This review also appeared on the Tekserve Blog.
Do you remember the first iPhone, back when it ran the “iPhone OS” because nothing else existed to run it? It had 16 icons, one home screen, no search, no app store, no copy/paste, no music over bluetooth. For the past six years, Apple has slowly gone down the list and added feature after feature, taking what we now know as iOS from being a very nice phone operating system, to a real, usable, day to day OS. But sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same. Many accused iOS of becoming stale, of looking like last decade’s OS. Following some dramatic changes within the company, Apple finally showed the world iOS 7 this past June. After a few months of playing with the betas (I am a legit, registered developer), I am ready to say that iOS 7 is easily my favorite computer operating system ever. Not just mobile OS, favorite OS ever. Is it perfect? No. Will it improve even more in the future? Of course! But right now, this is just the update we needed.
Make no mistake, iOS 7 is first and foremost a visual overhaul. Every corner of the look and feel has been refreshed. Gone are the skeuomorphic textures of past systems. iOS 7 is clean, clear, and concise. You will know iOS 7 when you see it.
So much digital ink has been spilled discussing skeuomorphic design, specifically related to Apple. To catch you up if you have not been reading – skeuomorphic design takes an ornimental visual component from one object where it is usually required, and adds it to a more modern object where it is not. In the software world this translates to bringing the analog world into the digital. In iOS specifically, the Calendar app on the iPad is a perfect example. The app features a stitched leather binding, complete with torn pages at the top. Obviously there is no paper involved in a digital calendar.
Whether skeuomorphic design is good or bad has been a raging debate. It’s supporters will contest that it is beneficial to users, especially new users, by giving them a familiar interface to use an unfamiliar system. After all, humans exist in a real, physical world, and our brains are built to respond to these sort of stimuli. Detractors counter that skeuomorphic design is unnecessarily, ugly, and actually reduces functionality by artificially constraining software to physical space. Usually this ends with skeuomorphic that sometimes behaves like a real object (pages flipping in a book) but with random bits of pure digital functionality (links in books that immediately flip to another section). Finally, skeuomorphic design can often look ugly and overworked, even cheesy. Apple’s Game Center app features a wood border with a green felt table with your apps floating in as cards dealt from a deck. It is a bit much.
This tension in design has been on full display at Apple in recent years. On the hardware side was Jonathan Ive, the man responsible for virtually all the hardware design at Apple since the late 90s. The iPhone is the perfect example of this. It is clean, visually uncluttered, and free of any unnecessary visual components. Other the other side was Scott Forstall, in many ways the father of iOS. It is said that Steve Jobs himself preferred Forstall’s real world design metaphors. But following Job’s death and Forstall’s departure, Ive was put in charge of software design as well. iOS 7 is the result.
Flat, in a 3D Kind of Way
To be clear, in the new OS, skeuomorphism is dead. Dead and buried in an unmarked grave. No more leather, no more wood, no more felt. The new design is often designed as flat. Flat UI is all the rage right now. It has been championed, oddly enough, by Microsoft. The user interface formerly known as Metro was an early example of a flat system that did not attempt to recreate any real world object. This interface has been successfully used on the Xbox, and somewhat less successfully in Windows 8 (both the desktop and phone varieties).
While the icons of iOS 7 no longer have their 3D curves, it is not quite right to call iOS 7 flat. In fact, it may in some ways be the most 3D version of the OS yet. But rather than surfaces that pop out at you, iOS 7 adds depth behind what you are doing. In previous versions of the operating system, the glass on the front of the phone was simply the control surface. In iOS 7, the glass serves as your window into a world. The apps float above the background thanks to the much cooler than expected parallax effect. As you move your device, the background moves slightly in tandem, creating a much more pleasing 3D effect than an actual 3D screen like on Nintendo’s handheld. Each tap into a folder or app brings you further into the iOS world. Notifications seem to hover over the glass, rather than popping up from underneath. The combined effect is one that draws you in. It’s not skeuomorphic, but in a way, it feels even more natural.
iOS 7, in its drive to remove the overly physical look of real world objects in favor of the pure digital, has basically removed buttons. Commands such as Back, Edit, and others are now simple text links. Will this confuse users? Perhaps. Although I am inclined to think that most people will be able to figure out that the word “back” will take you back.
