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iOS 7 kneejerk review: adopting the best of the competition, and that's okay

iOS 7 kneejerk review: adopting the best of the competition, and that's okay

Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat: we absolutely love the look of iOS 7. It may just be that iOS finally looks markedly different from how it has been for the past 5 years, it may be that Apple has finally left behind the hideous skeuomorphism techniques, or it may just be that it reminds us of a mashup between Windows Phone and Google Now. Whatever the reason, we think Apple has done a solid great job of adopting the best of the competition to make something decidedly Apple.

And, everyone who is shouting on one side or the other about "copying" or whatever, just stop the argument right now. The argument is one of the silliest possible. As we've talked about time and time again, everything in life is built upon what came before it. If you look hard enough, nothing is original, and everything has been inspired by something else. We certainly take issue with Apple claiming that it was the first to provide certain features when it clearly wasn't, or with its proclivity with lawsuits, but those issues are separate from what we're talking about here. If Apple starts suing over iOS 7 features, we'll be sure to call the company out on it, but until then, we're just talking about the iOS 7 update. If you're complaining about that, well once again, you should probably stop, because no company would ever say in a keynote "this is a great feature just like what you'd find on the competition". That's absurd to expect. 

If you're an Android user, you should just accept that the design choices of Matias Duarte are making the system more and more like webOS as the days go on. If you're a BlackBerry user, you should know that BB10 is basically a mashup of Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. If you're a Windows Phone user, you should accept that minimalism existed long long before your platform. And, if you're an Apple user, just come to terms with the fact that Apple does take ideas from all of its competitors. Even the original iPhone wasn't terribly new, it was just a mashup of smartphones of the day (Windows Mobile/BlackBerry) and the various PDAs that existed (mostly Windows CE), with an improved touchscreen. 

iOS 7's borrowed/unique features

The key in all of this is in making something unique. Sure, Android draws heavily on webOS these days, but it is still distinctly Android. And, with iOS 7, Apple may have used the same design philosophies that we see in Windows Phone and Google Now, but the overall effect is still a system that looks distinctly Apple. While the flatness and simplified iconography of the OS are similar to that of Windows Phone, iOS 7 also draws heavily on transparency and ambiance (which some may find has been inspired by Ubuntu) to create a completely different feel. Similarly, while the Apple app redesigns use the same minimalist white with color accents that you'll find in Google Now and other Google apps, the interaction and controls of each still looks to be uniquely iOS. 

iOS 7 kneejerk review: adopting the best of the competition, and that's okay
The transparency and ambiance (aka color matching accents based on your background image) also gives a clue as to why Apple has been hiring so many former AMD employees, and gives more credence to the rumors that Apple is going to be pushing hard on GPU performance in the next-gen hardware. While the iconography has been simplified, the transitions, animations, and overall OS has been made more visual, including the full-page multitasking previews (which can obviously be found in Android, WP, and BB, not to mention MacOS, Windows, Ubuntu, and more), and the revamped Photos app

And, that Photos app has some clues that Apple isn't just drawing on other mobile platforms for inspiration, but popular apps as well. The Photos app in iOS 7 looks like it is trying its hardest to be Instagram. Obviously, the photo filters are something that Instagram made popular, although almost every photo app in existence has adopted them, including Android, Twitter, and Flickr. But, the entire stream of the iOS 7 Photos app feels very social with the inclusion of pictures shared through AirDrop, as well as comments from your friends. We had thought that after the debacle that was Ping, Apple was taking a step back from social apps, but clearly the company still thinks it can build a compelling social experience for users. 

iOS 7 kneejerk review: adopting the best of the competition, and that's okay
AirDrop overall looks to be a pretty interesting new feature for iOS 7, because it has taken the problem of sharing easily with those near you and removed the need to physically bump phones together, as with the NFC equipped Androids like the newer Samsung Galaxy devices, which were mentioned directly in Apple's keynote. Of course, Apple didn't mention Samsung's Group Play feature, which does basically the same thing as AirDrop, but it wouldn't make much sense for Apple to talk about that. Apple didn't specifically say how it worked, just saying that it was "peer-to-peer WiFi" and that it was "secure". There is a possibility that this means AirDrop is using WiFi Direct, but given Apple's preference for proprietary solutions, we don't know for sure it is using that standard. So, again, Apple has taken a problem that already has a number of solutions, and come up with one that makes sense within the iOS world. 

