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Why I’m Disappointed With iOS 7 -The ‘Book Mystique Review

I’m not an early adopter by temperament or taste, but iOS 7 was so massively hyped before and after its release that curiosity got the better of my usual caution. I installed it on my iPad 2 six days after the new operating system’s public release. Unfortunately, I’m obliged to say that iOS 7 has been a disappointment to me.

My overall impression is that an awful lot of effort was expended on making version 7 look different from the preceding six iOS iterations, and evidently very little on making it work better in terms of practical functionality. In fact, in some important instances, it’s a poorer performer than version 6 was — particularly in its so-called “Multitasking” feature and its text-editing capabilities, improvements to which were at the top of my wishlist.

I truly detest the new app-switching (Multitasking) interface. It’s kind of deja vu all over again to what Apple did with merging the erstwhile Spaces and Exposé in OS X into the dog’s dinner that’s now called Mission Control in 10.7. and 10.8. I was never much of an Exposé user, but the former Spaces was one of my favorite and most heavily-used features and a tractable efficiency enhancer. Mission Control not nearly so much.

It’s an analogically similar dynamic with iOS 7 “Multitasking.” The iOS 6 app switcher was simple, but worked well and speeded up workflow. THe iOS 7 version slows it down with more complexity overhead and an excessive amount of scrolling required between app icons to make room for those “thumbnail” page previews. Whereas I could previously slide the previous apps list very quickly to an app I’d used, say, eight “slots” ago, now I can only go “back” three apps at a time, and with slower scrolling to boot. Apple might have at least made turning off the thumbnails a Settings choice, but no. I will concede that it’s now easier to quit apps by flicking them with a upwards gesture, but I tend to keep a bunch (typically 20 or so) apps open anyway, and even the new method of dismissing them is a mixed blessing, as I find myself too frequently quitting apps inadvertent gesture flicks – sometimes several tomes a day. OK, so I’m a klutz, but this was not an issue with the old app switcher. One thing I do like about the new one is that you can now summon the Home screen without using the mechanical Home button.

What I had hoped for (I admit that realistically it was never a very lively hope) was more real multitasking capability, especially the ability to display two pages or app windows simultaneously. Indeed, one of my biggest dissatisfactions with the iOS is it’s lack of Finder functions and directory level file access — something that both Google and Microsoft appreciate the virtues of with Android and Windows 8.1, but Apple stubbornly refuses to support, apparently having decided that catering to a minority of iOS users who are heavily production-oriented is not worth the effort. From a purely marketing perspective, maybe they’re making a shrewd call. Microsoft has made productivity support a marquee feature of their Surface tablet PCs — especially the Surface Pro, and that doesn’t seem to have translated to healthy sales performance.

Still and all, it’s frustrating for those of us who love Apple’s hardware for the elegant design and high quality, but find working around the iOS’s angularities tiresome, and it makes me wonder if I would be more sensible to scale the platform switch learning curve and get a Microsoft Surface Pro, or more promisingly price-wise, one of the new Windows 8.1 supporting Venue Pro tablets that Dell announced last week, and whose price features equation looks extremely attractive, and have been getting enthusiastic pre-release press.

If you’ll pardon a digression, the new Dell Venue 8 Pro and Dell Venue 11 Pro Windows 8.1-based tablets combine the ability to integrate into an existing corporate environment with full compatibility with current Windows applications and Microsoft Office integration.

The lightweight Dell Venue 8 Pro is powered by an Intel Atom Quad Core processor with 2 GB of RAM, runs Windows 8.1, has an 8-inch 1280×800 (same resolution as the 13-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro) HD IPS display, has advanced connectivity options and is claimed to provide long enough battery life that range anxiety is no longer an issue, and is available with 32 GB or 64 GB data storage capacity. Its front/rear cameras support 1.2MP/5MP respectively Users can also stay productive with Office 2013 Home & Student, included with the device, and the optional Dell Active Stylus. The Venue 8 Pro will be available in either black or red.

