We've been inseparable for several years, but this week we've been going through a patch. I wouldn't quite call it a spat--I seem to be the only one who thinks there's a problem. Too soon to say if we'll split or if I'll find a way to make things work. But what do you do when you thought everything was just fine and then someone else decides everything has to change?
No, things have not been good around here this week, not since Apple shoved out its new iOS7 for the iPhone.
I'll get this out of the way right off, because it's not a functional issue, but it is important--I don't like the subtle graphic changes they've made to the interface. I've heard from people who do, but I think the new graphic look is flat, bland, awkward, disorganized, and just not as elegant and classy as I'm used to seeing from Apple. Someone said it looked more like a design from Fisher-Price or Crayola, and yeah, looks that way to me, too.
Getting to functional issues: the new standard screen typeface is elegant looking, but very thin and attenuated and hard to read if you don't have 20-20 vision. And I most definitely don't. I've increased the type size to the max and turned on the boldface feature and it's not as bad. Not quite. But still bad. Big loss of user friendliness there. And am I the only one who has to hold the phone really, really close to my face to see if it's charging or not? Not a minor issue, given how seriously the new iOS drains power.
And I'm getting seriously tired of having the icons for features I regularly use disappear. Some disappeared with the update, and I think others have randomly gone AWOL since. Occasionally they show up in places where I know I didn't put them, but sometimes they disappear completely. I spent two hours one evening trying to regain the ability to buy songs through iTunes. The icon for the iTunes disappeared from my desktop. The feature no longer showed up in the top left corner of the screen in Music. I finally found a help page that suggested resetting all my settings. The icon came back--and with it a lot of default settings I'd reset to my preferences. Add in another half hour for resetting all of those. Sigh. No one can explain why the iTunes store icon disappeared, or convince me that other critical icons will not disappear as well, probably just when I really need to use them. And if returning to the factory settings is going to be the solution whenever something goes awry, I can see an Android in my future.
The one feature I originally thought was a good idea--the ability to have all your apps updated automatically, instead of having to do it one by one--nearly got me killed this weekend, so I'm having second thoughts about that.
I took off from my house to go to the Baltimore Book Festival. I programmed the address of the parking garage I usually use for the festival into the TomTom app on my iPhone. But I didn't start navigation, because I don't really need the GPS to get me most of the way to Baltimore--only to help me land at the right place when I get there. No need to listen to the GPS ordering me through every lane change for the first hour of the drive.
But I heard a traffic report on the radio that warned of a hideous backup along my intended route. Time for my GPS to come to the rescue! I found a place where I could pull over, so I could start the route I'd planned, and then ask it to avoid the area of the traffic jam.
The Tomtom application had started automatically updating itself. And stopped, leaving itself not updated but also in limbo and unusable. It's such a honking huge program that it can't update without a Wifi connection. Which I might be able to find somewhere at the festival, and could certainly have at my house that evening, but neither option was going to help me by the side of the road, with the minutes left until my panel ticking away.
So I found my way to Baltimore without a GPS. I had printed directions--I'm a belt and suspenders kind of person about that--but the minute I came to a construction detour, I was lost. At one point, in trying to find the festival, I blundered into a neighborhood that looked just a wee bit blighted. In fact, more than just a wee bit; it was the sort of neighborhood in which puking winos lurch across the street at random intervals and careen off your bumper, causing you to reach up in a casual manner and pretend you're drumming your fingers on the windowsill, when actually you are clicking the door lock button repeatedly to make absolutely-damn-sure all four doors are secured.I was just grateful squeegees appear to be out of fashion in this part of Baltimore.
I made it on time. Cranky, but on time. Going home took longer than usual, too, because I found myself in the midst of the vast rush of traffic hitting the roads in the wake of an Orioles game. If my TomTom app had been working, I'd have tried to find another route. Thanks to that automatic update, I had to wait my way through the traffic jam. Took about 45 minutes to go eight blocks near the stadium.
So I'm going to turn off automatic update. Just as soon as I figure out which way is off. The little on/off buttons don't say. Is off to the left, so it's all white? Or to the right, so the color shows? Maybe it's supposed to be intuitive, but it's not to me. Another triumph of form over function--would it kill them to put an on/off marking there? Just for us un-cool idiots who don't quite get it?
On the positive side, I haven't thrown my Windows computers overboard for a Mac, and probably won't, if iOS7 is an accurate indication of the direction the company will take under its relatively new SVP of design, Jony Ive. Then again--Microsoft is just as notorious for doing what it damn well pleases in spite of what the users want. Still--I expected better of Apple.
And in case you think I'm the only one complaining,. . .
I hadn't thought to blame the headache I've had on and off for the last week on Apple until I saw this article in Forbes about the zoom animation in iOS7 causing nausea, dizziness, motion sickness and headache. But I'll be keeping an eye on that feature.
In the "wish I'd said that" file: an Australian tech blogger describes the new system as Jony Ive's pastel-infused monstrosity and adds "The tiny new icon font is purely a cosmetic change, highlighting just how arrogant Apple can be when it comes to putting design before the needs of users."
And Infoworld reports that "iOS 7's HTML5 is full of bugs," which means I'm bracing myself for problems using the new version of Safari. Now that I've found it; no idea why the new icon for a browser looks so much like the icon for a compass.
And I completely agree with Lauren Orisini of Read/Write on what The Three Most Annoying Things In iOS77 are, although I'm not sure it's really possible to fix them. She does try.
In short, this particular geekette is not a happy tech camper this week.