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The good, the bad and the ugly of the iPhone IOS 7

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Stealing a bit from Charles Dickens, it was the best of Apple iPhone operating systems…it was the worst of Apple iPhone operating systems. IOS 7 has some nice features; it also has some horrible ones.

My wife and I didn’t expect to discover this dichotomy during the holiday season. However, when we transferred cell phone providers (AT & T to T-Mobile), keeping our iPhone 4’s, we were forced to make the switch from IOS 6.

Overall, many of the older IOS 6 features remain intact. So, learning the new OS shouldn’t have been that difficult. Famous last words!

The best feature is actually the new lighter screen backgrounds (Fig. 1) that replaced the older black backgrounds. Although this makes the screen a bit harder to view in sunlight, it provides more light when just using the screen as a low-powered flashlight at night.

The camera functionality is much improved. One can now choose from video, photo and square photo. Supposedly one can also incorporate panoramic views, if their current phone (iPhone 5) had the functionality.

One can access the Control Center (which includes screen brightness and other controls), by swiping up from the bottom of the device. Swiping up or down advances one through several sub-option or sub-control screens.

One can also limit ad tracking. Under settings, click on Privacy and find and activate the Advertising option at the bottom of the list.

Finally, the system moves much more quickly. Since we kept the same phone (and used it with the same cell phone provider initially), it was easy to detect faster processing speeds.

The worst change, so far, is the automatic updating of applications. On one hand, it is easy to turn the feature off. However, it seems that by doing so, one must enter their password for each and every app that needs updating. No doubt, Apple did this to “encourage” users to use the automatic updating feature. However, Apple has likely angered many a dedicated Mac user (current company included).

My initial research into the problem showed that there were some applications available to overcome re-entering the password for every app update. However, these involved some political and security specters. Hence, I opted not to try them.

Instead, I paid a visit to my local Apple store. There, Oscar, one of the “geniuses,” researched the problem and found an easy solution.

One has to enter the “Settings” menu and go to “General.” Then, scroll down to restrictions. Enter your restrictions password. Scroll down to “Require Password” option. If the selection is IMMEDIATE, then you’ll have the problem I experienced. That needs to be changed. You can do this by touching the “Require Password” line and selecting “15 minutes.”

Exit the Settings section and you should not have the problem I experienced.

Once again, the geniuses save the day!

Another negative feature involves turning off applications to save battery life. Older IOS systems allowed a double click of the home button and then, with a vibrating background, one could easily click off the application’s X button. The new version requires the user to perform the same double click of the home button and then drag the application’s display card (NOT the icon) up and off the screen. Be careful not to try and drag the home screen’s card off the screen.

I noticed, that with IOS 7 upgrade, my mail icon now shows a large number of mail messages. Before one could limit this to 50 or 100. According to Oscar, this change was made so the IOS 7 could mimic the mail as it appears on your iCloud. There’s no work-around here other than cleaning out old mail.

Finally, the font sizes and widths are aesthetically pleasing, but, in some apps and on some screens, they are hard on the eyes of the older generation. A darker, larger, font with thicker lines would be a plus.

The best ways to learn how to utilize the new functionalities of IOS 7 include visiting a nearby Apple Store and talking with a “genius,” searching the web for information, and/or buying various magazines or books that fully disclose the OS. This online article provides a great summary of many of the functionalities I’ve described here.

My favorite way of learning how things work is to simply press buttons. One can start on the Settings menu and try everything. In this way, one can understand what various settings are and, in some cases, what they do or don’t do. You can follow up by trying screen options in any app. Sometimes you have to click a button; sometimes you have to swipe it. Just have some fun, “exploring.”

I plan to keep atop this new IOS and provide updates to this article or write further articles as I discover new attributes and procedures. That’s why this article was updated on Dec. 29, 2013. I welcome feedback from readers, as well.

Meanwhile, one of my stepsons is thoroughly upset about the IOS 7 changes. I hope this article showcases that there is a lot of good things along with the bad. It took a long time to get him to buy into Apple. Now, I want to keep him there. That’s because a colleague just told me how bad the Windows 8 system is on PC’s and on Microsoft phones. Hence, the long-time image of an unfriendly Microsoft OS trumps even the few baddies in IOS 7.

© 2013 H. Michael Mogil

Disclaimer: The writer is a long-time Apple officiando. Since his first Apple II Plus computer in 1982, he has stuck with Apple, even through its “dark ages.” Today his family is home to six Apple appliances (and no PC’s).

Article written Dec. 28, 2013 and updated Dec. 29, 2013.

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