Meet a new iOS 7 and iPhone user: My wife

Summary:My wife of 18 years, Rachel, just got a new iPhone. Here's what she thinks of Apple's latest mobile operating system.

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Rachel Perlow, a first-time iOS and iPhone user.

A few weeks ago, my beautiful wife of 18 years, Rachel, told me her smartphone, a Verizon Galaxy Nexus, was starting to experience hardware problems. Long past its warranty coverage, having undergone multiple Asurion replacements and now completely out of contract, it was time for her to get a new phone.

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My own personal Verizon phone at the time was an iPhone 5, barely a year old. It was in mint condition.

I wasn't thinking originally of upgrading to a new device myself, but as Rachel needed a new phone, and I didn't need another Windows Phone 8 device (as I use a Nokia Lumia 920 for work on AT&T), I decided to hand my iPhone 5 over to Rachel before leaving on a business trip with the intention of switching over to a 5s when I returned a week later.

Rachel, being the wonderful wife she is, got up at the crack of dawn and stood in line for me at Verizon last week when I was on a plane heading back from Seattle and got me a new iPhone 5s.

My wife has never been an iOS or an iPhone user — she's only used my iPad or iPhone for minutes at a time when I needed to show her something on an app.

As tech bloggers, many of us tend to see things through a somewhat skewed lens and not through the eyes of regular end users, so I thought it might be interesting to ask her what she thought of Apple's new mobile operating system and the iPhone platform in general. Here are her answers.

Rachel, you've been previously been using Android phones for the last four years or so. The last phone you had was a Samsung Galaxy Nexus. What are your initial impressions of the iPhone 5 hardware? Do you notice significant performance improvements? Do you like the iPhone 5 camera?

I didn't use iOS 6 at all. As soon as I woke it up from charging it the first time, it wanted to update. So really I've only ever used iOS 7.

My initial impression was that I didn't care for the hardware. Keep in mind that I've only ever used this and my previous phones in a protective case. Therefore, I can't really appreciate the aesthetic appeal that the iPhone is famous for.

As most of you know, I have a reputation for destroying hardware. Even when it is encased in products reputed to completely protect the device, somehow I manage to hit the sweet spot to show the case developers where they need to make improvements.

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I must say in my own defense that in the most famous example of this, I was told to "throw" the device on the patio. It was the one time it wasn't an accident. I will admit to many accidents before and since.

I haven't used the camera much yet. From what I've seen, it does look easy to switch between still, video, and panoramic modes, and I do use all three. I appreciate that you can go straight to camera mode without unlocking the phone.

What is it like moving from a larger screen on the Galaxy Nexus to a smaller screen on the iPhone 5? Do you appreciate the Retina display of the iPhone 5?

I don't know what Retina display means. I do notice the iPhone is smaller and I liked the larger Galaxy Nexus screen. It is most noticeable when it comes to watching videos.

What do you think of the iOS 7 user interface? What do you like most about it? What do you like least about it? What features would you like added to a future version of the operating system? What do you think Apple should have done different or better?

I was surprised that the iPhone is not as intuitive as I was led to believe. From everything I've heard, and the real and parody news stories, I thought everything would be so obvious.

But you keep having to show me things like double clicking the button to bring up the open applications switch area, or holding it down to ask Siri a question. How was I supposed to know to do all that?

When I did learn how to ask Siri a question, the first thing I did was ask, "How do I use the iPhone 5?" Her answer was a link to Apple.com. Not a direct link to how to use it or an FAQ, but just to the home page of the website. I found this very unhelpful.

I feel like knowing how to use the iPhone is akin to being in the know about In and Out Burger's "secret menu" — what's the 3x3 Animal Style for the iPhone?

iPhone doesn't come with instructions or even a Startup Guide. I would read it if it were available. Yes, there's a learning curve. But if I didn't have someone in the house who already had been using an iPhone, how would I ever figure out about Siri or task switching?

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You just reminded me of my biggest complaint so far: Where is Swype? I got used to using a predictive text keyboard, I still use it on my Android tablet. It is very hard to get used to keying in stuff without it again. I really, really, really miss it. I looked in the App Store, it doesn't exist. The applications that say they are like Swype all have reviews that say it doesn't really work like Swype.

I miss Swype. :(

I also miss the widgets that I used on Android. For example, I used a small dashboard to turn Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and location settings on and off. Mostly when I got in or out of the car. It takes many more steps to do so with the iPhone.

The Control Center rarely opens on the first swipe up. This may be because my iPhone is encased in a Lunatik case, but it just doesn't want to open. Why can't it be as easy to open as the swipe down for notifications? Come to think of it, why isn't a Settings shortcut there, too?

How would you rate the quality of the applications on iOS versus Android? What applications do you mostly use on your phone? Are the iOS equivalents better or worse, or about the same as the Android ones?

The applications I use are mostly social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Meetup; banking apps for the two banks we use; Google apps such as Gmail, Google Voice, and Maps; and games, well, just Candy Crush!

I've noticed a few differences in the various apps. They seem a step or two better than the Android versions of the apps. Not radically different, but a just ahead of the curve, like the developers must be producing and releasing the updates for the iPhone versions of the apps before the Android versions.

I'm sure most of the improvements I've noticed will eventually be on the Android versions, they're just on the Apple version first.

Are you also new to the iPhone and also iOS 7? Talk back and let me know.

Topics: iPhone, Android, iOS, Mobility, Smartphones

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet is a technologist with over two decades of experience with integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer... Full Bio

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