So I installed iOS 7 on my iPhone overnight, and I have to say the absence of Steve Jobs is showing. The new OS is pretty good, and there are some really useful new features, but Jobs would not have approved this release. Despite, or rather because of the new flat, simplified interface, the phone is harder to navigate, and controls are harder to access. The app icons in particular have thrown out a lot of information (where you want to see identifying details), yet there’s the additional complexity of the parallax multilayered surface. Why not use that graphics horsepower and make the app icons live images that better help you navigate? If you have three camera apps, or 50 games, how are you going to tell them apart with such flat, simple icons?
In some places the simple icons do help — wherever you want to keep the interface from obscuring content (as in Google docs), but in other instances where you want a lot of detail to help understand the interface, that detail is missing. Line thicknesses in the interface are really reduced, which is elegant, but which also makes it much harder to read the display. In some sense the interface seems better suited for a larger form factor.
I also had to discard my current background image because it made the apps unreadable, and it was very hard to find any sort of background where the new icons weren’t hard to read . And what’s with live backgrounds? Why would you want the background behind your apps to change randomly and pulsate? Unless you’re on the subway, stoned, and listening to iTunes?
On the bright side, I like iTunes radio (goodbye Pandora). Control center is nice once you get the hang of it. Quite a few apps and menus do get it right. For example, the compass is nice — it has a beautiful interface with more content than before (among other things it has a level feature). The keyboard is pretty good, as are some menus. The multiple window view in Safari is worse, however.
Bottom line: Form has triumphed over function in a way that makes the interface harder to use. Go ahead and upgrade if you want some of the new features, but keep your expectations low about the interface. C’mon Apple, you can do better.