The last point we wanted to talk about is a small one that some may not have noticed in the keynote, because it was quickly moved past. The only reason it struck us as interesting was because how often will you hear the word "parallax" used in a keynote that has nothing to do with astronomy or DC Comics? There have been a small subset of users who have been calling for live wallpapers to make their way to iOS, and with the new transparent design of iOS 7, that may still be on the way in the future, but iOS 7 does have a very subtle way of making it feel like the background is more alive, which is the parallax effect. As you are swiping from screen to screen, the way the background is presented in relation to the icons now shifts to give more of a sense of movement. It's an incredibly small detail, but one that will have a small and aggregate impact on a huge amount of time spent interacting with your device. Apple certainly can be accused of sweating the small stuff.

What Apple didn't include

Of course, no overview of a new iOS update can be complete without talking about the things that still don't exist. As Apple pointed out a number of times during the keynote, the company takes longer with its products because it focuses deeply on specific features that will make the release, while leaving out completely some others.

iOS 7 kneejerk review: adopting the best of the competition, and that's okay
There is always a list that can be made with "features we'd like to see" in iOS, but the problem with those lists are all the same: what we'd like to see and what Apple is likely to ever include are two very very different things. For example, in our recent list of features we'd like in iOS 7, we mentioned a few like USB mass storage mode, Flash player support, open access to the Nitro Java Script engine, UI themes, and changeable default applications which are most likely never going to be added by Apple, simply because none of those features fits with Apple's philosophies of control and "making choices for the user". We could have just as easily said we hoped to see a hookable Share menu in iOS, like that of Android or WP, but that's just as unlikely. 

A few of our desired features, like parallax backgrounds, bigger folders, and quick settings have made it into iOS 7. And, that just leaves two things that we hoped to see that we didn't. First, we'll tackle the easy one - vertical App Store lists. This was a hope, simply because we preferred the design. It's not impossible that Apple brings it back, but it will likely be a while, because Apple won't be pushing a major App Store redesign too soon after the last. 

And, the big one of course is widgets. There is little doubt that at some point Apple will include some variation on the idea of widgets or Live Tiles. We've seen plenty of concepts that would make sense in the iOS world, including one that even took the Live Tile resize function, and one that was so compelling that Apple actually hired the designer that made the concept. 

The comments by HTC that 90% of users don't care about widgets could provide some reason why Apple hasn't added the feature, or it could have other roots. Just like multitasking and automatic App Store updates sound as though they were delayed because of issues over power usage, the issue with widgets could very well have roots in data usage for all we know. Maybe if iOS 8 includes some sort of system-wide data compression technology, Apple would also use that as an opportunity to add widgets.

Conclusion

You can point to a number of the UI changes and make comparisons to other platforms or products that had those features before they were found in iOS, and you would likely be able to make your argument. But, given that you could do the same with every other platform and product on the market, it doesn't make the argument any more compelling or valid. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what other platforms have, it matters what users get. If iOS has a better way to share files, we sure hope that Android and Windows Phone find a way to copy it, so that those users benefit; and, if there are features that make sense within the iOS world, we hope that Apple adds those too. Because what features are likely to make the jump is only based on if it makes sense in for the platform and help users, not whether people in comment threads will get angry

Sure, Apple has found inspiration in many different places for the changes found in iOS 7, but what we should really be focusing on is that Apple has finally made significant changes to iOS. Apple has ditched skeuomorphism and the tacky fake materials that were included there and brought a very nice, clean design to the platform. No one feature addition to iOS really stands out above the rest, but there are a lot of solid improvements overall that should make things for iOS users better, and that's what really matters. 

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posted on 10 Jun 2013, 16:16 76

1. _Bone_ (Posts: 2140; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


It's only stealing when others do it, Apple is "borrowing" ideas?

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 16:19 58

2. AnTuTu (Posts: 972; Member since: 14 Oct 2012)


They wait and watch what other giants bring to the market. And then after couple of years they merge all those features together and say "Innovation".

What a shame.....

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 17:23 12

45. Hallucinator (Posts: 344; Member since: 24 May 2010)


Kind of like Android did with The iPhone?

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 18:35 3

68. darkkjedii (Posts: 12621; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


He'll ignore that, watch.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 19:28 14

81. AnTuTu (Posts: 972; Member since: 14 Oct 2012)


I won't ignore this as I always tell the truth and due to that I own your a$$ in every article. Grow up

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 19:51 5

84. bucky (Posts: 1574; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


Actually to be dead honest, you really don't.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 19:53 9

85. AnTuTu (Posts: 972; Member since: 14 Oct 2012)


Actually to be dead honest I wasn't talking to you dude and I just saw you first time around.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 22:46 3

112. pixelado (Posts: 130; Member since: 16 Feb 2013)


Wow, you must think you totally owned him, right?

