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iOS 7 – First Impressions

What one non-techie thinks of Apple’s new mobile OS

By Tracey Dowdy:

I am not a techie person. In fact, I’d like to ask the tech-geeks to take a couple of months off so I can figure out how to get the clock to stop flashing “12:00” on my VCR. Okay, maybe I’m not that far behind, but keeping up with constant software updates can feel a little overwhelming. Case in point: iOS 7.

I recently updated my iPhone 5 to iOS 7 and found features I love and others that left me less than impressed. The good news is, the nerds haven’t taken my advice and have already found ways to improve or work around the issues. Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly from a strictly non-nerd perspective.

The Good

One of my favorite features is the Control Center. Again, as a non-techie, accessibility to apps and features is important to me. Swipe up and a drop down menu appears with access to frequently used features like airplane mode, camera, music playback controls, screen brightness, Wi-Fi and a flashlight, all without having to exit the app you’re currently using. I love the flashlight. I know, there were flashlight apps and I’ve used them, but for me, building it in to the control center is a stroke of genius. Looking for a pen in my giant purse no longer feels like I’m heading into the Pit of Despair!

Siri has been tweaked and is even more useful than before. Have her open your latest email and read it to you; turn on Bluetooth; adjust the brightness of your screen; open apps; play iTunes Radio; or ask “What’s trending on Twitter?” Personally, one feature that stands out is the ability to train Siri to recognize unusual names. My daughter’s name is Ceilidh and to say Siri mangled the pronunciation (as you are in your head right now) is an understatement. Simply say “Pronounce Ceilidh” and follow the steps. Ta-dah!

The Bad

When I updated to iOS 7 my phone slowed down. Big time. There was a 5-10 second delay as I typed, which made texting or trying to compose an email maddening. But, nerds to the rescue, there’s a fix. Go to Settings>iCloud>Documents and Data and toggle to “off”. It’s not a feature I utilize, so this hack works for me, but hopefully Apple will correct the glitch in the next update for those that do.

The Ugly

One big security loophole in iOS 7 is the ability to bypass the lock screen to access any iOS apps that are installed on the phone, including the camera and any stored photos. Time explained the hack and in my opinion, unless the person trying to hack in is an evil genius one lab accident away from becoming a super villain, it’s not likely to happen. Except Time has now mapped out the steps for you… Anyway, to guard your phone, got to Settings>Control Center and disable Access on Lock Screen and you’re safe. At least until that lab accident.

A second possible breach of your security is the ability to make calls from a locked phone by messing with the Emergency Call feature. Again, most wouldn’t have thought to do this and if those clever enough to figure it out would work on a cure for cancer instead of how to break into phones, the world would be a better place. Apple doesn’t have a fix for this yet, but they assure us they’re working on it.

Overall, I’m happy with iOS 7. Other than the delay with my keyboard – again, easily fixed – I haven’t had any issues. But if you’re unhappy, you can always go back to iOS 6.1.3 (or 6.1.4 if you have an iPhone 5).
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a VCR to program.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology.

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