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iOS 7 Meets Real Users Ahead of the iPhone 5S Launch

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Apple seemingly managed to find some more servers for the launch of iOS 7, with slightly less struggle to download and install the new system than previous versions. However, updates are still the order of the day as those enthusiast queues form for the top iPhone model. 

The Real World's First Look at iOS 7

Is the tech world ready to rename September as Applember yet? It seems to have been dominated by fruit-flavored news of one sort or another. So far, we've had the big iPhones reveal, pre-orders for the iPhone 5C, the new iOS and, finally, Friday will see the arrival of the iPhone 5S, with millions of sales expected. 

Sure, there were struggles to download due to raw demand, and then more problems installing iOS 7 as the activation servers jammed up. But somehow I and millions more managed to update their devices. I managed to get both an iPhone 4S and an iPad 3 upgraded within reasonable time yesterday as the system went live. Reports, based on net access, suggest almost a third of active iOS device users have managed to upgrade in one day, an impressive effort.

Since, then, its been interesting to see what real users, and not just over-opinionated hacks, hackers and other technorati are saying. Most opinion is that it is simply "different" not in a good or bad way, but just different. For example, the new icons are described as looking horrible against many personally-selected backgrounds (usually family or event photos taken on the device) which is nudging users to try the dynamic or still wallpapers, better suited to letting the flat icons stand out, while crimping user choice (at least if we want to avoid a headache). 

Some icons though are apparently beyond redemption, with the Safari icon and Newsstand efforts being particularly loathed, I'd guess due to their overly fussy approach compared to the simplicity of the others. On the plus side, the Clock icon now actually shows the time, even if that duplicates the system function at the top of the screen, and more features are now accessible using the swipe up and down menus. 

Performance wise, iOS 7 sees just a hint of animation lag on the iPhone 4S (could that be a nudge to upgrade from Apple?) but looks very good on the iPad 3. I wouldn't attempt it on an iPhone 4 or older and I'm sure iPhone 5 users are delighted with it. 

Show Me A Feature

As far as new features go across the OS and default apps go, many guides have been written about them. But, the Weather app now mimics Yahoo's successful approach, making that app pretty redundant. The Photos app makes it easier to find your Panoramic shots by adding them as a distinct list, the Compass app has a new tilt feature to measure how flat a surface is and apps like Contacts, Music and Calendar all have a more consistent look to them. 

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Within the OS, you can now close apps by double-pressing the Home button and then swiping up on the apps you want to close, not the icons which you used to have to hold down individually to get rid of. Searching is now just a matter of swiping down from any icon screen and, if you swipe up from the bottom, then radio controls, volume and brightness, plus torch, timer, calculator and camera apps are just one click away. 

There is a hell of a lot packed into iOS 7, and exploring is half the fun, even relatively simple features like the Camera have all manner of little extras bolted on. The good to bad swing-o-meter here has to be buried in the good, but Apple can easily be accused of copying and running out of innovations to add in. 

Back To the Desktop and the Future

While most Apple users were glued to their gadgets on the upgrade route, several important updates were also happening on the desktop. We have a new iCloud Control Panel, iTunes and QuickTime to grab, with the iCloud app helping manage your browser bookmarks, manage contacts with Outlook and the usual cloud storage options. 

iTunes now makes it a one-click jump from an artist or song on your playlist to the store to buy more content, and iTunes Radio now offers endless music. QuickTime I'd forgotten existed and now seems to borrow more from iTunes, while doing some awful things. Click on "Theatrical Trailers" and it opens up a browser window to show you the choices, staggeringly horrible!

All of which leaves users with the main event. the iPhone 5S is, despite its 64-bit power, a modest upgrade to the family, with the next-big-things coming in the iPhone 6 model. With reported low stocks of the golden model, and queues already forming, it is likely to be another mega-earner for Apple, although hard to top the sales of previous models.

 
 
 
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