The real reason for this change however is that gestures now play far greater importance than before. Swiping to the right in a Messages conversation, for example, takes me back to the list of conversations. It’s a far more natural way of navigating once you get used to it. The only issue is that is is not ubiquitous yet. Sometimes when I swipe, nothing happens. This may be the epitome of a first world problem, but it will be nice once they can work out the when and where of this gesture, as well as third party developers.
The swipe gesture was there before of course. You could always swipe right over a message in Mail to reveal a delete button. And you still can do this, except now you swipe left. Yes, they reversed this gesture. Probably to differentiate it from the back gesture, which is fine, but week of using this and I still sometimes make the mistake and go the other way. Doh!
The flattened icons are just one of many changes to the home screen in iOS 7. The aforementioned parallax effect gives a sense of motion to what has up until now been a very static screen. One step further than that are the dynamic backgrounds that Apple now includes in addition to the standard set of stills. These backgrounds actually move behind the home screen, again adding to the feel of looking through the glass at a world underneath. Right now these are limited to a handful of colors with what appear to be very slow moving bubbles. I am hoping that more options appear soon, or better yet, the ability to purchase backgrounds from other developers in the App Store.
Spotlight search has been evicted from its space to the left of the first home screen (which it has had since iOS 3) and is now available on every home screen on the device simply by swiping down on the screen. But careful not to start ALL THE WAY at the top because that will pull down the notification center. I have to admit that on the first day I installed iOS 7, I had to go Google how to bring down Spotlight. This is one of the changes that while it becomes second nature once you do it once, I foresee many users bring initially stumped by this one. It is something iOS 7 will undoubtedly continue to wrestle with as we go forward; when is a gesture enough? Buttons have mostly vanished in iOS 7. Spotlight’s lack of visual cues may have the unfortunate side effect of relegating the feature to the power users column. Time will tell.
Speaking of that Notification Center, it is still there, but is laid out entirely different. Yes, the satin background is gone from here as well. Now, upon swiping down from the top of the screen, the home screen blurs into the background (we are now directly on top of the glass in our 3D world metaphor) and we are presented with three different tabs of information. The “All” tab in the middle, which contains, you guessed it, all our notifications. The “Missed” tab shows notifications we, well, missed. At least those in the last 24 hours anyway.
Perhaps the most interesting is the “Today” tab. Today has taken the place of the previous weather, stocks, and calendar bars in previous iterations of Notification Center. Today presents us with the date, weather (in paragraph form rather than graphic), directions to your next location (more on that in a moment), calendar, reminders, and a summary of tomorrow. It even includes any alarms that you have set, which actually came quite in handy on my last day off, as I had forgotten to disable my normal morning alarm.
Next location you ask? How does it know this? Well, your iPhone kind of knows where you go, and in iOS 7 it can, OPTIONALLY, record this information to know more about your daily routine. My iPhone now knows where I live and work, and notices my schedule. Before leaving work, Notification Center will show me the estimated travel time to get home. And that is cool. The less cool part is that it only supports driving directions, and as a New Yorker, I never drive to work. Subway, absolutely. Bike, in nice weather definitely. But never drive. If the thought if this absolutely terrifies you, put the tin foil down, all you have to do is go to Settings: Privacy: Location Services: System Services (at the very bottom): Frequent Locations. Just turn it off.
