Sunday, September 22, 2013

. . . Upgrading to the newest Apple Operating System - iOS 7

The plain-jane look and feel of iOS6 really stands out when it directly compared to the new OS

While other regions received the newest version of Apple's mobile device Operating System (iOS7) before we did, when the upgrade/update became available this past week I went ahead and applied it -- first to my iPhone (I use an iPhone 4S these days) and then, later, to the iPad that I have because of work requirements.

In both instances the upgrade process was smooth and trouble-free -- at least with respect to the OS and the Apple mobile devices.  I cannot say that there were not a few bumps in the road because there were, with the most notable being caused by changes to an app that I use daily for the Audible Book and Entertainment system (audio books basically).

It seems that Audible is now owned by Amazon -- I think I actually knew that before now, but it was one of those facts that is read, tucked away, and forgotten rather quickly in my case.

The process of upgrading the OS for my iPhone meant that I was logged out of ALL of the active apps on the device -- including the Audible client which is always running in the background because I really do use it on a regular basis thanks to a very large library of Audio Books that I own having been a member of that service since 1998...  

Well that and I am trying to learn Spanish on my own via a neat audio book series called Spanish in the Car.

When I went to log back into Audible after the update to the new OS my password did not work.  

It turns out that the Audible client (and website) has been switched over to use the accounts and login information for Amazon rather than its own account system, and I did now know the password for my Amazon account because I have not used it in years.

Long story short?  I ended up needing to ring up support and have them reset the password for me.

But really if you think about it, I upgraded the Operating System on both my mobile phone AND the tablet I use for work and the only problem that I faced was a password reset for an unrelated app...  

That is way beyond "pretty good" compared to previous experiences with the process way back in the day, I am just saying...

The visual changes to the OS are one of its more obvious -- and striking -- changes, and speaking for myself I found them to be a very pleasing and welcome feature for a new OS that includes a plethora of added features and is much easier to use.  If this actually cost money it would probably be worth the price of admission.

"I Don't Like Change"
Because one of my day jobs is being a columnist for the Business and Tech Section of the Cape Cod Times, I was not surprised to receive an invitation last month to download a pre-release version of the new OS early.

The email came from one of the public relations agencies that represents Apple, and basically it offered me the option of getting the OS installed on my devices early.  

If I had actually been assigned to review it or write about the OS, an early install would have been just the thing for me but, as that was not the case, I obtained my copy of the new OS just like everyone else did when it was released to our region

While the conversion to iOS7 was painless and quick for me, the same cannot be said for my kids, who -- while they did succeed in the transition -- both emerged from the experience feeling an intense dislike for iOS7.

"I don't like change," my daughter announced.  "Particularly when the changes make me have to learn how to use my phone all over again!  This is not good!"

That was how my daughter announced her take on iOS7, having marched into our living room to declare her personal experience in the upgrade process having been completed.

The changes that she was referring to -- the method by which the user ensures that the app or program on their device is no longer using resources or memory happens to be one of the changes that I viewed as an improvement.

The direct result of this is that I found myself more actively engaged in the conversation than might have otherwise been the case.  

It turned out that her reasoning was much more complex and covered other aspects of the new OS.  

It was not simply a gut-reaction in other words, and as it turned out she had well-thought-out and logical arguments that supported her opinion.  Good for Autumn!

Two of the users of iOS tech in our home: My daughter Autumn makes extensive use of both her iPhone and iPad, while her pet kittens Abaddon and Beelzebub are invariably the target of its built-in camera and audio recording capabilities as she likes to take snaps and short videos of the cuteness that they are and do in order to share them with her mates online.

Practical?  Yeah, Pretty Much
My kids are pretty smart even if it is their Dad saying so, and as we discussed the issues and as I made a mental note of that fact, I naturally began to tally up the various reasons behind my own more than favorable opinion of the new OS, because I could easily see myself writing this blog entry.

