Posted by David Price 07 October 2013
6 reasons to stick with 'ugly' iOS 7
Not everyone likes iOS 7 and its radically redesigned interface. Indeed, some iOS 7 users are getting so desperate that they're trying to find ways to go back to iOS 6. But here's why you should stick with it.
Praise be to iOS 7, one of the great gambles of the smartphone era, and the first 'bet the company' moment of Apple under Tim Cook.
Apple didn't need to reimagine its immensely popular operating system for iPhone and iPad; switchover stats show that Android users are far more likely to move to iOS than vice versa, thanks to the Cupertino offering's user-friendliness and tight integration with the hardware. But even though it wasn't broken, Apple nonetheless decided to fix it.
Leaving aside the substantive changes in iOS 7 - the handy (and let's be honest, no-brainer) inclusion of Control Centre, the NFC-only-not-horribly-insecure niche convenience of AirDrop, (optional) background app updates and a plethora of security enhancements, iOS 7 looks different to iOS 6. Like, completely, utterly different. And not everyone likes change.
Disgruntled iOS 7 users have besieged search engines trying to work out how to go back to iOS 6, and reviews going back to the first beta of the operating system (which, in fairness, was wholly true to the visual styling of the finished product) complained about its vibrant, acid colour palette. But we thought pretty much the same thing at first, and our advice is to stick with it, because it quickly becomes normal, and then you look back on pictures of iOS 6 and wonder how you ever thought it looked good.
I've updated my iPad 3 to iOS 7, while my iPad 4 still runs iOS 6. And the iPad 4 already looks weirdly dated. And it's not even been three weeks.
Don't give up on iOS 7, baby: 5 reasons to have faith in iOS 7
1. iOS 7 will become familiar
The thing with interfaces - and this is why I was so surprised that Apple took the plunge with iOS 7 - is that they depend on familiarity. Inefficient interfaces acquire inertia, because it's too much effort to switch to something else: hence the (possibly apocryphal) tale of the qwerty keyboard layout, designed to slow down the clashing metal arms of typewriters but then surviving illogically, unsuitably into the digital age.
So to get the most out of iOS 7 you need to get used to it. Play with it. Work out its foibles, the little elements of its menus that have moved since iOS 6. And that applies too, albeit less obviously, to its visual style.
2. iOS 6 will get more and more dated
You need time to get used to modern looks - I remember being repulsed by the London 2012 logo when it was unveiled, but it had grown on me by the time the games rolled around. The team behind that logo did a great job of anticipating the way visual fashion would move, just as Jony Ive's team have made iOS 7 very 'now'.
Whatever else you think of iOS 7's looks, it's a lot more contemporary than iOS 6 and its reality-imitating skeuomorphism. Talk to people who've updated to iOS 7, and most will mention that looking back on iOS 6 is like digging out family photos from the 1980s: happy memories, but the hairstyles!
3. iOS 7's looks serve a practical purpose: usability
Jony Ive's team didn't just trim down the screen furniture out of a sense of minimalistic puritanism. They felt that these elements were no longer needed, and were obscuring rather than aiding clarity. (There was a time, perhaps, when making an onscreen calendar look like a real-world calendar was necessary in order to make the connection in a user's brain. But smartphones, apps and digital organisers are integrated into our lives now.)
Instead, Apple decided to clear unnecessary distractions from the screen and focus on clear typography and white space. Ultimately that should make it easier to use your iPhone or iPad, although it may take time to get the hang of the new interface.
4. …and Apple has shown it's prepared to tweak the software in order to enhance usability
As we said earlier, the first beta version of iOS 7 was pretty close to the final edition that eventually launched. But Apple did respond to some criticisms, tweaking visual elements to make it as user-friendly as possible. Beta 4, to take an example, featured slightly thicker fonts, after testers reported that they couldn't read text easily.
Apple releases regular updates to iOS, mostly for bug patches, but it's not out of the question that it could choose to tweak the layout of a menu in an update before iOS 8.
5. Apps will adapt to match the way iOS 7 looks
Part of the reason iOS 6 is going to disappear further and further into the archive of tech nostalgia is because the rest of the iOS ecosystem is going to evolve around it. Many devs have already updated their apps to match the clean lines and light typography of iOS 7, and the rest will follow at their own pace. In six months using updated apps on an iOS 6 iPad is going to be like visiting current websites on Netscape Navigator.
6. We hate to break this to you, but iOS 8 will look more like iOS 7 than iOS 6
What's the long-term plan here? If you're thinking of slumming it on iOS 6 for a year and then updating to iOS 8, you must realise that Apple isn't going to give up and bring back the green felt and fake wood. iOS 8 is very unlikely to see any major visual changes at all, in fact - most likely it will offer a range of tweaks to iOS 7 and a small number of new features.