I upgraded my iPhone to iOS7, as have millions of others. And I’ve learned that in this decision, I’m far from being alone in now regretting what I’ve done. The install was pretty quick & easy, even by Apple standards, but after the phone restarted, I was confronted with a feathery UI that looked like it was still waiting to download the rest of itself. It was devoid of color, definition, or even fills for the icons. Everything was traced in with such subtlety, it was like looking at something barely there at all.
I realized with an empty feeling that this was all there was ever going to be to iOS7. I found it overly simple, devoid of any interesting details. What had once been rich and beautiful was now visually flat, featureless and effectively monochromatic.
It was puzzling. The design looked unfinished, as though I’d downloaded a mockup, or a set of wireframes, rather than a finished product. Until then, Apple UIs had always been simple & elegant, visually very rich and beautiful to look at. There was a great joy to using them. But this iOS 7 stuff was completely the opposite – once sophisticated, it was now childishly simplistic, as though designed on an “Etch a Sketch” and left that way.
Disappointment fades, and we all learn to deal with what is. Same here. Now, the real issue in daily usage centers on screen sleep and battery management. This is truly unpredictable. After a 45 minute call earlier today, I was down 50%, from full. I thought that I had accidentally left on my WiFi hotspot and somebody had been leeching my bandwidth, but no such luck. Even the BT was off. The phone simply gobbles down the power unless you put it to sleep relentlessly.
Under iOS6, this was a multi-day device. Now it’s a long-afternoon proposition. There have been mornings since the upgrade when I’ve awoken to a dead phone – battery completely drained, not even a red icon left. I really don’t think it sleeps anymore: it seems to be up to various antics all night when it’s supposed to be asleep, like an excited second grader staying over at a friend’s house. Except that the kid at least has the sense to actually go to sleep before completely running out of juice. Not so the phone.
Now I double and triple check it every evening after it’s supposedly gone to sleep, or I just hook it up to my laptop, anticipating the inevitable when it decides to start doing its own thing at 2:45 in the morning.
I am told that there are upsides to this upgrade, but I’ve yet to see them in actual use. Given the nearly invisible UI, I know now that the phone is effectively unusable when wearing sunglasses. This is a big deal in Phoenix, because if the sun is above the horizon, you’re wearing sunglasses. 365 days a year. I had the thought that since it’s now illegal to text while driving here on the Anvil of the Sun, maybe that’s where the benefit of this invisible UI comes into play: you’re forced to give up and go hands-free.
But my biggest beef is that there’s no going back. iOS7 is like Hotel California – I checked in, but now I can never leave. Apparently there was some grace period for folks who tried iOS7 before Apple forced the rest of us to adopt it. Back then, they allowed customers to downgrade to iOS6, if they acted quickly enough after making the mistake of checking it out.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of those lucky early adopters, and since then, the great iron gates of Apple’s wisdom have clanged shut on any chance of a “downgrade” back to usability in the mobile lives the rest of us lead.
So, I’m stuck with it, and you are too, at least until the next “upgrade” is jammed down our collective throats. Here’s hoping that the title of the article about that experience will be “iOSgr8”.