- What are the differences between the new iPhones?
- How good is iOS7?
- Are there tips for using iOS7?
The world of Apple has gone abuzz as a result of the newest iterations of its operating systems. In September, Apple released iOS 7 for its mobile devices (along with new hardware in the form of the iPhone 5s and 5c). By the time you read this, Apple will likely have released Mavericks (the newest iteration of its OS X (10.9) for its computers (Apple apparently decided it had enough of the big cats; for the near future, its newer operating systems will wash over us like the surf for which Apple named them). I have not had the opportunity to see Mavericks in action yet. I have, however had several weeks to work with the iOS7 on the iPad, iPad Mini, iPod Touch, the iPhone 5, and the new iPhone 5s.
In this column, I will endeavor to update you on the performance of iOS7 (and the iPhone 5s) and to give you a bit of preparation regarding what to expect when Mavericks comes crashing into shore.
I don’t intend to spend a lot of time on the new iPhones, as I want to focus this column more on the operating systems. Suffice it to say that Apple offered two new models of iPhone, the 5s and the 5c. The 5c represents an effort by Apple to offer a more affordable phone. To do that, it stripped out some features and used the same A6 processor as it employed in the iPhone 5. Apple also developed a new plastic case for the 5c. In fact, if you described the 5c as the iPhone 5 in a plastic case, you would not be far off the mark. Apple did offer a veritable rainbow selection of colors for the iPhone 5c, not just the traditional black and white. It also offered the ability to make it more colorful with an added color case. The 5c comes with 16GB and 32GB memory options. It retains the traditional absence of a memory slot for additional memory, and the sealed unit continues to prevent swapping out batteries when one runs down. Apple did not skimp on the display for the 5c. The 5c comes with the same size retina display as the 5s.
iPhone 5c. All images courtesy of Apple.
The 5s got a newer, faster, more powerful A7 processor. It keeps the metal case, only it too no longer comes in black or white. The 5s comes in gold, silver, and space gray. Apple continues to offer the 5s in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions. It also comes with a fingerprint identity sensor built into the Home button.
The iPhone 5s has performed flawlessly for me, and I have nothing bad to say about it. Preliminary orders for the 5s have favored the gold color, making it a bit harder to get than the other colors, resulting in a delay in delivery not experienced with the other colors. Because the color of the iPhone 5s will not be visible if you put a case around the 5s (including the cases Apple designed for the 5s), I am not sure it makes much difference what color you get. If you plan to not keep it in a case (not a good idea in my opinion), you will get to see your chosen color when you use the phone.
Both the 5s and the 5c come with iOS 7 installed. You can install iOS 7 on recent versions of the iPhone, the iPod Touch, the iPad, and the iPad Mini. You do not always get all the features in the older hardware. The following summary respecting compatible hardware and limitations will give you some perspective.
5s, 5c, and 5 offer full compatibility, subject to hardware limitations. The iPhone 4s will work with iOS 7, but you do not get support for AirDrop or filters in the Camera App. It will also work with the iPhone 5 except for AirDrop, camera filters, panoramic photos, and Siri.
The fourth-generation iPad offers all features subject to hardware limitations. The third generation is compatible except for AirDrop, panoramic photos, and filters in the Camera App. The iPad 2 works but for all the issues in the third-generation iPad, filters in the Photo App, square photos and videos, and Siri.
All features are available, subject to hardware limitations.
All features are available on the fifth generation Touch, subject to hardware limitations.
Hardware not listed does not work with iOS 7. The only hardware currently available that lets the fingerprint technology sign you into the device and/or the iTunes store is the 5s as all other devices lack a fingerprint sensor. Expect to see such sensors in new iterations of the iPad and iPad Mini, possibly also in the iPod Touch.
The new iOS has met with a mixed reaction. I have talked to those who love it and those who dislike it so much that want to go back to iOS 6, which, as a practical matter, is not possible. My own reaction is somewhat mixed. I like most of the changes in iOS 7, but not all of them. I especially like the new Control Center, AirDrop for iOS, and multitasking enhancements. I also like the new upgrades to the photography capabilities and appreciate the quicker response of the faster processor. Apple released a new iteration of iTunes with iOS 7 and also a new feature: iTunes Radio, which offers some preset stations, but gives you the ability to design a station or stations reflecting your personal musical preferences
One of my favorite features on the 5s with iOS 7 is the introduction of biometrics through the fingerprint sensor. I like the additional security it offers and the fact that it lets me use my fingerprint to sign into the device as well as the iTunes Store. The only downside I have found is that the more I use it, the more frustrating I find it that my iPad and iPad Mini will not recognize my fingerprints to let me sign in or to access the iTunes Store.
