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Summary:

Apple introduced a lot of changes with the iOS 7 redesign, but not all of them worked for me. Here are a few things that seem off about the new operating system’s design.

spotlight iOS 7

With the release of iOS 7 last Wednesday, Apple entered a new era in its software design philosphy: a style that abandons skeuomorphism, gradients and textures in favor of translucency, depth and motion. However, as with any major shift in software design, there’s going to be hiccups along the way. Below, I’m going to take a look at the most annoying ones in iOS 7.

Disappearing controls

The white payback bars blend into the background

The white part of the sliders disappears against the background of the video.

Many controls in iOS 7 have a flat appearance now, with no gradients and only one background color. The problem with this, as Cabel Sasser pointed out on Twitter, comes when you have a background that matches the color of the control, as the control blends in and disappears. As an example, if you’re running iOS 7 and you play, say, Apple’s iPhone 5s marketing video, you’ll notice that the volume and playback sliders are only partially visible.

New Music app

music_albums

Which would you rather scroll through?

I have two problems with the new Music app. First, they changed the way that you navigate an artist’s albums. In iOS 6, when you selected an artist, a list of their albums came up and then you could navigate into each album to see its songs. In 7, the albums and songs are combined in one view, and you can’t drill down to a particular album. This design makes it harder to select an album when there’s many, because I have to scroll through the songs for every other album. The only rationale I can think of for the new design is that you don’t have to switch back and forth between album and song views, but I’d much rather do that than scroll through 11 Modest Mouse albums and their songs.

music_comparison

My second problem is the way the Music app looks on the iPad: like a blown-up version of the iPhone app. This has consequences for usability, as in the iOS 6 Music app you can see up to 20 artists at once in portrait mode, compared to 8 for the iOS 7 version. Considering that Apple executives derided Android tablets for their lack of tablet-optimized apps, it’s worrisome that the new Music app isn’t tablet optimized itself. I’m hoping that this was simply due to time constraints and a better version will come along in an update.

Unified status and navigation bars

facebook_statusbarIn iOS 6, the status bar and navigation bars were conceptually separate and the status bar was always black or a gradient that matched the navigation bar. In 7, the two bars are unified and have one, flat color. I actually like the way this looks better than in iOS 6, but this new design also introduces problems. First, developers will have to use the black status bar anyway if they have a sidebar that’s a different color than the status bar. The iOS 7 Facebook app is a good example of this: when you’re on the main news feed, the status bar and nav bar are blue, but when you open the dark-colored chat sidebar, the status bar changes to black so it doesn’t clash.

awkward_statusbar

The second problem comes up when you have an app without a navigation bar: you’re left with an awkward-looking floating status bar that matches the background of the content behind it. The updated Apple Store app and Reeder 2 both have this problem.

New search gesture

In iOS 6, you could access a universal search field by swiping to the left-most home screen, which had a little magnifying glass instead of the usual circle to indicate its purpose. In 7, you swipe down on any home screen to open search. I can understand the rationale behind the change: in an app, you swipe down to get to the search field as well, so why shouldn’t it be the same way on the home screen?

While the new approach is conceptually consistent, it sacrifices discoverability in the process by getting rid of the magnifying glass indicator. Apple tries to solve this problem by showing the user a prompt after they set up their devices that explains this change. If Apple had simply updated the look of the old design, it would have still been discoverable without submitting the user to yet another annoying setup prompt.

Little things

  • The Missed tab in Notification Center almost always has the same notifications in it as the All tab, so what’s the point of it? I think it’s there just so they have three tabs.
  • If you have a notification badge on an icon at the top of a homescreen, you can actually get the badge to go up into the status bar because of the new parallax effect.
  • There’s no Edit button in the new Weather app, so if you want to delete a weather location you have to be aware of the “swipe-to-delete” convention first.
  • As Marc Edwards pointed out on Twitter, the new date picker UI has fewer and smaller drag areas than the old one, making it slightly harder to use.
  • In the iOS 7 camera, you switch between modes like Panorama and Square by swiping left and right. The only problem is that there’s no visual hint that you should swipe, and you can’t simply tap on the label of a mode to switch to it.

Editor’s note: GigaOM will be highlighting the future of UI design at our experience design conference RoadMap in November in San Francisco.

Are there any design issues with iOS 7 that I missed? Tell us in the comments. 

  1. One thing which has been really irritating me since the last few days is that now even if you have only one notification in the Notification Center, you have to pull it all the way down to see it.

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  2. Can’t add new contacts from recent calls in phone app. Cursor appears but no keypad

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    1. I have no problem adding a new contact from the recents. Maybe you forgot to tap on a field? Tapping on a field brings up the keyboard so you can type into that field.

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    2. Yes, you can. The ‘button’ is below the number as you start typing.

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      1. No you can’t. The name, surname and company are uneditable, because of the no-keyboard -bug.

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        1. The name last and company are gray, but if u tap it keyboard comes up and it does work

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    3. Same thing here. Not only can’t add new contacts from recent calls, even cant’ directly add one. No keypad!!!

