Many people, especially long-time users of the OS sequence that spawned iOS (MacOS and NeXTStep), have some strong opinions of iOS 7. Some of those simply voice their thoughts on the aesthetic aspects of the new UI (that is, do they think it looks good—in their opinion, which they often don’t include). Few people have separated their comments on usability explicitly from those on aesthetics.
They are two different things, though. One is purely a matter of taste, while another, though potentially still subjective, can be measured (in properly crafted usability studies). Even when not measured, the subjective usability comments often weigh more heavily than those simply relating to aesthetics.
I upgraded to iOS 7 recently, on my phone (but not yet on my iPad: more on that in a bit). Having been affected previously by bugs in a new iOS release that were fixed quickly, I decided to wait until one or two maintenance releases (bug fix releases, sometimes called “dot-dot” releases) had been published. It turns out I was right to wait: there was a significant security hole in the lock screen (I don’t have an iPhone 5S, so didn’t worry about fingerprint recognition bugs, other than academically).
Caveat: I am not a UI designer, nor a UI expert. I don’t pretend, much less purport, to be.
I think the default iOS 7 UI is far less usable than iOS 6.
Why? It’s much harder to read. There are fewer visual cues for the controls. There are some new inconsistencies in the UI.
Regarding the readability, it appears the new system typeface is Helvetica Neue Ultra Light. I find it very, very difficult to read, certainly on the iPhone (5)’s screen, made even worse by the lack of contrast between the text and the background in, for example, the the Settings app. There’s a solution available, in the Accessibility settings: enable Bold Text. This adds weight to the typeface, and, I think, makes it much easier to read and to use.
There are three more helpful Accessibility settings available, but neither makes as big a difference as bold text: Increase Contrast, Larger Type, Reduce Motion, and On/Off Labels
- Increase Contrast improves the contrast with some backgrounds. Might help a little.
- Larger Type instructs apps that support “Dynamic Type” to adjust the text size per settings in a slider. Not all apps support Dynamic Type.
- Reduce Motion decreases motion in the UI, including the parallax effect on some screens (e.g., the home screen, with icons).
- On/Off Labels adds a 0 or a 1 to slider switches, in addition to the white (off) and green (on) colors.
With bold text, I am no longer consider downgrading to iOS 6.
I have my sense of aesthetics, you have yours, your friends have theirs. Arguing over aesthetics—not understanding, but whether, based on understanding, you like something or not—is something I don’t find fruitful. Some people think Wicked is the absolutely best musical play ever produced, others feel nothing since The Sound of Music has been worth seeing; some people strongly prefer a Bordeaux-style claret’s flavor and aroma to that of a Burgundy-style red wine, while others don’t like red wine at all and only drink white; some think the Porsche 911′s styling is the best thing ever seen on a car, others think it looks bulbous and unpleasant; etc., etc. I accept your sense of aesthetics, and I have mine.
I don’t like the changes to the iOS 7 UI, relative to previous versions. I find it thin, lacking depth, unsubtle.
Perhaps this comes from my experience in 1988 at NeXT. We were prototyping our software on Sun workstations while the hardware was being finished: the development efforts were running in parallel. When I arrived at NeXT, we had no where near enough NeXT computers to provide to the software development team: the hardware engineers and operating system developers had all the early computers. Then, we got the window system up on our hardware, and it was almost as if I had stepped out of the Kansas house into Oz.
The Sun workstation, like essentially all computers generally available at the time, had a black-and-white graphics system: one bit per pixel, black or white. The NeXT computer had two bits per pixel: black, dark gray, light gray, and white. That one extra bit and those two extra shades between black and white made a very big difference, allowing for shading and shadows (without dithering, which eventually looks lousy). This provided a deeper, richer, more appealing interface, far less stark.
iOS 7 loses all the subtlety I like in NeXT and post-NeXT Apple user interfaces. I find them visually appealing.
My opinion; you’re welcome to yours!