So, tell me, do you really think Android was "inspired" solely and entirely by iOS? Early Android versions looked more like and improved mix of Windows Mobile 6.5 and Symbian if you ask me.

Guess this won't matter to you, but that's fine.

posted on 11 Jun 2013, 12:08

139. techaman (unregistered)


android did none of that the guys wanted a os to go on top of any system use whats there to make it better and faster, iphone copied all other phones and tweeked a few things and gave it a metal back and said owwww wow look at this.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 16:27 15

7. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)


It's almost never stealing, no matter who does it, as long as it is incorporated into the platform ethos and made a natural part of the experience. It doesn't matter where the idea comes from. I know I'm personally very happy that Android is taking heavily from webOS, because it's making my daily experience better.

As stated above, Apple claiming that features are original when they aren't is the real issue, but that doesn't happen nearly as often as people think.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 16:32 35

10. Googler (Posts: 813; Member since: 10 Jun 2013)


That really doesn't explain the plethora of lawsuits Apple has waged though.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 16:42 12

15. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)


It's not meant to. If your issue is lawsuits, then talk about lawsuits when they happen, and be sure to note in your complaints how the biggest issue with lawsuits is the broken system the USPTO has created.

If you're angry about something, direct that anger where it is due. Anger over lawsuits doesn't detract from the fact that Apple has made solid improvements in iOS 7.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 19:13 4

78. deathgod (Posts: 122; Member since: 23 Nov 2011)


I think he's referring more to how apple criticize's others for 'borrowing' and sues, and then goes on to do the same but calls it 'innovation'.

I personally think the new UI looks great and am glad that those that love iOS are getting the features their comp have enjoyed for a while now.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 19:23 13

79. AnTuTu (Posts: 972; Member since: 14 Oct 2012)


What I have learned so far in couple of years in PA that "MichaelHeller" is a die hard Apple fan.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 20:59 10

89. Googler (Posts: 813; Member since: 10 Jun 2013)


Little defensive, aren't we. Simple point is this, when someone copies Apple, they end up in court. When Apple copies someone, we get an article from you about how it's okay. I've read tons of comments about you being biased but never really believed them until now. Apple has sued plenty over less things copied than what they revealed today, and it's okay with you. How sad. And it's clear Apple is justified because they are taking advantage of a broken patent system. Sadder still.

For the record though, it's not anger. Not at all. It's disappointment more than anything, but you missed that being so defensive.

posted on 11 Jun 2013, 12:13 1

141. techaman (unregistered)


your right i mean look at the name iphone was in brazil on a phone before the iphone came out and what happened lawyers and money and courts pushed it to a small corner

posted on 11 Jun 2013, 09:58 1

135. CellularNinja (Posts: 303; Member since: 27 Sep 2011)


@MichaelHeller I can appreciate what you're trying to do here in defending Apple against all the android fans like myself, there's nothing wrong with that. But I feel like you're telling us what to think way too much. Should people be bringing up Apple's ridiculous lawsuits in this article, maybe not. But replying to all of these comments telling the user what to think and that there opinion is not the right one is not really necessary, and it's kind of annoying. I understand what you're trying to do in defending Apple to keep the peace, but it's getting to be a little too much I think.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 17:45 1

51. zekes (Posts: 213; Member since: 14 Aug 2012)


u got coned

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 18:37 1

69. darkkjedii (Posts: 12621; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


He owned your ass sonnnn

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 21:01

90. Googler (Posts: 813; Member since: 10 Jun 2013)


Okay.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 22:51

114. pixelado (Posts: 130; Member since: 16 Feb 2013)


I appreciate your contribution to this comments board. Really informative, not to mention mature.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 16:53 3

21. mafiaprinc3 (Posts: 357; Member since: 07 May 2012)


let's look at face time,or what we call video calling. apple introduced this as revolutionary and unique to ios,the word face is unique to ios but the functionality which is video calling was on android before,that's stealing.

i do understand & agree when you say "Apple claiming that features are original when they aren't is the real issue"

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 16:57 7

24. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)


and video calling was on PCs before Android, and there were even video calling phones separate from PCs.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 17:13 5

38. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)


I agree with you Michael that nothing is truly original and everyone copies everyone I just dislike apples hypocrisy, they love to call out when they think someone's cooled them but when they do the same its nothing.. But as I said I completely agree with you.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 17:20 7

44. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)


Oh yh forget to say that even though I agree with you it doesn't mean apple should'nt be called out for their obvious hypocrisy.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 19:27 11

80. someones4 (Posts: 619; Member since: 16 Sep 2012)


I concede the fact that nothing is original and that companies do borrow and build upon each other's feature.
But isn't Apple making it too obvious? As if they are taunting everyone else "Yeah, i copied Google's s*it. What are you guys gonna do about it?"

