How I (nearly) fell out of love with Apple

I am not by nature what you would call an early adopter of technology. So it was only a few months ago, quite a while after Apple introduced the latest version of their operating system, that I obeyed the little light on my iPad and upgraded.

And got rather a nasty shock.

Nor was I alone. If you don’t believe me, search for “IoS 7 nasty”, “IoS 7 ugly”, “IoS abominable” or similar. “Too white, too bright and just horrible” was one typical opinion from the negative end. In fairness, polls have shown that at least half Apple’s users liked the new version; but a lot didn’t, and that included me.

There were several general complaints that I went along with. Most obviously, the depth cues have been removed, and replaced with a parallax effect that some users claimed gave them migraines or seasickness: I didn’t try it enough to see if I had that effect, but I certainly didn’t like it. The new design, interface and apps, features lots (and lots) of bright white space, which I find at best serves no purpose, and at worst makes things difficult to read. Wallpaper and icons have been changed to a look which one commentator, reasonably in my view, described as ‘kindergarten garish’. On at least some devices, customised wallpaper and images are distorted out of recognition. I could go on, but you get the idea.

What made it all worse is that Apple is the company that thinks it always knows best. So, no you can’t customise any of look and feel, as you can on other tablets; and, no, once you’ve upgraded you can’t go back. This caused a lot of angst among Apple fans, who’d always trusted that Apple really did know best, and couldn’t feel that way anymore. Not a few suggested that Steve Jobs would never have allowed it, if he’d still been with us. And some sadly said that they didn’t love their iPads any more.

IoS7 icons: love them or .. hmm
IoS7 icons: love them or .. hmm

I felt that way for a short while, and then decided to fight back. So, for anyone in this situation, I modestly offer these solutions; they work on the iPad mini, I can’t say about other devices.

First, damage limitation. Turn off ‘motion’ in settings; this removes the migraine/seasickness threat. Then remove all Apple wallpapers, and replace them with something dark-toned and fairly abstract to avoid distortion; star-fields and seascapes work well. Delete the garish icons, and move any that can’t be deleted off pages you use.

Then we can start to get more positive. Consider replacing any Apple or third party apps that have the unpleasing new look by alternatives. My real find here was the Coast browser: designed specifically for the iPad, this is a lovely piece of software, and finding it was worth the temporary unpleasantness. Apple’s notes and the Twitter app were both rendered largely unusable for me by the amount of extraneous white space, and I replaced them by Sticky, SimpleMind and Echofon.

So now I’m happy again with my iPad for now. But I share the views of those who feel wary about Apple products, in a way they didn’t in the past. I’m not sure how much longer Apple can stick to offering take-it-or-leave-it interfaces, when such a significant number of their users are inclined to leave it. It may not be a coincidence that Apple have dropped from 2nd to 14th in a popularity table of British brands, below Microsoft and Google. It seems the days when any company, however, well-regarded can refuse to allow interface personalisation, or at least a choice of theme, are gone.

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