Seven High (and Low) Points of iOS7

Posted by: on Nov 30, 2013 | One Comment

Today’s Special Tech Tips is a guest post from Travis Phillips.  Travis took a leave of absence from doing guest posts on this blog to go start his own blog but the siren song of providing Tech Tips pulled him back.  If you are interested in sustainable home building (green build) and being a conscientious consumer, please visit his blog at

Apple faithful have a shiny new operating system to gush over with iOS7, just as naysayers have fresh fuel for their gripes about everything Apple.  The more that changes, the more things stay the same, right?

apple-ios-7-logo-2Ignore these two extremes, and the rest of iOS7 users are likely to end up somewhere in the middle: some things about the new operating system that we like, and other things we’re not too crazy about.  Here’s a quick rundown of my seven favorite and not-so-favorite discoveries in iOS7:


Seven: Control Center
Many folks will ask why Apple didn’t add Control Center a long time ago.  Why not?  I have no idea, but I’m glad they finally got around to it.  How great to have easy access to brightness, flashlight, do not disturb, and other common settings by simply swiping up from the bottom of the screen.  Of course, as airlines approve gate-to-gate usage of electronics, it may be a moot point for Control Center to include Airplane mode.  Or maybe iOS7.1 just needs to add a setting to configure what services (like cell and GPS) are turned off when Airplane mode is turned on.

Six: Clock
Yes, I realize there was a clock in the older operating systems, but there are a couple of iOS7 improvements I’m pretty happy about.  Specifically, I think it’s great that the timer now shows up on the lock screen, instead of having to unlock things and dig for the app … like when your hands are covered in flour and you’re wondering how much longer the pie is supposed to stay in the oven.  Also, the addition of a snooze feature for reminders and the alarm is long overdue and definitely welcome.

Five: Air Drop
It’s taken me a bit of time to figure out what is the point of Air Drop.  I mean, it’s not like it was that difficult (or any additional work) to email or text that awesome selfie to your buds in pre-Air Drop days.  And Air Drop is sloooow to load your nearby and drop-able friends (and doesn’t work on anything pre-iPhone 5).  As in “is this working?” slow.  But, for those occasions when you’ve got a whole bunch of photos or a video that you want to share with someone, Air Drop works great.  Sure, you still have to wait what seems like forever for your drop-able friends to appear on screen, but that’s a small price for the convenience of being able to easily and painlessly share a video that’s too big to email or a album of photos that would otherwise show up in an endless text stream.

Four: Landscape View for Music photo
iPod/Music controls have always worked best with iPhones and iPods in portrait view, but iOS7 takes usability to a new low when viewing the screen in landscape mode while listening to a playlist.  Honestly, I’m not even sure what it’s showing … and I certainly haven’t figured out how to do anything useful with this new “album wall.”  Even more frustrating is that the displayed albums aren’t even filtered to ones within the current playlist. I’d lock the screen orientation, except that Music is the only app I don’t like in landscape view.

Three:  Landscape View for Home Screens
While I’m on the topic of landscape (or horizontal) view, can I ask why the home screens on an iPhone won’t rotate when the phone is turned horizontal?  I realize this isn’t new in iOS7; iPhones have always been limited this way.  But why?  Home screens on the iPad rotate to landscape view, why can’t the iPhone?  Sure, the proportions of the iPhone screen mean that landscape view might not work as well as the more square iPad screen.  Still, it seems silly that the home screen wouldn’t rotate so it could be viewed in the same orientation as the app you just exited, for example.

Two: Calendar
Scrolling through the months is an improvement, as I was always challenged in the page-flipping skill department.  The new up-down scroll motion works more easily for me, but the change to how list view works is one I’m not as happy about.  Not only is it not intuitive (tap the magnifying glass icon, in case you’ve yet to find it), but it’s also not possible to add an appointment without exiting list view.  I’m sure some developer can tell me why this had to change in iOS7 and “list” couldn’t remain a view option just like week, month and year.

One: Apple Maps
Oh, boy.  Apple sure has made itself an easy target with its Maps app.  Still.

Yes, Apple Maps still has problems finding correct addresses.  And Siri (or Suri, depending on whose voice you want to hear) needs to head back to school for some pronunciation help.  Hawaiian locals and natives, for example, will be appalled when they hear her butcher Kamehameha, who established the Hawaiian kingdom in 1810 and for whom the entire Hawaiian school system is named, among other things.  He’s not exactly obscure.

But Apple Maps isn’t all bad news.  While I usually prefer Google Maps for navigation (mostly because I actually like to get where I’m going, but let’s set that aside for a moment), Apple has two features I really appreciate: after dusk, it switches to a less-bright “night” view, which is helpful to reduce distraction and glare when navigating after dark.

The second feature is even more helpful: in the iPhone’s settings, there are three volume adjustments for Apple navigation.  Even though both Google and Apple navigation mute other audio when offering guidance, Google’s audio often was at a lower volume than my music and wasn’t adjustable, meaning guidance was hard to hear if I didn’t have overall volume at a moderately high level.  In contrast, the highest volume setting for Apple Maps (which boosts or quiets guidance compared to the volume selected for general output) was much easier to hear when the general volume was at a moderate or lower level.  That would be enough to justify using Apple Maps, if its navigation was actually accurate.

In Summary

All in all, I think iOS7 is a worthwhile upgrade from iOS6.  There are a few tweaks I’d love to see, of course, but you can’t make all the people happy all the time, right?

If you’re looking for more tips and tricks, you can find a couple good resources at and

1 Comment

  1. Bill Kutik
    December 1, 2013

    Owning no “i” appendage, I’m not sure why I read this except that it came from Mike, though written by Travis.

    So imagine my joy at finding something I could correct or at least expand on.

    “…after dusk, it switches to a less-bright “night” view, which is helpful to reduce distraction and glare when navigating after dark.”

    As a long-time navigator on big racing sailboats which often race through the night, I know it takes our eyes 20 minutes after leaving a lit space to adjust to the darkness. You know that because you can see more stars after being outside for awhile.

    Any bright light destroys night vision and your eyes have to start all over. Which is why the navigation station below on a sailboat, viewable by the crew on deck in the cockpit, has a red light for night use. Sort of like a photo darkroom, if anyone besides me remembers developing film for pictures! You’ve probably seen one in movies.

    So the new “night view” is not to reduce distraction and glare, but to avoid killing night vision, more critical when driving a car than piloting a sailboat.

    Computer guys have always been big sailors. Putting Larry aside, and read “Soul of the New Machine” by Tracy Kidder.