I got my iPhone 5 (no bloody C or S) for Virgin Mobile about a month ago, and it’s been a marvelous device. The iPhone seems to much better access the Sprint/Virgin network in Albuquerque much better than the old HTC or the dumbphone I had before that. Here’s the original review when it was still on iOS6, so we’ll concentrate on the move to iOS7 here. I turned to the iPhone because the user experience of the iPad 2 has been so good, that I figured it would be recreated on the small phone. I was not wrong. So how did the new iOS7 change the user experience?

For me, it was an excellent switch. There’s a ton of articles online about the technical aspects, the bugs and glitches, the various interface aspects of the software. You can Google them if that’s what you are looking for, but here’s my experience with iOS7: The new interface is cleaner and the “flat” design and new typeface makes it easier to see and use for my LASIK modified eyes. (I’m now mildly farsighted.) The new notification center can be accessed by swiping down from the top of the screen and works from the lock screen, so you can check the weather or any message notes — this makes it very easy to do quick checks of your calendar, etc. without having to punch in your password. (No fingerprint crap here.) The command center, or whatever they call it, swipes up from the bottom. You can set airplane mode or do not disturb from here, use the camera, or the camera flash as a flashlight (a feature I’ve used more than I expected), or adjust the sound or screen brightness without going through your passcode screen.

Once you’ve passcoded into the phone, it operates no differently from iOS6; easy, intuitive, and I saw no slow down in performance, nor issues with phone or wifi reception. Battery life did drop about 10-15% percent. I can get through two days of use with a bit of internet access, messaging, and the occasional phone call. I was able to cut about half of the new battery drain by killing the background app updates, the fancy parallax effects, and limiting the location services to the essential apps. (By the way, if the parallax stuff is giving you some kind of motion sickness, you’re way too damned sensitive; I couldn’t even notice it unless i really concentrated — hence why I turned it off.)

The integration of email/Twitter/Facebook/other app sharing across the platform makes it easy to do most things you might need. Siri works better than I thought it would when accessing functionality on the phone, but still isn’t much use as a search engine. The voice recognition for speech-to-text is quite good and can handle my strange Amero-Scottish accent without too much trouble.

Otherwise, there’s it’s much the same user experience — just cleaner and a bit better integrated than the last iteration of the OS.

Now, on the iPad 2, the experience is much improved. I know others might be having issues with the upgrade; I’m not. As with the iPhone, the new notifications and command centers are handy; and the interface is cleaner, easier to read, but here the functionality is much improved by the ability to still get out of an app to the “switcher” with a quick four-finger flick up. (I wish the iPhone incorporated this, as it would save the double tapping on the Home button and increase the life of the device.) Once in the switcher, you simply flick with a finger the app closed. It cuts down on the use of the home button on the iPad — you almost don’t need it. I’ve also seen not dramatic drop in performance of the device — none of the reported keyboard lag, no hanging apps or sudden app closures (although I do occasionally get one on the phone.) Even Real Racing 3, which is a resource hog of Texas boar proportions (and kinda sucks now that they’re trying to squeeze every last dime out of the player with their new freemium paradigm) runs well, with just a few jitters in the initial menu screens.

So, was the update worth it? Yes, even for an older iPad 2. (My wife also reports no issues on her iPad 3.)

Style: 5 out of 5 — the new look is modern, simple, and easier to use than iOS6. Substance: 4.5 out of 5 — the OS works as advertised and integrates a lot of the functions in ways that make it easy for the user to access. Siri still isn’t too impressive, and Maps is still slower than the DMV if you use a sat or hybrid view; stick to the straight map function and this isn’t an issue.

Advertisements