iOS 7 is the Frankenstein's monster of the smartphone world
14th Jun 2013 | 16:29
Is it iOS, Android or pretend iOS - or all three?
Hey Apple fans, what's new? No, seriously: what is new with iOS 7?
In the absence of a new iPhone Cupertino had to give us all something to drool over when it launched iOS 7, rebooting our iPads and iPhones into sparkling new devices, covered in Jony Ive-juice.
Thing is, I've seen it all before – and not because I was invited to Cupertino for a sneak preview. I've been seeing this stuff for years. A bit like The Oracle in the Matrix. And just like that movie, all I had to do was plug into a computer.
The vitriol between Apple and Android fans is at an all-time high, as each defends their own sacred brand against charges of ripping the other off. It's all very tribal, and nobody is going to win that argument because the other side will never entertain the thought that their favoured OS is a knock off.
OK, OK, so, the aesthetics of iOS 7 are a pleasant novelty – Ive is famed for his appreciation of simplicity - but the actual bones of the system is all stuff we've seen many times before.
Of course, by we, I mean jailbreakers. For the legion of fans who think multitasking with cards is an Apple creation: it's not. I've been using Auxo for a while. SB Settings and Activator have been saving me swipes for years, allowing me to toggle things on and off, and now Apple has deigned to give this functionality to the average user through Control Center.
As for flat icons, there's been no shortage along these lines on Cydia since forever. Difference is, you can have as many variations of the flat icons as you like that way. Not flat enough? Not a problem.
Apple needs to admit that it's just gone in and nabbed all the good ideas from jailbreakers, thrown some translucent sheen on, and pretended that it was all invented in Cupertino.
There's a certain amount of hypocrisy here: Steve Jobs threatened to go thermonuclear on Google because he felt Android was a stolen product.
Yet Apple took the idea of the notification center from Android. And Google nabbed it from the iOS jailbreak community. Are you sensing why I'm so bored of seeing all these things?
And what's this multitasking with cards? That's blatantly lifted from Palm's defunct WebOS. Or maybe it's not classed as stealing if you're picking the pockets of a dead man.
Apple likes you to think that jailbreakers are the scum of the earth, soiling an otherwise untainted product line. But the division appears to be getting weaker. Cupertino's hired (or tried to hire) many a Cydia-loving dev and brought them on board to make its OS better, and never has that been more apparent than in iOS 7.
That's not to say Apple hasn't done a good job, giving them a lick of paint and making them a core part of the OS. But no matter how much decoration you put on them, they're not original ideas.
Jonny Ive is a great designer. But if you think he's invented a lot of what you see on iOS 7, you're fooling yourself. That system has more authors than a literary festival.
Some say Apple has run out of innovation. I've certainly lost count of the amount of one-time Apple die-hards I've spoken to who are now jumping (or have already jumped) to the HTC One or Galaxy S4.
But Apple is getting back to what it's good at: not innovating, but taking what's out there, and improving and refining it. The colour vomit of iOS 7 aside, it's actually pretty easy to use (although I can see myself hating the animations that flick between apps in the same way I've grown to loathe them on Windows Phone).
So yes: iOS 7 could be seen as a Frankenstein's monster, taking choice cuts from of a number of platforms and plopping them together. Except this monster would grace the cover of a glossy magazine, rather than being run out of town by the villagers. Who cares if you're new when you can be beautiful?
I've reviewed dozens of phones and tablets for TechRadar over the years – each time putting them through their paces in the most unbiased, rigorous way possible.
But as well as being a professional, I have a love/hate relationship with tech, and that's what these columns are all about: the passionate howlings of a true fanboy. Tell me why I'm right, wrong or a hopeless idiot in the comments below or by tweeting @techradar or @phillavelle.