Some people think Apple's forthcoming iPhone and iPad operating system iOS 7 is awesome. Others think it's awful. I think it's a derivative copycat not only of Android but of almost every other major mobile operating system out there.
Let's start with the iOS 7 front-end. To me, it looks like they took Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 (WP8) — don't ask me why Apple used that for inspiration — to produce a flat display with large fonts. Oh wait, didn't I see something like this before in Microsoft's Zune interface? Why, yes, yes I did. Oh well, at least Apple didn't include WP8's annoying tiles.
Or, is iOS 7's interface more like the new BlackBerry Z10's display with its two-dimensional, pasted-on-the-wallpaper icons? In both cases, copying is not the sincerest form of flattery. It's hitting fired iconic iOS designer Scott Forstall's once lovely design with an ugly stick.
Looking more closely, I can see Apple using a copying machine on Android for the iOS lock screen with its large digital clock, the date, and a slide-to-unlock region at the bottom a la Android. The iOS 7 lock screen also now has better handling of notifications.
Now, where have I seen that before? Oh, right: Android.
There are other Android copy-and-paste examples throughout iOS 7's interface: the calendar's color scheme, Safari's look-alike Chrome style Web page panels, and the marked resemblance between iTunes Radio and Google Music. Then, there is iOS 7's use of cards to present information.
Wait. While Google is implementing a card metaphor to share information from Android to Google+, that user-experience idea goes to the late, lamented WebOS.
I'm also amused to see that at long, long last Apple has added swiping gestures for deleting or archiving e-mail to its built-in e-mail client. Of course, Google just stumbled by switching the message swipe default in the Gmail Android client to archive, but that's easy to fix.
Looking behind the interfaces, we find Apple playing catch-up in such fundamental technologies as auto-application updates and multitasking. At long last, iOS will be aware that the apps you use most often are the ones that should get more of the processor love. That's nice, but that's so last year's Android and Windows Phone. Adding insult to injury, iOS 7 won't even be showing up until some time this fall.
Make no mistake about it, Apple iOS is now officially in catch-up mode both technically and in the marketplace. Apple people love their iPhones, but Android phones out-sell them four to one.
I wish Apple had spent more time fixing the bugs hiding in iOS rather than radically reworking its front-end for no good purpose. I mean, the last time I checked, iOS 6 still has Wi-Fi and battery problems. There's nothing exciting about repair work, it just makes a better product for users.
Still, as my writing colleague Wayne Rash put it, "I was really disappointed in the iOS 7 announcement. I was really hoping that we’d see something that’s new, not just new to Apple." That would have been nice, wouldn't it?