DeviceCritique: Apples mobile operating system iOS 7

Apple iPhone

Even before Apples mobile operating system iOS 7 was released on September 18, 2013, people had questions on how the market perceives the new iOS. Now that it has been a month since Apple released iOS 7, you might be wondering how does the new iOS perform. To the vectorizing the iOS icons, and the restructuring of the user interface, the questions were, were changes to Apples mobile operating system to improve on visual consistency? What new features did iOS 7 offer? And finally, how does iOS 7 compare to its rival — Google Android?

Apples mobile operating system iOS 7 — back to the flat world

Apples mobile operating system iOS 7

Note App in iOS 7 — Can you tell the Done text is a button?

iOS has gone through many iterations over the years, but the visuals never changed this drastically. If you compare iOS 7 to its earlier versions, you will find that it is missing the bevels and shadows — the details that give the device a more premium touchable interface. In return, we are left with a bunch of addictive Colourful, LSD tripping, flat, mildly confusing home screen icons. As these icons changed, the user interfaces follows. Buttons no longer seem like buttons. Instead, they are replaced with coloured text with nothing to define it as an actual button besides the colour. Since there were no more button graphics, we needed to work a little more harder to recognize and distinguish between what is actual text and what is an actual touchable button. So why did Apple have to change the user interface? Apple is just adhering to the fashion industry where retro fashion is back. With this in mind, Jony Ive wanted to bring us all back to the time we thought the world was flat. The new compass app of iOS 7 adds to this impression. Apple sacrifice the well refined retro-looking compass app on iOS 6 for an even more retro style compass that seem like it was built for Microsoft DOS. To make iOS more confusing, the dialer app and the keypad unlock used circle buttons in contrast to the calculator app, which has been transformed into a calculator app with square buttons. Although these square buttons are inconsistent with the Apple interface, Apple decided to stroke Googles design ego and give props to their Nexus calculator.

The status bar of iOS has been changed. There are no strokes or, shadows on the little status icons to set your icons apart from the background you have chosen. This means you will have to choose a background that is dark or completely white, and nothing in-between white and black, so that the status bar is visible. There is no option to force the status icons to be a certain colour or at least give it some contrast. In iOS 6 and below, we never ran into any trouble with backgrounds blending in with the status icons. Since there was always a bar behind the status icons to provide a contrast between the icons and the background, it seemed like they put more thought into the original iOS. So you might ask, with all these visual blemishes…

Why upgrade to iOS 7? — New features

Apples mobile operating system iOS 7

Can you see the status icons on the top?

Regardless of the inconsistent visuals and the dated 70’s look, iOS 7 offers some very useful features that should have been included from the beginning of iOS.   The first feature is the ability to swipe up from the screen to get access to a quick settings list. Here you can access airplane mode, wifi, bluetooth, do not disturb mode, lock screen orientation, a flashlight, quick access to the calculator, camera, and timer. Second feature is activated by swiping down on the screen. A widget center will drop down and your calendar, messages, and any alerts will be shown to give you easy access to your phones notifications. These two defining features are what makes iOS complete. In the past, these features were long sought after as a popular jailbroken third-party app called SBsettings, and now its native on iOS 7. Users receive a new Siri voice, and a bunch of new commands.  Another useful feature is the native text to speech function. This simple function allows Siri to read text out loud, and is great for reading out favorite material while on the go. We were able to put together a bunch of offline content, and made Siri read out the content while we were out of the office. This provided us the convenience to enjoy our surroundings and not stare at the small 4 inch screen all the time. Initially we thought the voice would sound as robotic as Tim Cook. Thankfully, the voice of Siri has become more natural; however, is nowhere compared to a real human’s voice. Some minor tweaks were also included in the Compass app. Although the Compass app no longer looks as appealing as the previous generation, you can swipe to the left to activate a level. This level is useful for making sure your table is perfectly horizontal so that apples will not roll off them and into the ground — perfect tool for engineers.

iOS7 – 2 step for new features, and 1 steps back for visuals

Apples mobile operating system iOS 7 definitely adds a lot of apples to the table. While the graphical interface certainly needs to be refined, the new features that ship with iOS 7 make it difficult for users to resist. The swipe up/down gesture, new Siri functions, level feature, and text to speech addition certainly gives iOS more functionality; however, in comparison with Android, iOS 7 seems quite dated. Text to speech functionality, quick access and notifications drop down windows, have already been implemented on Android 4.1 and above. On the other hand, iOS 7 still holds an extremely low latency interface that stick to your finger, and arguably a larger diversified app ecosystem. On the flip side, in the ever-changing world of technology, Google might have a surprise waiting right around the corner with Android 4.4 Kitkat. With the two mobile operating systems — iOS and Android rivaling each other in every way, Apple fans are faced with a paradigm shift where iOS is no longer visually appealing. On top of that, Apple was catching up in terms of features and functionality in iOS 6 and below, and is still consider behind with iOS 7. With the new backward thinking iOS visuals, and Apple forums filled with people begging Apple to return the old iOS 6 design, leads us to wonder, will your next purchase be an android device, an iOS device, or even a Windows device?

Steve is a co-founder of DeviceCritique. He is a technology expert who takes a unique perspective by blending humanity, technology, and business. He visions that there are many untapped technology products that have yet to emerge, and plans to explore those ideas with you in his articles.


  1. I agree with this article. For me the technological improvements are outweighed by the visual failure of 7 to be a natural intuitive use of the software for the user. This is purely my personal opinion, I’m sure many will love it but for me it’s an epic fail.

  2. This article is well thought out, but I would also like to add that they could not possibly think that they could make a brand new user interface in a year. These changes should have been developed and polished over a few years. For this revision, they could have kept the new features as the main scope, and gradually add the visuals in the next iOS.

  3. They pretty much got rid of the visuals that made iOS so popular. The departure of Richard Williamson, the product manager of Apple maps and user interface designer must have wounded them deeply.


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