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iOS 7 design underwhelms while functions improve

By Christen Sparagoby Christen Sparago Thresher Editorial Staff iOS 7 makes my phone look like it belon     9/23/13 7:00pm

iOS 7 makes my phone look like it belongs in a candy store.

Nobody has time for that.

I simultaneously hate it and love it. The changes are distracting, I cannot find anything, and the morning after I updated my iPhone 4s, I overslept because my alarm clock sounded so different.

I am usually skeptical about software updates, but in fairness, iOS 7 is a mixed bag of the wonderful and bizarre.

It is shockingly peppy - even overwhelmingly so. The Messages, Email and Calendar apps - and their color schemes - look like they were imported from the '90s.

But in this case, retro does not necessarily equal hip. The built-in Apple backgrounds include a mix of calm nature scenes and bold geometric patterns, but there are no longer the middle-of-the-road choices, like the peacock feather, for noncommittal iPhone users like me.

It is beyond me that Apple still does allow users to customize things like text color. Message text is now white, which is decidedly annoying. It's hard to read unless you are in a dark place like a closet or Fondren Sixth on a Sunday, and let's face it: Most iPhone users reading this probably text while walking, biking or sitting in a lecture hall lit by fluorescents.

Even more unsettling is that text bubbles are no longer 3-D, even though the background shifts when I tilt my phone - one of the more entertaining changes. And the Safari icon looks more than ever like a compass, even though it is harder to navigate the Web without the Google search bar.

Design-wise, Apple took a step backward with this update. What was advertised as beautiful and innovative is reminiscent of the graphics from the bright pink flip phone I had in middle school. However, in terms of usability, this is the best phone I have ever had.

The control center holds infinite pleasant surprises; this glorious addition can be used to set alarms. And to change the screen brightness, adjust the music volume, and toggle the Do Not Disturb and Airplane modes. Pretty much everything I need to do is there - which is probably the point of a control center.

Just like all other first-world problems, iOS 7 will take some getting used to.

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