In spite of its flaws, iOS 7 is very cool

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 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


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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  • Can't see it and I am looking

    Have the 5S (work phone ;) ) and I use a HTC One. Came from the Optimus and i5. Been using both Android and iOS for a few years now.
    That said .....
    I like the technology in iOS7 for the most part. That is the crux of the problem.
    Visually and functionally it is half done (the colors or lack of are garish at best) and has the worst quality control of any release I have used to date. It's not the big things though are a few. It is the small stuff; a gap filled with white that should be colored, badges in the wrong place, overlapping objects, color schemes that are all wrong (red on yellow?), controls that are nested in WTH? locations and the ...
    Sigh. There is just too much. I feel like I have been gifted one of the non-fun pieces of Alice's Wonderland and it hasn't been fun. I am looking forward to a jailbreak for this just so I can theme it.
    It coulda. It shoulda. It didn't.
    • Grammar

      Sorry for the grammar. iOS7 has gifted my ipad4 with intermittent keyboard lag and I'm getting tired of trying to fix things. Feels a bit like Android 3.0.
    • Give us options.

      i personally prefer skeuomorphism, and if Apple is reading this now: please can you at least give users an option to choose whether they want their OS to have the new "flat" theme or the old "skeuomorphism" theme look? Then there will be a lot less complain. Sometime listening and kowtowing to your users is not a bad thing. hint: I'm yet to upgrade my phone from Nokia 5800, and still wondering whether to go Android or Apple.
  • Re: iOS7....

    iOS6 was struggling up against the ever popular Android. That much was clear by comparing my Samsung Galaxy tablet and iPad Mini running both at the same time and opening the same apps. and iOS6 was slower to respond.

    However for me its more than just about the software. The Hardware and build quality play a major role. Something that Apple excel on with all their products from the iPhone to the iMac and they are built to last. Many Android smartphones and tablets lack this.

    Now we have the perfect mix with iOS7 which is an outstanding upgrade and it is now Android which needs to catch up.

    In upgrading to iOS7 my iPhone 5 and iPad Mini have both been transformed.
  • In the Corporate World, we used something called "Lotus Notes"

    for file sharing or just sending to another person. I was always amazed how well Lotus Notes handled that file passing task to another person. The nice thing about it was those files were always available to the sender (or receiver) of those files whenever one wished to search for them in Lotus Notes. (I was so amazed that this app was able to efficiently store those files on Corporate servers.)

    Well, enough of the past. Back to the Future we must go.
  • AirDrop is Mac/iOS only, though.

    AirDrop is Mac/iOS only, though. As somebody who's cross-platform, I'd rather use something like Dropbox.
  • Android Is A Proper Computer OS

    Look in the Play Store, and you will find apps for doing secure file transfers and file serving using common Internet protocols like SFTP (part of SSH) and SAMBA. Your Android device can be both client and server, just like any normal computer, so file transfers can be initiated from either end.

    Maybe it doesn't sound so sexy because it doesn't have some proprietary trademarked name like "AirDrop". But then, it Just Works™.
    • Re: Android Is A Proper Computer OS....

      How are you qualified to make this statement. Have you ever worked with iOS7. Its unlikely.

      Furthermore you are incorrect both Android and iOS are mobile operating systems and not a Computer Operating system as in OS X or Windows.
      • Re: How are you qualified to make this statement

        The fact that I have worked with Android for a couple of years now qualifies me to make statements about it.

        Did you interpret what I said as a statement about some other OS?
        • Re: The fact that I have worked with Android....

          So it is correct you have NOT worked with iOS whereas I HAVE worked with BOTH.
    • yes and no

      Android is not more proper OS, than iOS is. Both are.
      You can load stuff like SAMBA, SFTP, SSH etc on iOS, many do. But.. Thing is that software is originally designed for server kind deployment, when you are always on, have stable connectivity etc. it does not work optimally in a mobile environment.

      AirDrop on the other hand does. New environments need new software. By the way, this is why back in time, windows became so popular - it used the specifics, the quirks if you will, of the commodity hardware of the time. For example, that day unix required at least CPU with proper support for mmu etc.

