iOS 7 first impressions: Anything but flat

It can’t have escaped many geeks’ notice that on Monday, Apple previewed the forthcoming new versions of their desktop interface, OSX 10.9, and their operating system for handhelds, iOS 7.

Everybody can view the presentations from Monday’s World Wide Developer Conference keynote, and the marketing information that has been released. As a registered app developer who will have to make sure their app is iOS 7-ready in time for the public launch in the autumn, though, I can get legal access to the first beta.

And while (as early betas can be) it is slow and crashes more often than it should – the changes in iOS 7 are only apparent when using it on an actual device. Watching a slick video doesn’t give you the full impression.

NB: There are swathes of non-disclosure agreements surrounding early access to iOS 7. This article is based purely on hands-on access to the features publicly disclosed by Apple, and experience of previous iOS upgrades.

Continue reading “iOS 7 first impressions: Anything but flat”

Why I hate iTunes 7

Okay, “hate” is too strong a word — that’s the sensationalist subeditor in me, I guess. But there was something bugging me about the latest update, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

I knew that it wasn’t the new, drab, grey look — it wouldn’t have been my choice, admittedly; also, it’s a shame that Apple, who impressed me when I became a Mac OSX convert with their User Interface Guidelines, do more than any other company to repeatedly flout them.

The new album view and the CoverFlow view are nice as far as they go, so it wasn’t that. I have to admit I don’t care for the restyled iTunes Music Store, and am infuriated that, in all the talk of Apple selling full-length movies to America, very few people have noticed that they’ve stopped selling even short films to us in the UK. But I only tend to use the store for a small amount of time iTunes is running, so I knew that couldn’t be what was irritating me so.

That’s when it hit me. It’s because my own library is now structured according to how Apple want to sell me stuff.

Movies and TV shows are what Apple is pushing in a big way — to American audiences, anyway. Now that short films have been lost to the ether, the only video content you can buy from the iTunes Store are music videos — and they get pushed into the generic ‘Music’ category. iTunes adds a ‘Music Videos’ smart playlist automatically, but why should it need to? It would be far better to mirror the way my iPod structures its library, with **Videos** having separate subcategories depending on the type of video content.

At least with video content that I have loaded in myself, I can change the **Video Kind** parameter of each film so that it appears in the appropriate category. However, any audiobooks that I’ve bought on CD and ripped to MP3 remain firmly stuck in “Music”. The Audiobooks category remains firmly the preserve of iTunes Store purchases, it seems — in other words, completely useless. Yes, I can switch both it and iPod Games off in iTunes’ preferences. But I’d much rather be able to add my own content to it.

It’s this twisted attitude — structuring iTunes according how they want to sell to us, rather than making it as easy to use as possible and _inspiring_ us to buy — that really pisses me off.

It’s ironic, really. The MiniStore was another way in which Apple tried to convert normal iTunes usage into a sales tool, but that’s been severely relegated in version 7. There’s no button to activate or deactivate it any more, and the shortcut key has disappeared; hopefully the whole feature will go the same way in version 8. But the philosophy behind it seems to be present still. And that, I really **do** hate.