The Dell Venue 11 Pro, also based on Windows 8.1, provides 2-in-1 flexibility with the power of an Ultrabook, convenience of a detachable keyboard and experience of a desktop. Intel Core processors (up to Core i5) and 2 GB of RAM provide desktop application performance. Unlike Apple’s iPad tablets, it has a user removable/replaceable battery, a large, 10.8-inch 1920×1080 full HD display with wide viewing angles, front/rear cameras of 2MP/8MP respectively, and is available with 32 GB or 64 GB data storage capacity and a variety of keyboard and stylus options. On the downside, the Venue Pro models are available only in black, but this still has to be the most attractive cost/benefit value available in a tablet for production oriented use.

The Dell Venue 8 Pro will be available from October 18 on http://www.dell.com in the United States and select countries around the world. The Venue 11 Pro, XPS 11 will be available in November. Starting prices are:
• Venue 8 Pro: $299.99
• Venue 11 Pro: $499.99
The Dell Venue 8 Pro will be available from October 18 on http://www.dell.com in the United States and select countries around the world. The Venue 11 Pro, XPS 11 will be available in November. Starting prices are:
• Venue 8 Pro: $299.99
• Venue 11 Pro: $499.99

For more information, visit:
http://goo.gl/1QIzuU

Back in iOS 7 land — specifically its many text manipulation shortcomings; text editing was tedious enough in iOS 6, but as I noted above, it’s even worse in iOS 7 — especially selection of blocks of text longer than a paragraph or so. The problem is worse in some apps than others, so perhaps it’s partly an app optimization problem, but I miss the precision of mouse-driven pointing and dragging terribly, as well as many little things like forward delete and one-click case switching. Happily a few enlightened third-party developers (notably Germany’s Infovole with its fleet of excellent iOS text editing apps) have mercifully restored those functions.

I like the look of the iOS 7 Safari, but I absolutely revile the way it opens the Favorites page every time you summon the keyboard to copy or paste a URL from the address field. This of course involves extra unnecessary taps and slows things down even more when switching apps. I also wish they hadn’t moved the Reader icon over to the left of the address field, although that’s a small thing.

Speaking of browser woes, while Chrome at least doesn’t impose the Favorites page foolishness, support for select or paste from/into Bing search keyword fields is broken with iOS 7 (Bing works fine in Safari and Sleipnir). With Chrome the insertion cursor and the Loupe appear, but no menu to select an action. This seems to be a Chrome or Bing issue in iOS, and of course one can use Google, but it’s more bugginess one has to deal with and has pushed me toward Maxthon and Diigo for workaday browsing, with a side benefit being that the latter two also support a Reader mode function — an especially nice one in Maxthon.

As for iOS 7′s much-ballyhooed new look, I’m neither enchanted nor offended by it. I’m a form follows function guy, and more interested in how well things work than what they look like. To my sense of aesthetics, some apps look better in iOS 7 — Safari for instance — while others, one example being a calculator I’m partial to — PC Calc Lite — look worse. I think I like the new mini progress bars on tabs in Safari better than the big one in the address field that I’ve never been particularly fond of. In general, iOS 7 looks OK, but so did the older iOS versions. Overall, the lighter, brighter, colorful motif of iOS 7 is more cheerful-looking, but lacks the gravitas of the erstwhile iOS theme. I do applaud the end of skeumorphism, however.

iOS installation went smoothly enough, although it took a lot longer than I had budgeted for, since I had to first download and install the latest version of iTunes for compatibility with my Mac. That, along with doing a too long neglected global backup of the iPad’s contents and the upgrade download itself (two hours) took about 3 1/2 hours total over my not very speedy rural wireless broadband connection. Still, the essentially trouble-free, low-hassle upgrade process was another reminder of why I stick with Apple devices.

As I think I’ve noticed before with previous iOS version updates, I had significantly more free memory available after than I did prior to the upgrade — some 7 1/2 GB of my 16 GB iPad’s total capacity compared with 5 1/2 GB noted after the backup run.

Back in the negative column, I truly loath the new little progress indicator circles in the App Store Updates screen. The iOS 6 motif of a progress bar in the app icon worked for me. Seems like changing stuff for the sake of changing stuff, which is a lot of what iOS 7 is about.

