Apple WWDC 2013: iOS 7 Feature Police

10 June 2013
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Taking a cue from fashion bloggers across the web, CURTIS Digital polled our mobile enthusiasts about a few of the major features of the newly announced iOS 7 from the Apple WWDC 2013 Conference. Here are their thoughts!

Our contributors:

  • John Curtis, CURTIS Digital CEO – personal iPhone User, iOS and Android guru
  • Esther Turner, V.P. of Operations – personal iPhone User, iOS and Android guru
  • Jenny Elder, Project Manager – personal Android User, PM for several iOS applications
  • Michael Liu, Business Analyst – personal Android User, BA for iOS and Android apps
  • Justin Kerr, Project Assistant – personal Android User, PA for several iOS applications

1. Multitasking – Multitasking is no longer four icons, but entire page views that you can swipe through to view your background mode apps. 

Multitasking
Image from The Verge

John:   I can’t wait to see what happens to RAM and network utilization. 

Esther:   This doesn’t feel like a new feature, but it’s great to still be included. I like multitasking when being able to text and browse the Internet while on my phone. Only issue I have is the same as I have today, the battery life. I use background mode to delete the apps, more than use them. I don’t know what’s different, but if it results in an optimized mode for battery life, that’s awesome. 

Jenny:    I’m having flashbacks to iOS 4. From a development perspective – I think this is going to cause problems with performance. Right now Apple restricts the amount of processing power an app can have in the background, and can kill resources for an app running in the background without actually closing out the app. So when your app crashes on launch from background? Thank Apple. iOS will kill apps in background mode if it needs more power in the foreground app. I’m curious if this won’t cause more problems since people leave many apps running in the background. I know Android does this, but I’ve never seen the value in a mobile platform. I don’t need to do more than 1 thing on a phone at a time, it’s too small of a form factor.

Michael:   It’s about time. I’m concerned with the battery life though.

Justin:   Multitasking almost looks like a solution in search of a problem. I’ve never have a moment where I’m watching a movie and want to check my email at the same time. When I’m using an app, I want to use one thing at a time. Switching back and forth doesn’t feel like something a phone should do. Also, I thought iOS did this already?  

2. SIRI – now complete with male and female voice

SiriImage from The Verge

John:    [silence…] I see the solution, now I’m just curious as to what the problem was. 

Esther:    Awesome! I like having a little variety. 

Jenny:     Spoiler alert: every GPS on the market has been doing this for years, WITH regional accents. I can’t believe this was announced as a thing. This isn’t a feature to be excited about. This is the kind of announcement that gets included as fillers. Next. 

Michael:    I don’t care; I’m an Android user so this doesn’t affect me.

Justin:    [laughter] Um, now I get a whole new personality to get angry with when I use SIRI. Actually, I don’t use SIRI or any ‘talk back to me’ phone feature. Again, seems like a solution in search of a problem.

3. iTunes Radio – Offering radio stations similiar to other streaming music services 

RadioImage from The Verge

John:    It’s a radio from iTunes right, like Spotify? Pandora has 70 million users, but it seems neat. For me this becomes a build versus buy questions – I would have considered a strategy on acquiring Pandora or Spotify to corner the market on streaming music content.

Esther:    Awesome, cool. I use Pandora daily, so if this can be just as good as creating stations then I’m happy. Is this free?

Jenny:    Interesting, because Pandora and Spotify have very different value propositions. I have more questions than excitement. Is it a subscription service? Is it one more thing I have to pay for? What kind of algorithms are they using to facilitate a playlist? Is this supposed to be a loss leader for purchasing content on iTunes?

The thing about Pandora and Spotify is that this is their only business. Of course they’re going to be the best at it, this is their entire platform. iTunes Radio is just one facet of a larger offering. Thanks, but I’ll stick with Pandora/Spotify. They will always do this better than you. 

Michael:  I’m curious to see what’s different between Radio Pandora, Spotify and iTunes Radio. What is so cool about this that I’ll switch from my current platform?

Justin:    I’m assuming this is their response to Spotify and Pandora. I don’t use Apple products a lot, but I guess it’s kind of cool that they are offering this natively to their systems. I’ll probably stick to the services that I use now. I am curious to see how it ends up, remember AppleMaps? Everything went crazy. I wonder if iTunes Radio is along the same lines.

 4. New UI

UI
Image from The Verge

John:    It all starts with Android and Microsoft having a baby… Interesting refresh, I feel like it’s an incremental step, but not a full redesign. Skeuomorphism seems to be behind us.

Esther:  Interesting. I like how they use the white phone to show this off. I think it looks very iPhone and Apple centric. It looks a lot like the current version, but I can they’ve made improvements to the transparency, how you can flip through apps. Nothing on here strikes me as WOW, looks a bit expected.

Jenny: The background looks like a hyper child threw up Skittles on the phone. It looks like the same layout, but everything is flatter. What is the second screen? It’s tiny and wasting space. If you’re going to make the screen the longest, skinniest screen in the world, make the ratio count. The last screen does look cool, like flipping through a folio or Rolodex. These examples just don’t look like a good use of screen space overall. The all in one place business is interesting, but I’d be curious to see how customizable it really is.

These are stunningly boring updates for an entire rev of the OS. I should be excited, but instead it’s like watching my grandfather try to understand rap songs. Apple is chasing everyone else’s tails on this rev, instead of paving the way to the new innovation. Steve Jobs can rest happy knowing his creative genius is missed.  I’m holding out for the Apple hoverboard that Back to the Future promised me.

Michael:  It looks awesome! I love it. I like how vibrant it is, it doesn’t feel as drab. I wouldn’t say it is ‘hip,’ but again, I do like how vibrant it is.

Justin:    I’m not really an Apple products user; I guess it looks nice enough. I like the settings overlay, it nice to have everything in one place, if that’s what this is. I know that I had to add an app on my Android phone to have everything in one place. Is the last screen a RSS reader? If it is, I guess that’s a neat interface. Otherwise, this looks like we are dressing up a taller iPhone.

5. All Day Battery for MacBook – The 11-inch MacBook boasts 9 hours of battery life, the 13-inch MacBook promises 12 hours. 

Macbook
Image from The Verge

John:    I’m not sure I care. TBD.

Esther:    Battery life in the iPhone has been a problem, so seeing that it’s improving for MacBook makes me hope that it will soon improve for mobile phones. I’m not a Mac user, so I don’t care about the MacBook, but ‘Go Apple’ for figuring out how to increase the battery life somewhere.

Jenny:    You’re going to have to prove to me that these batteries last as long as they say. Any battery life of any computer I’ve ever had has never matched what they promised. What are the specs here: do I have to turn off wifi, or be in a prime connection area, or not use streaming video, or some other caveat in small print?I’ve never seen a car that gets the gas mileage it promises, much less a computer that actually lasts as long as they say it will. Most consumers at this stage in the game accept poor battery life because all mobile devices suffer from the same shortcoming. The product manufacturer that can offer legitimate long battery life will reign as king of the consumer.

Michael:    Heck yeah! That’s exciting. Will the MacBook be heavier? How did they test to know that it will last that long, and what battery update did they make so that my computer will last for 7-12 hours?

Justin:    Is that confirmed for super high power usage? 7 or 8 hours is pretty nice, we’ll see about 12. Is there a big cost increase for all these new battery features? Honestly, it’s good for computers in general if Apple has some resource that is providing them with 7hr batteries, other places will have to pick this up. I can see it helping all tech providers. It’s a sign that in general, batteries are getting better.