iOS 7: Change can be good…unless you hate it.

One time, I lost 17 years of online financial records, because I hadn’t realized that the latest Mac OS and Intuit weren’t on speaking terms.  Ever since, I’ve made a point of waiting until release x.1 of something.  Last week, however, I installed iOS 7 as soon as possible, because I needed to preview it before an iPad class.  The first thing I noticed was the skinny fonts, and the next thing I noticed was that an app the students were going to be using kept crashing the iPad, so I wandered off to look at other people’s reactions to iOS.

Scanning a few websites (Wired.com, Mashable.com’s Best and Worst, WashingtonPost.com) was enlightening. To save you the trouble of looking it all up, here are some comparative quotes:

“Breath of fresh air, very original.”  vs. “Total ripoff of the Android OS.”

“Awesome palette.”  vs. “Looks like it was designed for My Little Pony fans.”

“I really like the changes to Messages.”  vs. “Awful text message screen.”

“It’s elegant, spare, translucent and attractive.”  vs. “New look is cold and sterile.”

Many presumably content iOS 6 users are struggling to adapt:

“Please tell me there is a high-contrast mode, with readable text for those who are visually impaired.”

“The thin type is hard to read for those whose eyesight is not that great.”

“The screen looks childish. Letters and numbers are not bold enough, making it difficult to type and read
.”

“The status bar info is now quite tiny. Sharp, but tiny for older eyes.”

“Too bright!…My eyes have aged to the point where bright, white backgrounds impair my ability to view content. “

“IOS7 did a disservice to me, a low vision, hand impaired individual.”

Much as I hate to admit it, change is often difficult.  I don’t know what the actual percentages and time frames are, but new versions of anything are usually greeted negatively by a vocal majority and praised by a minority; then, as we adapt, the complaints die away, and we forget what we were complaining about.  This may be the norm, but it’s not the ideal!

“It’s curious that Apple didn’t allow users to maintain the old appearance as an option.”

“Why fix what isn’t broken?…and Apple won’t let you revert to previous system.”

People often complain about changes, saying they wish things could be the same.  But things don’t stay the same, and I don’t think we actually want them to .  Imagine that the only way to interact with a computer was with punchcards, or command-line interfaces.  Black-and-white CRT monitors, anyone?

When I installed iOS 7 on my iPad, I thought there would be a tutorial or setup process.  The automatic setup process involving something like selecting my country, but that was about it.  I couldn’t find an overview or tour or tutorial right away, and it wasn’t until an associate pointed out the new accessibility features that address some of the worst features in the new iOS.  At a professional event the next evening, I passed along these same pointers to a mobile app developer, who was herself bemoaning iOS 7’s skinny fonts and poor contrast.   So imagine the frustration and bewilderment  of the average user!

So, of course we don’t want things to stay the same forever.  But isn’t there a more palatable way to  present change?  Something more forgiving and flexible?  If only there were some way to gradually introduce changes, or to supply some hand-holding during the adaptation phase.  Hmmm…

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