In spite of its flaws, iOS 7 is very cool

Summary:Although there are a few problems with iOS 7, I'd say it's a success. I like it. I like that it has some Metro-esque qualities and a few Androidy things about it. But there's one feature that's my very favorite: AirDrop.

I've never been what you'd call an "early adopter" of technology, although you'd think I would be. I take a more conservative, wait-and-see approach to support and to new technology. I think that, in the past year or two, I've adopted more new tech than in the past 20 years put together. It's partially because of ZDNet and partially because I'm forced, in a good way, to keep up with the latest new "thang" because of my kids, some of my nerdy cohorts at work, and just because I'm tired of being so technologically conservative. It's a brave new world for me and I'm loving it.

Sure, years ago when I owned my own computer consulting firm, I was a beta tester for many products, including VMware, Solaris, KOffice, and others but I never exposed my clients to the new, achy-breaky, wibbly-wobbly stuff. I kept them stable, spoiled, and happy.

But now, I'm ready to embark on a new phase of my professional life: The daring, jumping out at 10,000 feet phase. Technologically speaking, of course. I'd never really jump out of anything that wasn't on fire or falling. If it were a falling thing, I'd try that step off at the last second thing like the Pink Panther does before his house hits the ground. Yeah, I know, I know, get back to the story.

For me, loading iOS 7 on the second day after it's generally available is what I deem, the leading edge. The only reason that I didn't install it on the first day is that I couldn't keep a good connection to the servers. I opted for day two, knowing the traffic would be much less and my chances of success far greater.

My favorite feature of iOS 7 is AirDrop. Now I know for some of you Mac-heads, AirDrop isn't so new, but for me, it is. If you've kept up with this column at all, you'll know that I've only recently taken the Mac plunge.

For those of you, like me, who weren't long time Mac persons, AirDrop is a way to share files between devices without first uploading to a central server or repository first. And thank goodness for smart Apple developers, you don't have to do that silly phone touching thing to share files. That's just weird and I don't like it. Touching phones. Really.

Actually AirDrop reminds me of the old Palm Pilots that could share contact information and calendar events by beaming them to each other. Yes, it was primitive but it worked.

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Years before that, I came up with a similar idea for Windows systems. I asked a programmer friend of mine if we could create a little "inbox" on each person's desktop and then identify each person by name on a central filing system so that if you wanted to drop a file into your secretary's In box, you could. Kind of like mail but not. It would really work more like those little tray box things that people used to keep on their desks. They were usually labeled IN, OUT, MISC, and the like.

I thought it was better than a shared drive. It was a handy queue and files could be prioritized and so on.

Of course, he was a brilliant programmer but unmotivated by fame or fortune. I dropped the idea. It's still a good idea, actually.

In fact, I'd like to toss out an offer to you or anyone you know who would like to take on such ventures. I want to find some motivated individuals who want to take on projects like that and we'll split the money 50:50. It seems I've always had friends who weren't motivated but loved to listen to me rant and rave about such ideas as the digital camera (1982) and a Monster.com idea (1989). Alas, I'm still a frustrated idea guy who chooses terrible friends. OK, they're not terrible but they're just not visionaries. They can't put the pixels together into a cohesive, intelligible picture.

Anyway, AirDrop is very cool and I like it. Unfortunately, the drawback to AirDrop is that you have to be in relatively close proximity to those with whom you're sharing files. Personally, I think that you should be able to share files with anyone who's on the same network as you, whether that's WiFi or a peer-to-peer setup.

I've learned a long time ago that no one, especially Apple, listens to me or my awesome ideas.

Perhaps I should have moved to a more technologically motivated area of the country. People in flyover country are more concerned about their trucks, guns, or girlfriends to worry about some long-term success.

AirDrop does ask your permission before allowing a file to be copied to your device, regardless of with whom you decide to share. Your AirDrop sharing options are: Everyone, Contacts Only, or Off. Default is Off. In fact, I can't even find the option on my wife's iPhone. I did find it on her iPad mini, so that we could test it.

But AirDrop isn't the only cool thing about iOS 7. It seems less power hungry than previous versions did. It also feels lighter, faster, and less obtrusive. I also like how you close apps in it, by swiping them away. I never liked that whole tap, hold, shake, kill thing. That was just awkward. Tossing them away is way more Mac-like.

I say Mac-like because in the old days of Mac OS 6, 7, 8, and 9, you threw away apps to close them. Of course you could also use that CMD-Q key sequence too but throwing them away was funny. I just laughed and laughed at that. Have you ever laughed like that?*

Yes, I've compared iOS 7 to Metro (the Windows 8 interface) and the icons look very similar. The behavior is similar. Maybe it's as one reader suggested: It's a modern UI. Maybe there is an evolution of kind going on here where interfaces and operating systems are all starting to kind of look alike to me.

Heck, I've even learned to use Unity without throwing something across the room, so maybe it's just me who sees similarities and problems with some of the new UI evolutionary changes. And like the Theory of Biological Evolution, the fittest will survive.

I think that you have to embrace the new. Hey, I'm having an epiphany here, don't cheapen it. I think that you have to explore strange new worlds, seek out new technology, and at least attempt to boldly go where no one has gone before. We'll all be better for it. Progress isn't made by standing still; it's made by moving—regardless of direction.

I like iOS 7, in spite of its flaws. And I think that's the way you have to look at technology. There's no perfect device, no perfect operating system (I can hear the religious zealots locking and loading), and there's no perfect solution to our problems. We have to happily accept what we're given but envision a future where it's even better. Don't worry, you won't have to wait long for iOS 8 or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough or Gotham. Someone's already working on it.

*Airplane! reference. One of my favorite movies. Sorry, had a nerd moment there.

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Topics: Apple, Android, Apps, Operating Systems

About

Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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