iOS 7: The Delightful Details



Your iPhone and iPad have never looked so fresh and different. The new look and feel of iOS 7 is the most significant design change since the toggle buttons went from rounded rectangles to circles.

With so much new, I wanted to focus on a handful of the smaller, delightful details.

The Lock Screen

From a purely aesthetic standpoint, I find the design of the Lock screen to be wonderful. I love the open, airy feel and how you can swipe from anywhere on the Lock screen to unlock your iPhone.

If you use a passcode lock, the Pin Pad slides over from the left side of the display. It’s a nice touch, and I bring it up because for future 5s owners, this is something you won’t be seeing very often come Friday.

And one more cool little detail of the Lock screen is that if you’ve snoozed an alarm or set a timer, the Lock screen shows the time remaining.

Launching / Exiting Apps

When you open an app, it expands from the app icon’s location on the Home screen to fill the display. When you exit an app, it minimizes back into the icon.

The Clock App’s Icon

If you look at the icon for the Clock app, you’ll notice that not only does it now show the correct time, even the second hand moves just like an analog clock.

The Music App

When you are looking at an album or playlist list and the currently playing song is in view, an “EQ” graphic is animated to the left of the song that’s now playing.

iOS 7 - bouncing EQ bars in the music app

Your entire iTunes music collection (of songs you’ve purchased from the iTunes music store) is now listed in the Music app. And you can now stream and download any song in your iTunes library even if it’s not downloaded to your iPhone.

Turning your iPhone into Landscape mode to see the new Cover Flow design shows a thumbnail grid of album covers.

Safari

If ever there was a case where you shouldn’t judge an app by its icon, this is it. Safari in iOS 7 has the worst of the new icons, yet it is my favorite new app. In it are a slew of changes and improvements to the graphics, design, and functionality.

  • Reader mode: The look of Safari’s Reader mode is much improved compared to iOS 6. It’s cleaner and ties in with the overall Helvetica-gushing design aesthetic of iOS 7.

    Tap the three-line “paragraph” icon that’s in the left of the Address bar and a sheet slides down over the website you’re on presenting you with a reader friendly text-view.

    If you see no icon, then Safari doesn’t know how to parse the text, or it doesn’t think there’s text worth parsing.

  • Minimizing Chrome: When you scroll down on a web page you’ll see how Safari’s chrome minimizes: the address bar gets smaller and the icon tool bar on the bottom disappears altogether.

    And when viewing a webpage in landscape orientation, Safari will go into full-screen mode with all the chrome disappearing — even the status bar — in order to allow as much vertical space as possible.

    Tapping the bottom of the screen will bring up the bottom tool bar.

There are many, many more design changes and improvements to Mobile Safari. Overall, the updates to this app are just fantastic. Well done, Mobile Safari team.

Messages

You’ll notice this right away the first time you scroll an iMessage / SMS conversation: the chat bubbles are slightly springy and bouncy, moving as you scroll the conversation.

I love the use of the circle picture avatars in group message threads. And if no picture is attached to a contact, then the iPhone uses their initials as their “avatar” instead.

And, something else you may not know but which is very awesome: swipe from right to left in a Messages conversation to view the individual timestamps of each sent and received message.

Control Center

This isn’t a “small” detail by any means — it’s one of the headlining features in iOS 7. But it’s one of my favorite additions to iOS. I love having the quick access to toggle certain settings (such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and more), and it’s very helpful to be able to launch certain apps from anywhere in the phone, even the Lock screen.

For example, when I’m brewing my morning cup of AeroPress’d coffee, I can get to the stopwatch with just a swipe up from the Home screen and then a tap to the Clock app.

Also, if you look closely, the on/off button on the flashlight icon toggles up and down as you toggle the actual switch in Control Center.

Toggling Flashlight icon in iOS 7 Control Center

Notification Center

The Today view learns about your commuting habits and gives you information about how far away you are from your next destination. Also, it shows the natural language summary of your day today and tomorrow with weather, appointments, etc.

Checking the Today summary of my day has become part of my morning routine. Notification Center can be called from the Lock screen, so I simply tap the Home button, then swipe down from the top of the screen to see a brief overview of what the weather is going to be and what (if any) appointments I have today.

Scanning in an iTunes gift card

Launch the App Store app, scroll to the bottom of the Featured page, then tap on “Redeem.” Then…

Delight is in the Details

I’ve been running iOS 7 on my iPhone since the day it was first announced. It is a stark contrast to what we’ve been so familiar with on the iPhone and iPad, but it quickly grows on you. And all of these little details that are sprinkled throughout iOS 7 — some obvious, some not so obvious — just go to show that even when doing a major overhaul of their most popular operating system, Apple still takes time to sweat the details and add in those little design decisions which surprise and delight.