iOS 7 Beta 3 Improvements or Status Quo?

ios_7_icon-250x249Safari (Contextual Keyboard)

One of the things you’ll notice with keyboard that’s presented in an online or connected app like Safari and Mail is that the .com button has been removed and replaced with a simple period button. Pressing the period button inserts a period, but pressing and holding it does the same thing that the .com button did – provide access to com, .net,.org and .edu domain extensions.

 

Lock Screen

The iOS 7 lock screen is something that continues to need work, in my opinion. In previous betas, the lock screen would display album art for songs or other audio that was playing, but often the metadata that was displayed was incorrect. Most of those issues seem to be resolved in Beta 3, and it’s about time.

Another recent correction to the lock screen has been implemented in this latest release. Now, when playing music, the lock screen will now display the time. The lock screen should also display the current time when you’re on a phone call, but for some reason, in the first 3 betas for iOS 7, it doesn’t. it does display the running call length, but not the current time of day, which is a problem. Apple needs to resolve that in the next beta.

The new OS also doesn’t make good use of screen real estate on the lock screen and Notification Center. There’s a huge gutter on both right and left sides of the Notification Center that creates a great deal of height and a need to scroll through information there. Apple needs to get rid of the written weather forecast and use a graphical representation instead.

The test on the lock screen also doesn’t change size as it did in iOS 5 and 6. When a notification initially came in, it was displayed with larger text. After it was viewed and the device turned off (without unlocking the device), the size of the text shrunk to allow additional notifications to be listed on the screen. Apple needs to reinstate this as well if it plans on keeping a running list of notifications on the lock screen.

Apple also needs to bring back a sliding device on its lock screens. With earlier versions of the OS, when you slid to answer a call or slid to unlock, something on the screen physically moved with your finger as it slid across the screen. The fact that this is now inconsistent (the entire screen slides to the right when you unlock the device in iOS 7) is a problem.

ios-7-beta-3

Conclusion

While this is obviously not an exhaustive list of updates, these are the ones that I feel are the most notable; and the ones that most everyone looking at the beta will notice after they install it. The level of stability and finish has also changed here. Beta 3 is nearly an order of magnitude better than the first two seeds released by Apple, but iOS 7 still has a long way to go.

The structure of the OS seems fine, but its design elements need additional attention. Apple has greatly reduced the amount of “white frost” that were clearly seen everywhere. Beta 3 has a lot more color, depth and warmth. We’re likely to see this continue to improve as we go through the beta cycle.

I’d also like to see a great many beta releases. The more releases that Apple seeds to developers, the more 3rd party feedback they get, the better the OS will be in the long run. However, that just may be me. As a 20+ year, veteran, software QA manager, I am hopeful that Apple spends a lot of time testing before it releases anything to the public. I hate it when I HAVE to test software for a company that I’ve purchased it from.

Stay tuned, kids…there’s obviously a few more beta releases coming. I’ll have more to say before it’s all over…
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