Apple’s overhaul of its mobile operating system, the most major re-design since the iPhone’s first release in 2007, was met with rather mixed reviews upon its Monday release.
The cleaner, simpler and more translucent look to the interface, flattened design and all new Control Centre pop-up menu, were lauded in reviews, but many others slammed the system for borrowing on innovations already developed by competitors like Android, such as live icons and wallpapers.
Additionally, the new facelift was criticised for being, well, "ugly" - an unusual criticism for a company long synonymous with beautifully designed hardware and software.
Jonathan Ive, Apple's senior vice-president of design, said iOS 7, which will be available as a free update this autumn, showed the firm's resolve in "bringing order to complexity" in its mobile operating system.
Among the improved features on iOS 7 will be Control Centre, Multitasking, AirDrop, Siri and iTunes Radio and a free internet radio service. A new "activation-lock" system has also been added to curb theft and and the compass app was given a major revamp.
A beta for iOS 7 was released by the company shortly after the announcement, which tech bloggers across the world quickly pounced on to get their two cents in.
Tech blogger Henry Cooke on New Zealand-based news portal Stuff, called the iOS 7 beta “stupid ugly” featuring one of the worst icon designs from Apple ever. He also compared it with the much-criticised (and flopped) Windows Vista software when it first came out.
The Verge’s Joshua Topolsky found the overall design and iconography “simply confusing” and inconsistent. He suggested that Apple could be “buckling a bit under the weight of an end-to-end redesign”.
But not all hope was lost for Apple’s daring new facelift. CNET praised the new look for staying true to the company’s “sharp, clean, almost cutting aesthetic” although it continued to borrow – as all mobile makers do – from rivals in “drips and drabs”.
CNET editor Jessica Dolcourt later said the new iOS 7’s changes were more “cosmetic and iterative” than they were groundbreaking, but noted that the iOS 7 was “greater than the sum of its parts”.
Pete Pachal of Mashable said Apple’s new operating system was “gorgeous” and even though it was offering nothing too new, the company could still make that emotional difference to consumers choosing between an iPhone and Android.
“You don't differentiate through your product's feature set, its battery life or any other specs. The difference is emotional: Don't just do something for me, but make me happy while doing it,” the tech journalist said.
The bloggers, reviewers and tech experts had their take on the new update, but the real feedback for Apple came from consumers and iPhone users.
Here are some of SCMP.com’s picks on iOS 7-related tweets:
— Aman Gupta (@AmanChachu) June 12, 2013
— Lionelnz (@iamLionelT) June 12, 2013
Apple I knew you'd do it again! #iOS7 is so beautiful it's almost making me cry!
— Casey Lau (@hypercasey) June 10, 2013
— Hendrik Martens (@henniemartens) June 11, 2013
Translucency makes iTunes Radio considerably more difficult to read: apple.com/ios/ios7/featu…
— Craig Mod (@craigmod) June 10, 2013
— Ryan Anderson (@RyanAnde) June 11, 2013
— supercujo (@supercujo) June 11, 2013
Sorry, I have to say one last thing. This looks like a freshman design student, just learning Illustrator, made it. images.apple.com/ios/ios7/desig…
— Justin Edmund (@jedmund) June 10, 2013
...and the ambigous
Serious question: if not Apple, but a random dude on Dribbble made this, would you love it as much? images.apple.com/ios/ios7/desig…
— Doney den Ouden (@Dexwell_) June 10, 2013
— Barry Jarvis (@barryjarvis) June 3, 2013
— Ian (@selspiero) June 12, 2013
— Simon Givens (@WithIT72) June 12, 2013
Aesthetics aside, the most notable game-changer was Apple’s pledge to strengthen integration with China’s online services. The move is a sure sign the company is still looking to further expand its business in the giant of a mobile market - despite being called out for “unparalleled arrogance” by Chinese state media and threatened to be destroyed earlier this year.
The most significant announcement for China users was the newly-introduced support for Tencent Weibo, a newly-added Chinese-English bilingual dictionary, and improved Chinese-language input, including handwriting recognition for multiple Chinese characters. Sina Weibo, Baidu, Youku Tudou were added to the system last year.
On Sina Weibo, China’s most used microblogging platform, comments also ranged from extreme support to deep disappointment.
@ZhengHao: There a lot of bugs [in the demo version] and it's hard to get used to all the new interface icons. Some of the new features are useful. I can only say there is good and bad [aspects] and it will take a period of time to get accustomed [to it].
@PeterChoi: iPhone-users have been given a redesigned interface. Sadly, I don’t see much difference from the old system.
@CuteJun: Using iOS 7 was a poor experience - but I have to say the overall look is better, especially the flat and lively, simple yet human, interface. I like how the wallpaper will move along with the phone.
@XuYien: The new system gave me a sense of visual comfort - simple and fresh
@Adamzone: When I saw Apple’s release of the iOS 7, I was thinking “Apple plagiarism”. I actually thought it was a press conference for Windows 7 rather than iOS7.
@Yikooola: Ugly, heinous iOS 7. I will not update from my current [iOS] 6.1.3 if my life depended on it.