Much has been made about Apple's new OS for its mobile devices. It's said to be clean, efficient, flat, and a step down a path blazed by other smartphone makers. Some people love it, others hate it.
I've landed somewhere in between, but the more I use it the more I'm leaning towards the "love it" side.
I've got iOS 7 loaded up on my iPad and I've been playing with it for a few days. The biggest problem I had with the new interface was finding Search. (Hint: You don't swipe all the way to the right like you use to. Now you swipe down from the center of any screen. Much more convenient. Search results are clearer too.)
iOS 7 is like a new pair of jeans. It's a bit rough wearing them at first, but pretty soon they become pliable, faded and comfortable, and you forget all about the original stiffness and that harsh new-blue color. The OS is easier to use in so many little ways that the accumulative effects of which results in me feeling like I have a new iPad. Like the way Multitask works.
When you double click the home button, the Multitasker comes up as before, but now it shows you the screens of the apps currently running, and it focuses on the ones you've recently used. I can swap back and forth by double-click then tap. It not a lot different than how it worked before, but the subtle changes makes it a lot more efficient.
While the freshness is appealing I believe the real goodness of iOS 7 will be seen when developer make use of all those new APIs Apple mentioned during the Worldwide Developer's Conference earlier this year. In fact, some app makers are already offering iOS 7 only enhancements in their apps.
Pangea, for instance, makes a boatload of games for iOS and they've just announced some enticing upgrades including the use of speech synthesis and game controllers.
With speech synthesis, in app announcements are possible. Pangea has uses this to enhance game tutorials.
Games controller enhancements lets you use hardware controllers. It's true that game controller for iOS have been around for a while, but the code behind the hardware were hacks to make iOS do something it wasn't designed to do. iOS 7's new game controller APIs makes it much easier to add third party hardware controllers to any game, thus making games like Air Wings and Cro-Mag Rally a lot more fun to play. Expect to see and hear a lot more about this in the near future.
Not everyone will be happy with the changes in Apple's mobile OS. There are folks who'll chaff at the near spartan look of calendars, for instance. Not me, I like the no-nonsense feel. But if you're someone who'd rather use a more familiar looking calendar or just want something a bit less clinical then I've got a three apps that you might be interested in.
So lets get to it.
Cal: Calendar for Living [20.2 MB, all iOS devices iOS 6.0 or later, Maker: Any.DO Inc]
Time management has always been a problem for me. For some reason I refused to use the tools available to me to help. It took a bit of doing, but I've managed to get myself used to using calendars to schedule even the most mundane things like logging my time, washing the dishes, and so on. I'm finding that if I don't allocate the time to do a task I'll push it off and it won't get done. So, I look for calendar apps that make entering events easy. Cal from Any.DO is like that.
Swipe down for month view
Tap the "+" to create a new event and start typing in the details. If I'm entering, "Meet Bryan..." the app brings up a search result from my Contacts. I tap the Bryan I want to meet with and his contact info is added to the event, but under the covers. When I'm done with the details Cal will ask me if I want to send Bryan a meeting invitation. I answer and it's done. It also automagically creates an alert 15 minutes ahead of the meeting time. You can adjust this, of course, but it's nice to have it done for you.
Enter events is easy with Cal
Cal looks different too. It has a clean interface, but not so severe. Photos and animations can be displayed in the background if you like that sort of thing. Displaying a month is a simple down-swipe. Go back to day/week view with an up-swipe. Move through the weeks or months with left and right swipes.
There are no ads, but you do have to create an account to get the calendar working with other apps from Any.DO. They currently have a todo app and plans to produce other apps. Take a look at Cal. You might like what you see.
Calendars by Readdle [28.1 MB, all iOS devices iOS 6.0 or later, Maker: Igor Zhadanov]
If Apple's Calendar isn't efficient enough for you then Calendars from Readdle may suit you.
Here no-nonsense is taken to the extreme. Get to any view with a tap. Tap the "+" to enter a new event. This app won't search your contacts for you and I couldn't find a way to send invitations, which is disappointing. It is, however, location aware and it will include destination info in the event.
No Contact search, but location aware
One thing I do like is that Calendars will let you choose how you are alerted. I like getting SMS alerts. Email and badge alerts are also options. If you want more options, like integration with other Readdle apps and natural language input, you can pay for upgrades, but as it is Calendars is a capable app.
Staring at a screen full of dates is boring, and you may not really need events scheduling, you may just want the time and date, maybe a timer and a stopwatch. And weather would be nice too. An you want it to look Victorian, not Star Trekish. You want Vintage Time.
If you like dials, springs, buttons and lots of metal then you're in for a treat. Vintage Time delivers all the features I've mentioned in a wonderfully quaint setting.
Big dials show time, stopwatch and timer functions. Smaller dials give date and weather info. Even the help feature is heavy metal as it is lowered by chain to show how to use the different features. Fun!
Vintage Time is ad supported, which ruins the look, and some features, like alarms, are broken. Upgrades fixes both.
If you can put up with the ads and broken bits Vintage Time might be worth a look.
And that's a wrap for this week, but that's not all.
Future medical practitioners will want to grab The Human Body by Tiny Bop. It's this week's Free App of the Week. Music lovers can download this week's free Single of the Week from NoNoNo, Pumpin Blood. And check out the behind the scenes video too.