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      1. found a solution for your your problem? i have the same

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      2. Restarting the phone fixed it for me!!

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        1. thanks, had the same issue, restarting fixed it

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          1. I guess the problem occurs when another application (eg Messages or Safari) has opened keypad. It’s not necessary to restart your phone – just turn off that app (or close keypad):
            - double-press the control button
            - scroll through opened apps and look for application that has keypad visible at its screenshot
            - swipe-up this app to close it.
            - voila! – you can now edit inputs in “Create new contact” form.

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    4. This happened to me too, then I saw a recommendation to get rid of apostrophe’s in your name (for example change Bob’s iPhone to Bobs iPhone). After that I had my keyboard available when adding new contacts – even from recent calls.

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    5. restarting the phone fixed it for me!

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    6. I solved the problem by turning the phone off and on again.

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    7. Had same problem it gets fixed after restarting your phone….. Worked on it for 3 days…..

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    8. Yes, my husband has this problem with his phone too. When he taps on a field, the cursor blinks in that field, but no keypad pops up.

      He is able to create the contact with just the phone number in it, then go to it through the Contacts freestanding app, and edit it in there.

      Looking for the solution.

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  3. I miss the “.com” key on the keyboard! It’s not in iOS 7 anymore.

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    1. If you hold down the “.” period key, it pops up.

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      1. Nope

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        1. I only see it when entering web addresses, it’s not always there.

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  4. In photos, once you get to years. There is no way of getting back or going anywhere. So you have to switch off app and switch on again. Try it and see.

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    1. What? Just tap an image thumb within the year mosaic

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  5. There’s no consistency in the color of the keyboard. The black one looks the best but I only see it when typing in a password in the App Store or iTunes.

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    1. You nailed it! I immediately restored my phone to IOS 6.1.3 when I say…or should I say couldn’t see the keyboard. It’s faint and washed out! I didn’t even check out the rest of IOS 7. I knew I could make do on my iPad but there was NO WAY I could live with that keyboard on my iPhone. Apple should offer us the option, as I am willing to bet that at least 75% of my activity on my iPhone is iMessaging and texting!

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      1. Kathleen Kochany Tuesday, September 24, 2013

        Photo problem with ios7. Every time I take a photo with my iphone 5 it goes into my iPad photo TWICE! What is up with that. I had to sit an manually delete all the extras. Anyone else having this problem? And why is it so hard to see that washed out keyboard?

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        1. Check and see if you have the HDR feature turned on; its at the top of your camera screen and will read in white letters, “HDR Off” or, if on, in yellow letters, “HDR On”. If HDR is enabled it will take two photos, one normal and on HDR quality.

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        2. Sorry, my response was cut short…

          …You might have the HDR (high dynamic range) feature enabled in which case it will take/produce two photos: one regular and one HDR. Check the top of your camera screen when your camera app is open. It will read in either, white letters “HDR Off” indicating the feature is turned off (which will produce only one photo) or in yellow letters reading “HDR On” (which will produce two photos as stated above). Just tap the title to toggle it on or off :)

          If you don’t know what HDR is, check out this quick little article here: http://www.macworld.com/article/1153850/hdrontheiphone.html

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      2. Right on ! My girlfriend is so pissed off with the look and difficulty seeing text and keyboard etc on her iPhone she swears unless they fix it by at least adding customisation she will never buy another iPhone!
        I find the washed out colour scheme on my iPad much harder on the eyes. All the text is narrower making it harder for the visually impaired. I.E. Virtually everyone over 50!
        Plus, the colours are ugly! Lime green ? Yuck.

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        1. Think the “lime green” texts are bad? Go check out the neon pink Music app controls. It is absolutely awful design to hard-code garish colors like that. .If Apple is going to force everyone in their gigantic user base to use the same color scheme then they need to stick to conservative legible colors. Of course, why they think 50 year old men and teenage girls will be happy with the same colors in the first place is a mystery.

          And I agree 100% that the thin washed out fonts being a problem for nearly everyone over 50.

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          1. I agree At my age I loved the iPhone because I could read it easy …now i couldn’t even see how to answer my phone today ……can’t see the recents and etc plus other places on my iPhone and iPad !!!! Soooooo disappointed.

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        2. I agree that neon green has to go. Every time I look at my iPhone it’s like having a flashlight pointed at my face. It is indeed very difficult to read the screen even after I turned on bold type. Apple has reinvented the wheel the only problem is that now it’s square. The Samsung Galaxy never looked better.

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      3. I hated it too, until I found a setting to make all the fonts nice and bold again! Go to Settings, Accessibility, and turn Bold Text ON (requires reboot of the phone to take effect).

        Funny glitch I noticed…everything is bold except the carrier name text lol :)

        But at least I can see my keyboard and read messages, emails, etc again!

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    2. Kathleen Kochany Tuesday, September 24, 2013

      I agree. Can hardly see to type on this washed out keyboard.

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    3. I am also finding the new keyboard harder to see on my iPhone. Why did Apple screw with this??

