Thursday, June 13, 2013

iPhone5-PF-Pyramid_Features_PRINTIt took a horrible user interface and ripped-off features to draw me back to my technology blog.  Yes, Apple’s update to the iPhone’s operating system is such an irritation that I just couldn’t keep silent.  Unlike a spec of sand inside a clam, this irritation sadly will not produce a pearl.

Bowing to pressure on an old a tired interface, Apple finally previewed its first significant update to the mobile phone that changed the smartphone world at its developer conference WWDC last Monday.  No one was surprised by the announcement but the lack of excitement was obvious when it was unveiled. Aside from the first few rows of Apple employees and friends of the company, such as Board Member Vice President Al Gore, smiles were far and few in between.  Shock was a more common expression.  Ironically enough, the acclaimed designer Sir Johnny Ives seemed to have let some elementary children create the icons for iOS 7 as simplistic was used to the extreme.  Like a sixth-grader confined to his or her world, one finds the need to inquire with the little chap to solicit what the four bubbles icon represent.  Oh, that’s for Game Center?  Yes, bubbles totally convey that message.  The petaled color wheel for Photos is not much better.  This is from a company that prides itself on the principle that anyone can pick up its product and start using it.  I’m not sure how many people are going to tap a compass icon expecting Safari or that other compass icon expecting Safari.  What a mess.

Gone is any depth, though Ives is quoted as saying iOS 7 has more of it.  The shadows and texture are all gone – characteristics of depth – leaving flat bland colors.  There is more blinding white backgrounds than ever and baby blue all over the place.  Tappable items such as “buttons” are simply now just text and one just has to assume tapping the word will execute the command.  Again, not a feature any computer illiterate could figure out on their own.

Speaking of features, where were the new ones?  I mean the real new ones and not the stolen ones!  Every feature Apple mainstreamed on the big screen at the Moscone Center could be found on an Android device, today.  Not this fall.  Today.  SVP Schiller came out introducing the newly radically designed Mac Pro shooting off a comment about not innovating any more, “My ass!”  Granted, the new cylinder super Mac is pretty amazing, but were was that same type of attitude with iOS 7?  It’s lacking was because of the clear absence of Apple innovation.

Control Center, the ability to do things like disable Bluetooth, adjust brightness, and select Wi-Fi, is nothing new but something iPhone users have begged for ever since seeing it in Android’s Notification Center.  In fact, when Apple announced its Notification feature last year, many thought this ability would be found in it.  Nope, users will end up waiting another 18 months from that release for it.  Almost two years!  That’s crazy.

True multitasking comes to iOS 7 and the ability to see running applications looks just like it does on an HTC device.  An Android.  If you’d like, you can go back even further to 2009 when Palm first introduced the “card” concept with webOS.  It’s nice to have real multitasking on iOS – in the Fall – but again, this is far from a new feature.

I found the new simple lock screen somewhat comical since Apple has made such a big deal of “Swipe to Unlock” in the Samsung lawsuit.  Now iOS 7 will have a very simple lock screen with a large display of the time…just like Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich.

The update to the music player with iTunes Radio looked so much like Google Music it was comical.  The concept of streaming music isn’t new and in fact the market is crowded with choices.  After Steve Jobs bemoaned the idea of steaming music because, “people want to own their music”, Apple finally enters the game (with four bubbles?) after the dirt finally hardened on Jobs’ grave.

Not even that tricky looking 3-D background is new.  Nope, the feature known as Parallax has been available for Android for sometime in the form of a third-party application called 3D Image Live Wallpaper.  Heck, take a look at it in action from SlashGear’s videon on YouTube.  Yes, fully disappointing that something so cool STILL isn’t an Apple innovation.

I’m sure like the makers of 3D Image Live Wallpaper, other vendors were not happy seeing their hard work and ideas up on the Keynote presentation branded Apple, either. Mailbox campaigned brilliantly for its simple and powerful application with its easy to use swipes that – gasp! – are coming to iOS 7 Mail as well.  Go figure!  Oh, there’s more swipes – pun intended – buried in iOS 7 including one that draws from one the companies Apple has nearly put out of business, BlackBerry.  Like BB10, if you swipe to the left, you’ll be taken back to the previous page.  Amazing.

Now all these features taken from others that are available today on a competing hardware won’t even grace an iPhone until this “Fall”, whenever that is!  That’s three months at best, SIX at worse!  By that time, I guess  there will be a slew of new features for Apple to pick off the tree from Android for iOS 8.


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