I burned up about an hour sleuthing why I had no sound output after the upgrade. It turned out that the install had activated the “Mute” button in the Control Center, and the problem was cured with a single tap, once I determined what the problem was.

Overall speed wise, I needn’t have worried. iOS 7 seems to be about as lively as iOS 6 on my getting long in the tooth iPad 2, or if there has been a slowdown, it’s a subtle one. On the other hand, battery life appears to be suffering modestly. Gizmodo has some helpful ideas on how to mitigate that issue here: http://goo.gl/LMbLTs The issue is more a sort of raggedness in performance of various functions than the speed they execute.

Am I happy that I chose to upgrade this early in iOS 7′s development? Sort of, but not with a lot of enthusiasm. Change is inevitable. I don’t hate iOS 7, but judged on efficiency, I don’t like it as much as I did iOS 6. I just did a quick review of the marquee new features in iOS 7 on Apple’s Web Page, and not one of them shouts out “gotta have it” to me. My iOS upgrade wishlist remained pretty much unaddressed in this upgrade, alas. If downgrading to iOS 6 was an option, I would seriously consider it. But that’s not an open alternative.

With my Macs over the past 20-plus years, I have almost always installed new Mac OS and OS X versions on a separate hard drive partition, and kept my existing and proven old System intact until I was absolutely sure I was happy with the upgrade. Indeed, I currently have both OS X 10.8 and 10.6 installed on my MacBook (I skipped Lion altogether), and after using Mountain Lion for several months, I gradually reverted to Snow Leopard for pretty much everything except checking out software that demands a later system version. I like 10.6 better, and it does stuff that I find functionally useful, such as being able to run Power PC Carbon legacy apps.

Unfortunately, you can’t partition iOS device drives, so dual booting iOS versions isn’t an option, even if Apple still let one install iOS 6, which they apparently won’t.
TIME Techland’s Matt Peckham notes that that upgrading to iOS 7 is a one-way trip, citing an International Business Times report that if you try to downgrade from iOS 7 to iOS 6, iTunes will show an error message, indicating that devices running on the public release of iOS 7 are not eligible for that specific firmware build.

The Register’s Jasper Hamill says that unlike with the developer beta of iOS 7 that left the option of retreating back to iOS 6, with the release of the iOS 7 final Apple has stopped “signing” its older firmware, and without a signature, the older operating system won’t install. Techland’s Packham advises that if you’re still running iOS 6 and pondering an upgrade to iOS 7, make sure you’re ready to make the leap, because for better or worse, there’s no going back. Good advice. If you’re happy with the service you’re getting with iOS 6, I would suggest that there’s no hurry, unless there’s some new iOS feature that you. App compatibility shouldn’t be a problem with iOS 6 for some time yet.

One point in the “plus” column for iOS 7 multitasking is that while in the past, Apple has restricted background operations to only a few apps that use certain accessibility settings, with iOS 7 developers have been provided with an API that can enable an app to refresh in the background (although an associated negative will likely be diminished battery life). This moves the iOS at least a baby step further toward real multitasking capability. However, there’ a long way to go yet.

I’ve been fairly harsh in this critique, so I’ll end on a more positive note. Despite my disappointment over some aspects of iOS 7 that are (or would be if they existed) important to me, I want to say that the superior Apple user and ownership experience remains intact I may use in frustration that from a function and features perspective, a Windows or even an Android tablet would cater more closely to my needs and preferences in a tablet computer. However, the likelihood of me bolting the Apple platform for my next tablet is very slim notwithstanding. The old Apple Mac slogan “it just works” perhaps applies to the iOS even more than it did to the Mac. That elegant solidity and minimum hassle associated is not something to take lightly, and I don’t, so odds are that I’ll persevere with iOS 7, and whatever comes after it. I just wish Apple had chosen to dedicate more of the effort spent on changing iOS 7′s look to finding ways to make things better for those of is who work a lot with text, and switch between apps frequently. Would it be that hard to enable viewing two open windows simultaneously?

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