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  6. I also have problems with the Music App. I’m not sure if iit’s iOS 7 or the new version of iTunes, but my album artwork doesn’t completely transfer. I also dislike that the album and artist, if it’s longer than the screen view, doesn’t always scroll across the screen. These items are very important to those who have a lot of classical music in itunes. I’ve already filled out Feedback forms but I wonder how long it will take for Apple to put out a bug fix update.

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    1. It’s worst Music app update so far.
      I hate these new changes.

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    2. I don’t understand how to play music and be on some other app. It used to be u left the app, and double click, you then pressed play. But if u double click now it’s ur passed apps! Ugh
      I need my YouTube!

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      1. Brittney Jane Sunday, October 6, 2013

        Slide up?

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  7. Music app is terrible for exactly the reasons mentioned in the article and Greg’s comment. I can’t believe this is what Apple has done to a vital app – the company that always tells us how much they “love music.” It makes me not want to use the Music app at all and instead use an alternative for nearly all of my listening, like my Rdio subscription.

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    1. It’s an annoyance – when I move an app to a page that’s full, the bottom right app or folder disappears… Any fix???

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  8. Thank you for pointing out the change in what happens when you select an artist in the Music app. I thought I was the only one who noticed. This was a huge negative change for me and I am very surprised they went that way. Lot’s of bands have lots of albums and it’s pretty hard to get to some of them now.

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    1. What? The albums appear underneath the artist after searching for an artist. No need to scroll through all the songs. This is a non-issue. I have 135 Grateful Dead albums and they all appear on the left, touch album to drill down. Why are you scrolling through songs? This is a non-issue.

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      1. It’s a major issue. I don’t search my music I scroll, if I select Bad Religion who I have 16 albums of and over 300 songs. It has just made my attempt to listen to one single album of theirs a chore. The fact it turns their music into one giant playlist is not what I want. I shouldn’t have to search to get to what I want. It was perfect as it was.

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  9. Good points. There are so many weird and inconsistent things about iOS 7 that I really hope Apple sort out. I guess this just is part of releasing a major UI overhaul, but it does feel like they haven’t spent the time they should have done going through it in more detail refining it and sorting out the inconsistencies and odd behaviours.

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  10. The bug. When I try to re-size a picture to use as a wallpaper in iOS 7, it won’t re-size. I stretch it bigger or make it smaller and it snaps right back. Tried this on several pictures to no avail. Happens on my iPhone5 and iPad4.

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    1. Happened to me too, and everyone I’ve talked to. Apple really needs to so something about it, since millions can’t afford to upgrade to the iPhone 5 or better right away, and want their backgrounds to be a picture from their library instead of the dynamic ones.

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      1. I have an iPhone 5 and it does the same thing

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      2. I have an iPhone 5 and it does the same thing

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        1. It only shows up when holding the period key if I’m on a field for entering a URL. Otherwise, nope. But wasn’t it this way in iOS 6 too? Almost wish I had a device that wasn’t updated to compare things like this.

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    2. Yes this is a BIG problem for me!!!! I hate it. That is one of the things I loved about the iPhone is it would fit any picture perfectly on your lock screen or home screen now you’re forced to cut some of the picture out and it’s blown up. Reminds me of android! Hope they fix it ASAP

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    3. Yes the functionality of choosing a photo for your wallpaper is very confusing and apparently buggy now. You select an image from a library as before and it fills the screen, near the bottom of the displayed image is white text saying “Move and Scale” but thanks to the new “buttonless” UI design it’s unclear if this is just a hint/instruction or if it’s a button you need to click to make changes to how the image is displayed (tapping it does nothing so presumably it’s the former). Below the image are the old button labels – “Set Lock Screen”, “Set Home Screen”, etc. but they are also just text now.

      If you move and pinch the image displayed it moves and resizes (why it doesn’t simply auto-resize it like it used to is an interesting question; why do you need to manipulate it to begin with?), but snaps back to the original too high zoom setting and position as soon as you let go. Also, response to tap selecting an image from library initially and tapping the set buttons later is very slow on my iPad 3, several seconds before anything happens following these taps with no indication it has “taken”.

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    4. having the same issue over here…most annoying
      repositioning works, but resizing does not…

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    5. Yes, I had this issue too. And it’s by far the most annoying since the upgrade

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    6. I believe it has to do with the way parallax works. In order for the phone to make the “magic” of parallax possible, you have to remove a percentage of the edges of the photo so that there’s something to appear as “moving” when you tilt the phone.

      If you go to Settings, Accessibility and turn “Reduce Motion” ON it will disable the parallax effect in your wallpaper, which makes it work like it did in iOS 6 (enables you to zoom out of a photo to set the entire image as the background).

      I like the parallax effect, but I don’t like that I lose part of the wallpaper image to achieve it. It’s not exactly a bug, it’s just a side effect of how it works.

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      1. Thank you, just saved my life there.

        I figure they’ll have a lot of these bugs solved on iOS 7. 1 once it comes out. Remember everyone that it took ver. 6. 1 6. 2 then finally 6. 3 for iOS 6 to get as reliable as it did. Doubt we’ll get to end of the year before we see 7. 1 out

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