a black iPad with Retina Display and a black iPad Mini I'm not happy with it. And you obviously encounter this problem:
Your eyes hurt at night when you use your device. You can lower the brightness as much as you want, but it still bothers you. So my solution? A dark theme.
A quick mockup of how iOS7 would look in a black iPhone with a dark theme.
With this theme iOS7 not only looks more elegant in black devices, but also solves the retina-burning-at-night-issue. (BTW: you can sort of try it out by using the accessibility option "Invert Colors" [Settings>General>Accessibility>Invert Colors]).
There are over 900,000 apps in the App Store. Third party apps are the key to iOS success. As Apple once said "There's an app for almost everything". But now, they should change that to "There's an outdated app for almost everything". Why is this? Because old apps just don't feel right. The controls that these apps use on iOS7 are old. So tableviews, switches, segmented controls, steppers, sliders, every single control in these apps is outdated. Even the old keyboard pops out when you use a non iOS7 optimized app. So unless every app is updated, there will be a huge fragmentation in the App Store.
Apps must be redesigned to support the new look of the operating system, and what will developers get? Nothing. So, how many will really redo the entire UI to support a new OS without getting paid? Is this fair for developers? No it isn't. Updating your apps to support iOS7 is no easy task. You must redesign the UI, images, controls, etc. And that takes time. So users should pay for an update? Not fair too. When you buy an app from the AppStore, you are confident that you are going to be able to download that app from every device you have, the amount of times you want. And also you know that you are going to receive free updates. That's what a developer normally charges the user for. Gedeon Maheux, Iconfactory founder gives his view on this subject in a blog post Watershed moment.
There have been many API changes apart from design ones. So apps which need to support older iOS versions (most of them) will have to face this new design challenge without breaking compatibility. This will probably result in more limited apps which don't exploit the full potential of the OS. Something similar to the Android mess (not as bad because at least screen sizes and type of devices won't vary).
I've used iOS since its inception. Its stability and simplicity made me never want to look anywhere else. I was able to do everything I ever wanted. There's an app for almost everything you need. Some tasks are simpler in an iPhone, than on a Mac. Who would have thought this 6 years ago? That a phone could sometimes be more productive than a computer. But I must admit that after using this OS for that long time, it was a bit boring. iOS7 was a chance for Apple to show that they still know what they were doing, and I think that they deviated.
I'm not saying that iOS7 is a huge step backwards. I'm saying that iOS7 is a step sideways. Apple showed us that they are now doing things different. Better? Worst? DIFFERENT. As a long time Apple user, I think that this new iteration of iOS is a mistake. This kind of mistake makes me loose the fear of trying other platforms.