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 21:29 4

97. Whodaboss (Posts: 176; Member since: 18 Nov 2011)


Sounds like an apologist to me. Say and write whatever you need to state to make you sleep good at night. But this is total stealing and copying. There's no innovation here. Just plain theft.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 21:31 2

98. ncarlosmiguel (Posts: 206; Member since: 14 May 2013)


Apple made a great product no doubt. But they shouldn't shamelessly call it "innovation" then act as if no other product does or have it.

posted on 11 Jun 2013, 03:26 4

127. amozhi (Posts: 108; Member since: 23 Oct 2012)


I don't understand why apple sued Samsung / Android for rubber banding effect ?!*%

posted on 11 Jun 2013, 06:50 2

131. ihatesmartphone (unregistered)


iPhonearena
lolol

posted on 11 Jun 2013, 12:09

140. techaman (unregistered)


i loved my web os palm it was just slow and had no marketing and dev's behind it. the swipe up and other things where amazing.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 16:31 23

8. Whateverman (Posts: 3233; Member since: 17 May 2009)


Yes, it's funny how the company that sues for round corners just "borrowed" their entire OS from the companies it likes to sue. OEMs should be firing up their legal departments right about now.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 18:21 8

67. amiaq (Posts: 499; Member since: 30 Jun 2012)


just DIE you arrogant Apple!! you deserve to go down in painful slow death.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 18:38 1

70. darkkjedii (Posts: 12621; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


Gee wiz dude. Get a grip

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 22:57

115. pixelado (Posts: 130; Member since: 16 Feb 2013)


Ha, look who's talking.

posted on 11 Jun 2013, 10:54

136. LumiaLover (Posts: 160; Member since: 27 Sep 2012)


go amiaq go...de-pip that Apple!!

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 16:50 3

19. mafiaprinc3 (Posts: 357; Member since: 07 May 2012)


and then call it innovation, innovation is bringing something new to the table! apple did that with the first iphone,after that they began borrowing or in plain terms "Stealing",apple still makes good products but they need to innovate!!!

posted on 11 Jun 2013, 06:56 1

132. rcl4444 (Posts: 38; Member since: 06 Oct 2012)


It's been well argued and shown that Apple didn't really even innovate even with the first iPhone. Sure, they took a lot that already existed and many features found in different platforms (mobile and PC), prettied them up, wrapped them all together in a easy to use touch interface and brought it to the masses in an easily palatable & desirable form.

So it can be called a from of innovation...or maybe opportunism. Still, they deserve credit for changing the face of mobility forever. LG, Samsung, Nokia and Windows may all have playing with touch phones before iPhone, but they were getting little traction. iPhone changed that - copy or not.

Like many here I hate Apple's hypocrisy around claims of innovation and originality...and MichaelHeller by saying it's OK to copy by extension you invited the discussion of Apple's lawsuits.
However can't say I recall Apple using the word innovation at all in the keynote in reference to any of these changes...or when they implied it they always qualified that it was a first for iPhone, not a first for all phones.

And for the record, I'm not an Apple fan nor ever owned an Apple product - just calling it as I see it.

posted on 11 Jun 2013, 12:18

142. techaman (unregistered)


CANT WAIT TO HEAR WHAT THE SAY ABOUT THE IWATCH THAT EVERYONE IS ALSO MAKING AND SOME HAVE ALREADY PUT OUT. i see many of these in japan stores tv watch phone watch app watch and others.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 17:44 20

49. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 3042; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)


"adopting the best of the competition, and that's okay."

Reaaaalllly? So why is Apple so far up Samsung's butt with lawsuits?

People can say Samsung stole ideas from Apple but when Apple steals from others, it's "borrowing" and okay to do?

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 17:51 3

53. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Not talking about lawsuits. Just talking about iOS 7.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 18:00 13

58. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 3042; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)


But how can you talk about anything Apple related and not talk about lawsuits? They sue everyone who is competition with claims of stealing or as you say, borrowing. Yet it's okay for them to steal...er...borrow?