      Don't be such a fanboy :)
      • Re: You can load stuff like SAMBA, SFTP, SSH etc on iOS, many do

        But the point of all those tools is having access to a proper filesystem, which IOS doesn't allow, but Android does.
  • Problem about AirDrop

    Is that it only works with Apple Products, and the only apple product I have is the phone. So it's difficult to use airdrop with people who don't have apple items
    • Problem about Airdrop

      is that Apple took a standard and modified it to work only on Apple devices.

      If you get an Xbox One your iPhone can't talk to it.
      If you have a Wifi Direct printer, your iPhone won't print to it.

      However, for no doubt a small additional licence fee, your hardware supplier will add Airdrop support to a device.

      We have surely past the point where, when a company takes a standard and regressively modifies it for its own end, that it should longer be cool, clever nor acceptable!

      Enhancing a standard is acceptable but there should be a duty to offer these enhancements back to the standards body for acceptance or refusal.

      Since Apple are one of the sponsors of the Wifi Alliance which maintains the Wifi Direct standard, makes this worse.
  • throwing apps out to close

    Once upon a time, don't remember when, but might be in the MacOS 8 or 7 days, a little utility appeared - an animated trash box. It was showing an animal chewing your stuff as you put it in there.

    A friend of mine one day called to cry for help. Her kids found out the funny "game" and put all they could find in the desktop in there. :)

    Their response was "but mom, it ate them in a cute way!"
    • Throwing apps out to close them

      Android handles this differently. You don't have to close anything, it's all managed in the background. Don't know why Apple can't achieve this.
      Or am I missing something?
  • Give us options.

    i personally prefer skeuomorphism, and if Apple is reading this now: please can you at least give users an option to choose whether they want their OS to have the new "flat" theme or the old "skeuomorphism" theme look? Then there will be a lot less complain. Sometime listening and kowtowing to your users is not a bad thing. hint: I'm yet to upgrade my phone from Nokia 5800, and still wondering whether to go Android or Apple.
  • Apple developers are visionaries of hope

    Apple iPhone is operating now on function and disgarded visual pizzazz. They knew slowly but surely Windows Metro UI is the future. However, Apple started something that they should've finished because they are finished now with this copycat cheap/expensive imitation of Windows Metro UI. Apple has actually downgraded graphics, form and function of which helped make them famous! Android basically copied iPhone with their sliding left to right apps 4 in a row and added pizzazz and is slowly killing them. Now Apple has copied Windows Metro UI to escape the losing battle with Android. If you'd pay attention Apple began this new direction with the last major update. Americans are creatures of habit and are afraid of change. WM is bold, with up and down active tiles and flat UI is superior because it is drastically different from the leaders. It was the only way for Windows Mobile to win. All that is necessary now for WM 8 to do on their next major update is to come in for the kill and pull in the disgruntled iPhoners and soon they will see what I already new for a couple of years is that Windows Mobile is a better UI just on the uniqueness alone.

    I've been carrying both an iPhone (work) and a Windows Mobile 7 then 8 for almost 3 years now. So not many people have the experience that I have. I reach for my Lumia without thinking when I need internet info or just to make a call. iPhone's are sluggish and dead unless you wake them up. Windows active tiles are always alive and ready and constantly relaying information to you from many different apps and sources simultaneously without draining the battery in an unreasonable way. Since, iPhone is trying to force you into a drastic change, then get yourself a Lumia, any model and get REAL CHANGE. P.S. Why do you think Microsoft bought Nokia? Strange timing? nope!!
    Keith Blackwell
  • In spite of its flaws, iOS 7 is very cool...NOT!

    Really the iOS7 is nothing more than a BETA. It cannot be a complete product because it just doesn't work as advertised. Apple has now done to consumers what Microsoft has done for years with its OS...ME, Vista and Now Windows 8. We are all nothing more than BETA testers to the final product.
  • Yet another crazy posting....

    Diss on the Raspberry Pi but praise for Mac? I bet someone is getting some kickbacks! You wish you were a computer guru. I know your kind, school old farts like you all the time. Even with legacy type issues.