Tapping on the weather summary goes straight to the new and improved Weather app. If the app looks familiar, then you must have downloaded the Yahoo Weather app. Yes, Yahoo actually set the standard here with a rather stunning app. Apple’s version trades Flickr photos for an animated background, complete with clouds, fog, rain, snow, and even lightening! The data is still provided by Yahoo, so the two apps share actual stats as well as design. My preference is still the Yahoo app, as it includes more information, including radar. But it is nice to see the old Tiger Dashboard Widget look go away. Remember Dashboard, anyone?
The only part of Notification Center we seem to have outright lost is the ability to quickly post to Facebook and Twitter. The old share buttons are nowhere to be found. Now you will have to go open the apps. Truth be told I rarely used this feature, but if you did, know that it is pining for the fjords in the new OS.
Finally. No really, FINALLY! I no longer need to tap three times to turn off WiFi. The new Control Center is accessed by turning the Notification Center swipe upside down. By this I mean swipe up from the bottom. Control Center gives you one tap access to Airplane Mode, WiFi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, and Rotation Lock. No more going to settings to turn on and off these features. While I wish I could actually access the WiFi settings from here, just being able to toggle it on and off so quickly is a huge upgrade.
Even better is screen brightness. In previous versions this was possible on the iPad, but the iPhone and iPod touch required you go all the way to settings to brighten or dim the screen. Now it is right there, one swipe away. This has come in handy when I do drive (even though I don’t drive to work, yes I do drive sometimes) and need to change my GPS brightness lest I be blinded.
Music controls are here, including volume. Any standard audio app will work. And finally access to the camera, timer, calculator (on iPhones and iPod touches) and a brand new flashlight app. It does exactly what you think, turns on the LED light to help you find your way in the dark. So no more need to dig through your 8 home screens to find the free flashlight app you downloaded that time, the one with all the ads in it. Its right there.
AirDrop and AirPlay can be accessed from here. AirDrop is new, and I will talk about it later. AirPlay was always hard to find (double tap, then swipe right, no your other right), so being front and center makes it much easier to turn on and off.
Both Notification Center and Control Center are accessible in full from the lock screen, even if you have a passcode. You can disable this if you like.
When Apple first added folders in iOS 4, I figured they were adding it just for me. Me, who discovered just how many pages one could have as I literally overloaded my home screens with apps. Nine swipes to the left to get to that game was about six too many. So with folders, I could combine and categorize apps that did not need to be one tap away, but where two was fine. I could finally have all my social network apps on my first home screen, in a folder called – wait for it – Social!
But the folders had their limits. Twelve apps was all an iPhone could have in a folder (the iPhone 5 got 16, thanks extra 1/2 inch of screen!) But what if I had more apps? I have 5 folders labeled Games.
iOS 7 finally removes the limit on the number of apps in a folder. Now the folder acts like a mini home screen. Swipe left and right to move between pages. Add more apps and another pages is added. It is perfect. Well it would be except for one thing. The new folders are limited to showing nine apps at a time, no matter how large the screen is. This looks somewhat silly on my longer iPhone 5, and downright comical on my 10 inch iPad. Its a waste of space that really could be better utilized.
Multitasking started off as a dirty word on iOS. In an attempt to save battery and very limited resources on the early devices, apps were prohibited from running in the background. Apple’s own apps were always permitted, but nothing else. This did avoid an issue that used to plague previous smartphones. I remember my Palm Treo 650 becoming very unstable and not making a day on battery if I was not careful about what apps were running. Yes, apps existed before the iPhone, we just called them “software back then”, and they were hard to install, and expensive, and often glitchy. But I digress.
This lead to a lot of problems for power users, and even regular users. I remember losing run data because a phone call caused Runkeeper to quite as it was forced to shut down the moment another app came to the foreground. And if I wanted to listen to Pandora while running, too bad. It was one or the other. My instant messenger app had to send me emails that I had a message because the app had no idea that it was receiving anything. It was a difficult time.