I have also noticed that my battery charges seem to last a bit longer on the 5s than they did on the 5 (even when running iOS 6 on the 5). In creating iOS 7, Apple completely revised the interface. The stated goal was to simplify it. Indeed, it appears simpler and more usable in most cases. On the other side of that coin, I have noticed a diminution of battery charge life on the iPhone 5 and the iPad/Mini after installing iOS 7. Others have reported the same experience.
Many of the complaints I have heard (and have) about the new system relate to the new aesthetics. The color schemes used often lack sharp definition and contrast, making them more difficult to read. I have found workarounds for those issues, however, and having made those changes, find the modifications far more acceptable. The changes are actually simple to make, but not intuitively available. Most of us think of accessibility controls and features as something for those who have serious impairments. Whether or not that perception is or was accurate exceeds the scope of this column. I can only tell you that I have discovered that by using those controls, I can make changes that make things much better for me. I have shared those changes with others, who have reacted similarly, so I will also share them in this column.
Go to Settings/General/Accessibility. Turn on the switches for Increase Contrast, Bold Text, and Larger Type. Adjust the slider in Larger Type to a size that you find comfortable. Change the setting for Bold Text last, as it will require a restart of the device. I can tell you that those changes make a world of difference for me. If that proves insufficient for you, you can dramatically increase contrast by turning on the switch for Invert Colors; but I find that a bit extreme and prefer not to use it, although it will make a real difference in contrast that some visually impaired individuals may appreciate.
One of the more serious issues that some people have encountered is random restarts after installing iOS 7. In my case, I have only experienced it with my iPad Mini. I tried restoring the Mini, which results in a reinstallation of the iOS. That reduced the frequency of the problem occurring, but did not resolve it. Apple has tweaked iOS 7 twice since its release, correcting some of the identified issues. That problem has not yet been resolved, but I suspect Apple will identify the source of the problem and correct it in another update to the system.
Apple released Mavericks in late October 2013. Apple added a considerable amount of information about the features it has included in Mavericks to its website. I installed Mavericks on several computers and have had only a few minor problems with it, all of which now appear to have been resolved.
As has been Apple’s recent practice, it made the release available through the Apple App Store (not the iTunes App Store). You simply download it to your Mac and install it. Apple is not charging for the upgrade. The new system presents an updated interface that reflects the merging of the iOS and the Mac OS. The new appearance will carry over into concurrent updates to some of Apple’s applications, including Safari and Calendar. Apple has also made a Maps application (comparable to the one in the iOS and an iBooks application available.
Notifications also reflect some changes. The Notification Center syncs with the iOS and allows some communication directly through the Center without requiring opening other applications. You will also get a summary of notifications that have come up while the Mac’s lock screen was engaged.
Apple has made significant improvements to the Finder as well. Among the changes: when you have multiple Finder windows open, they can be merged into a single tabbed window (like Safari does). Mavericks also allows you to tag your files for easier sorting and location. You can assign one or several tags to the same file. When you tag a file, you can sort on the tag, having the computer bring up all the files with that tag for you.
Recognizing that more people have moved to multiple displays, Apple has enhanced support for multiple displays. In Mavericks you won’t have a primary and secondary display; you will simply have two displays. Each display gets its own menu bar, and the dock appears on whichever display you are using at the time.
To enhance security, convenience, and compatibility, Apple has included the iCloud Keychain in Mavericks. It stores passwords in the Cloud, allowing you to sync them across your devices and filling them in for you when required. You can also store credit card information in the Keychain for easy entry when shopping online. If you use this feature, it becomes even more imperative that you adopt strong passwords to access the authorized devices as once they are accessed, the iCloud Keychain can enable them to access your listed accounts.
Mavericks also incorporates some new battery-saving technology to help you get the most out of every charge. The concept is to reduce the power draw to support only the necessary operations. To accomplish that, open apps not currently in use will have reductions in the power they draw. The OS will merge multiple low-level operations to conduct them at the same time, rather than separately. This will allow the Mac to spend more time in its power-saving mode.