iOS 7 Features

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Did Apple Copy?

iOS 7 is not without controversy. Like any Apple release or announcement, it has been attacked by critics. There is the claim that iOS 7 copies many features from Android. The screenshots seem to tell a different story — iOS 7 looks and functions differently than its competitors. If anything the screenshot comparisons appearing on many sites demonstrate just how different iOS 7 is from other mobile operating systems.

iOS 7 has copied some features, such as animated wallpaper from Android and the multitasking interface from webOS. Both of these features have been improved signficantly. Some of the colors do seem similar to Windows Phone. Many cry foul, as Apple has sued Samsung over intellectual property issues and won. There’s a difference between being in a band that’s influenced by Led Zeppelin and covering Stairway to Heaven outright. Abstracting away details is a tactic used by pundits.

Most of these critics don’t use Macs. The translucent slide-out panels are copied from Apple’s own OS X. The Documents and Applications folders on the app dock have had this design for some time. Many people also don’t know that widgets, which are not in iOS, have been in OS X before the modern smart phone even existed. Imagine the outrage if iOS 7 had widgets!

Apple can’t even copy themselves these days. Some claims of derivation are so outlandish, it seems like this is just sour grapes from fanboys. The talking points are contradictory. Punditry tends to defy logic. On the one hand, people claim iOS 7 is awful, but in the same breath, it’s also a carbon copy of their preferred mobile OS.

The user interface is only part of the operating system. It is literally the tip of the iceberg. iOS 7 has over 1500 new APIs (application programming interfaces) that allow developers to continue creating the best apps. It also launches with enhanced iCloud services and iTunes Radio.

It’s disheartening to see the fanboy wars over the most superficial and uninteresting facet of an operating system — the user interface. The user interface is easier to understand than the deeper aspects of an operating system. Armchair developers and UI designers abound, all with their own opinion. No one would even hire them to design a paper airplane. Most are unfamiliar with processes such as usability testing, not to mention the iterative process of designing, testing, and going back to the drawing board. Furthermore, once you get into the deeper details of the operating system (the APIs that allow for amazing graphics and complicated motion physics) iOS leaves its competitors in the dust. The critics don’t want to go there. Many of them don’t know how to go there!

I expect another antennagate, mapplegate, etc. when iOS 7 releases in the fall, presumably with a refresh of the iPhone and iPad. As with any release, there will be flaws, and the blogosphere will blow them out of proportion. Many of the tech pundits won’t even use the new OS or devices, but simply regurgitate the talking points. (continue…)

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