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 18:40

71. darkkjedii (Posts: 12621; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


Re read #53 and #15 sheezzzz

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 18:50 4

75. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 3042; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)


I did but that doesn't change the fact that Apple is being hypocrites here and I certainly will not praise them for doing what others have done and go sue the crap out of the same companies that they stole from.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 23:19 4

118. forzanetti (Posts: 9; Member since: 19 Nov 2011)


Michael, I think it's kinda hard for people just to "forgive" Apple's hypocrisy when talking about iOS. I myself am a diehard Android fans. Looking at iOS7, I have to admit that it looks stunning. But one of the first things to come to my mind is the word "lawsuit". For the past 2 years, we've seen and read tons of news and articles regarding Apple's lawsuit, so I can't help it that it came to my mind the moment I saw that quicksetting toggles and multitasking.

What bugs me the most is that Apple is suing Samsung over something as trivial as bounceback feature (which is actually just an effect, with no functionality at all), and now here they are presenting quicksetting toggles proudly.

You can say that iOS7 is beautiful, most people will agree with that. But please don't say that it's okay for Apple to copy from other OS. It's okay for Symbian, WeOS, Android, WP, or BB10 to copy from each other because they are not suing each other. Apple started the patent war, which makes it NOT okay for them to copy from other OS.

posted on 11 Jun 2013, 05:22 4

130. noim1 (Posts: 297; Member since: 15 May 2012)


Man you just took the words right out of my mouth .....Couldn't have expressed it better .....

Apple started this Lawsuit War & they should not have copied frm others...This is what makes People of other OS MAD !!

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 18:06

62. ihatesmartphone (unregistered)


I really hope that Apple will not suing other company due to these changes...:)

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 16:20 5

3. itreday (Posts: 68; Member since: 24 May 2012)


Can't wait! I Finally have no reason to jailbreak :)

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 18:41

72. darkkjedii (Posts: 12621; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


Man I'm all over this bro. Ios7 is tite

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 23:00 1

117. pixelado (Posts: 130; Member since: 16 Feb 2013)


Glad to see you happy, but... what if it stays the same for another 5 years?

Just saying, it might get old quite fast.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 16:21 1

4. paulyyd (Posts: 327; Member since: 08 Jan 2011)


Lol you bros sound mad

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 16:22 12

5. MartianMe (unregistered)


"And, everyone who is shouting on one side or the other about "copying" or whatever, just stop the argument right now. The argument is one of the silliest possible. As we've talked about time and time again, everything in life is built upon what came before it. If you look hard enough, nothing is original, and everything has been inspired by something else."" Michael H stop kissing as* to apple ..and while you're doing that...why not give the same advise to apple...since they think the world started with them..IDIOT!!

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 16:40 7

12. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)


OK, so I'm sure you came out and commented on our Google I/O article complaining about how Google didn't give credit to Xbox live when announcing Google Play Games Services, right?

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 16:56 12

23. willard12 (Posts: 886; Member since: 04 Jul 2012)


Is Google suing Microsoft over Xbox live continuously? If not, false equivalence.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 16:59 6

26. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Who was talking about lawsuits? This article has nothing to do with lawsuits, it's about features and the announcement of those features. No one has been sued over anything here yet. If that happens, bring up that argument then. Until then, it has no bearing on the conversation.

(See comment #15 for the original version of this same comment)

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 17:14 5

40. willard12 (Posts: 886; Member since: 04 Jul 2012)


Well, I guess we can choose to ignore the obvious. So as for iOS 7, Tim Cook once said that Apple can't be the innovators for the world. According to the article, he has achieved his goal and left that to task to MS, Pandora, and Google.

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 17:48 2

52. zekes (Posts: 213; Member since: 14 Aug 2012)


its sad u hate apple

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 17:14 6

41. Whateverman (Posts: 3233; Member since: 17 May 2009)


Michael, PLEASE call a meeting to bring back thumbs down!!! I know there were far too many who abused it, but there are some who truely deserve one right about now.

I think a good way of controlling the trolls would be if we're allowed 5 or 10 thumbs down per day ONLY. Set up like how we're only allow to follow so many article as one time, but let the thumbs reset at midnight. I like that PA took action, but we can't let the trolls win!

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 18:07

63. ihatesmartphone (unregistered)


You just wait and see...XD

posted on 10 Jun 2013, 21:09 4

92. Googler (Posts: 813; Member since: 10 Jun 2013)


It has every bearing on the conversation because Apple has sued over this exact same thing. While I totally agree about growth being good, when one company goes thermonuclear on another over this exact same thing, it CANNOT be ignored. Please acknowledge the gorilla in the room for once.

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