To address this Apple slowly began adding background processes to iOS. In iOS 3 we got push notifications, which let some apps receive messages when not running, like the IM example above. In iOS 4, we finally got the ability to have more than one thing going on at a time. Music, GPS, VoIP, and some downloads were allow to continue when their apps were exited. At least for a while.
But the missing piece was the ability for apps to simply wake up, update their data, download, and prepare themselves for my use. We got a small amount of this in iOS 5 in Newsstand. Newsstand apps such as newspapers and magazines could download in the background without my intervention. My New York Times was there, ready to go in the morning, even if I forgot to open it before getting on to the subway. But no other apps could do this.
Until iOS 7! Now, apps will be able to silently wake up, update, and go back to idle all without my input. This will happen in a very smart way. Rather than all apps running all the time, they will check in at specific times and triggers. Do you download podcasts every morning? Well the app knows this and will be able to preempt you and download before you even need to think about it. Push notifications will also be able to trigger downloads.
At the time of this writing, very few third party apps can do this. But expect to see plenty in the coming weeks. I cannot tell you how many times I would forget to update my Instapaper articles before I leave work, only to find myself on the subway with no connection and nothing to read. No longer. Now my articles will be there waiting for me.
The look of the multitasking interface has completely changed as well. You still get there by double tapping the home button. Instead of the row of icons on linen (out, damn linen) apps now present preview windows so you can see what the app is actually doing, or at least what it looks like. Quitting is now done with a simple swipe up gesture, which is far more satisfying than the tap, hold, and press the tiny tiny button to quit that we had before. The music controls are now in Control Center, and as such, are no longer in multitasking.
If you do need to eek out every last ounce of battery life that you can, it should be noted that you can disable either individual apps, or all apps in total from background updates in the Settings app.
I am still amazed by how far cameras in phones have come in the last decade. When I look at photos I was taking 10 years ago, it is painful. Even my totally awesome and futuristic Treo 650 had a barely acceptable camera that produced images that now look like they came from the early days of the existence of the camera. An entire 5 year stretch of my life looks like someone spilled coffee on the photo album. Now I can take my phone a grab a poster quality image, edit it, and post it on my blog just with my thumbs.
Both the Camera app and the Photos app have gotten updates. The Camera now uses gestures (go figure) to change modes between photos, videos, panorama, and square photos. Apparently the roughly 5000 apps that take square photos with filters was not enough, and Apple now built this directly to the camera. Instagram it is not, but hey, why not?
The swipe gestures are actually really great. The Camera app started out so pure and simple, but got overloaded with switches, buttons, and difficult to comprehend modes. Now everything is front and center. One tap turns on HDR. A slide to the right changes to video. It is much more fluid.
More impressive is the Photos app. Most people don’t think about organizing their photos. I do, but I am an insane geek who somehow still has time to think about these kind of things. I get that the rest of you do not. So rather than force you to, the Photos app now uses the data it already has embedded in the photo, GPS and time, and automatically creates a beautiful timeline of your memories.
Remember that trip to Paris? Photos does, and it automatically arranges them as such. You can zoom in and out from specific date views to year views.
And if you want to share photos with others, the shared photostream feature now includes an activity screen that shows you recent photos and comments. Its like your own personal social network between you and your friends. Carlos Danger take note! (As a resident of the former 9th congressional district of New York, I get to make that joke).
Sharing is caring. Unless you really don’t need to share with everyone on Facebook, or if what you are trying to share is really large (like a video) and can’t email or text it, AirDrop is there to help you out. Named after the similar feature in Mac OS X, AirDrop enables you to share information wirelessly with those nearby, without needing to know complicated networking things like subnets and IPv4 addresses.
AirDrop has three modes. Off (which means its off – but you probably figured that out), Contacts Only (meaning it only offers to share with people in your contacts – right again), and Everyone (which enables sharing with everyone – good job). Then I simply share a contact, document, or photo using the good old Share button (although the share button got a new suit since last we saw him in iOS 6) and send the file to other AirDrop users in the vicinity. The file never hits the public internet, and the data is encrypted to prevent snooping. If only Carlos Danger had known (that’s two).