Where my daughter disliked iOS7 based upon subjective arguments and a noted dislike for change, the reasoning behind my son's condemnation of iOS7 came from an entirely different direction indded.

"It occurs to me that a lot of the superficial changes that were made to the OS were made just because they could.  Change for the sake of change," my son Peter says.

"On the positive side of the scales the implementation of the mini-control panel is pretty brilliant," Peter allowed.  Coming from him that is high praise indeed; Peter is not very free with praise and the concept of hyperbole is not something that he is either comfortable with nor likely to indulge in even if he were.

The new feature that he is referring to is the new control panel that has been built into the interface at the bottom, and which is accessible even while playing a game or using an app that has full control over the screen.

The New Instant Control Panel
When you run your finger along the bottom edge of the screen a tab appears, and when you swipe in a generally upward direction on that tab you open a new control panel with icons on either side for pretty much ALL of the basic elements for the device.

Depending upon the orientation when you activate the function (whether you are using your phone's screen in landscape or portrait orientation basically) the buttons / icons will be splashed top and bottom or along the left and right sides.

The Control Panel offers you one-tap On and Off control for the following:
  • Airplane Mode
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • Do Not Disturb
  • Portrait Orientation Lock
 on the left side or top edge of the panel.
  • Flashlight
  • Timer Controls (Opens the Timer Menu)
  • Calculator (Opens the Calculator App)
  • Camera Button (Opens the Camera View)
along the right-hand side or bottom edge of the panel.

In the center of the new Control Panel is perhaps the most useful and best controls - being from top to bottom the following:

(1) Screen Birghtness Slider
(2) Rewind / Play or Stop / Fast Forward Controls
(3) Volume Control Slider

Seriously, these all may appear on their face to be intuitive and, well, the word "Obvious" springs to mind -- but there you have it!  

Here is a control panel for the most common features of the device, and you wonder why they only just now got around to adding it into the device?!

Observers of what is still widely considered to be the "new" and "struggling" sans-Jobs-Apple consider the process of revealing the features of the new OS to be a critical element in how the company will present itself not just to the public but to investors.  There is no argument that Jobs was the creative spark that revived Apple and transformed it back into the force to be reckoned with that it had previously been.  But where it will go now is anybody's guess...

The Improved Topside Menu and Interface
While we are used to seeing that same effect when it comes to swiping the top edge of the screen on our iPhones -- with iOS7 when you swipe down from the top edge of the screen you now get an improved menu within which you will find time and date based information, with the very top consisting of a set of tabs reading "Today" "All" and "Missed" that serves to organize the events they contain.

Under the "Today" tab you have the date, weather conditions and high temperature as the default, along with the display of whatever the scheduled activities are for today and right now.

A list of "Events" for the day appears in the bottom section, and when you swipe to the right you get the display for the second tab which is labeled "ALL" and which contains a summary of the recent events that you have undertaken on your phone or which your phone is keeping track of...

The final tab -- labeled "MISSED" -- contains a detailed listing of the things you failed to do, from answering a phone call to attending a meeting, and I am sure that there are other things it tracks and tells you about, I just somehow managed to not do things that would cause the phone to get uspet.  

Go me!

What it all means?
We could probably spend the rest of the day discussing all of the different things that iOS7 can do and how it makes your mobile device so much better, trotting out all of the good things that have changed on it.  Seriously.

I actually sat down and made lists of the changes, lists of the improvements, and eventually, lists of the lists I was making!

But in the end I realized that what iOS7 is (and this may shock you) is the results of some engineer somewhere at Apple sitting down and making their own list of all of the suggestions that users of Apple's mobile product lines have sent in over the course of the past three decades, and then maybe making a list of all of the common and utility type aspects that THEY wish were present...

And then implementing it all.

I have decided to rename the iOS7 update.  Heretoforward it shall now be known as:

iOS7 - The Common Sense Update

That is all.  You can go back to your games and work now.

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