Unfortunately for those of you with old devices, and by old I mean from last August, this feature only works on the very newest hardware. That means iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s, as well as iPad 4 and iPad mini. Anything else is a no go for AirDrop. I know, and I am there with you on my AirDropless iPad 3.
iOS 7 and the forthcoming Mac OS X Mavericks will have a new feature that will help create good, strong passwords for your web accounts and sync them across all your devices.
I wanted to review this, I was ready to review this, but I can’t. The feature was pulled at the last minute from the final release and is now “coming soon”. Yes I can review how it worked in the early betas, but it would be unfair to review a feature that is not yet complete. So I am deferring this one until it is finished.
What I will say is that while I did use it a little, I do not expect to be dropping my beloved 1Password any time soon. But anything that gets people to stop using passwords such as “password” or “password1” or “princesskitten” (you know who you are) will be a huge boon for security.
When John McCain had a chance to ask Tim Cook about Apple’s business practices in an appearance before Congress, he chose to take the opportunity to ask Tim why his iPhone always has so many updates for the apps. Turns out this was the most productive thing Congress did all year, because now you no longer need to see the big red number on the App Store letting you know how many apps are waiting for their updates.
In iOS 7, app updates apply themselves automatically. There are two reasons this is great. One is convenience. I don’t need to take time out of my life to update apps. Just update please, I trust you. The App Store will still show recent updates that it did apply, in case you want to see how many different ways the words “bug fixes” can be written.
More important than the convenience though is security. Many times the updates to these apps can be closing pretty serious security holes. If many users take weeks or longer to update, if ever, it can really open them up to danger (not Carlos, the real kind of danger – there we go, three, now it is out of my system).
You can turn this off if you want. But I think most people will enjoy the blissful unawareness of the fact that their software is receiving point point updates without them knowing. The only downside to this is that if an app were to have a bad update, and this has happened before, it could be pushed out to you even if you already know its a bad idea to update. Its too late. I only had an issue once, with the Moves app. Their release notes always say to remember to reopen the app after updating to make sure it does not pause its tracking. But I didn’t notice it updated for hours, and last quite a bit of data during that day.
A lot of us have spent the last two years referring to Siri as “she”. This was never the intention, and was especially strange for our friends in the UK, who had a male Siri voice on their devices. The seemingly random arrangement of Siri genders ends with iOS 7. Now the user will be able to choose between a female or male voice. The voices themselves have also been overhauled. Siri under iOS 7 is less robotic and much more natural sounding than the previous version.
It is an improvement, although I cannot help but feel ever so sad to see the old voice go. Say what you will, the old Siri voice had achieved a certain level of cultural icon status. So it is a little jarring to hear the new voices, even if they are objectively superior. Somewhat oddly, there is no option for a “classic” mode that retains the old sound.
Beyond the change in voice, Siri can FINALLY do things like turn on and off Bluetooth. He/She/It can also search the internet via Wikipedia, Twitter, and Bing. Yes, Bing. It has long rumored that Apple was looking to further break their ties with Google. With Siri, it is starting to happen. The 90s Mac user in me is still struggling to grasp that we now live in a world where Microsoft is only secondary competition for Apple, but this is the Wonderland in which we now find ourselves.
I like the new Siri voices myself. In terms of the new functionality, I continue to use Siri opportunistically. It came in handy last year during the Hershey Half Marathon. I was able to let my family know where on the course I was without needing to take the phone out of my armband. The rest of the time I really don’t use it all that much. I still get the occasional “sorry can’t take requests” error message, so there clearly is more work to be done here.
I lost the very first cell phone I ever owned in a cab a few months after I moved to New York. If only there was a service called “find my monochromatic flip phone” existed back at the turn of the century (is it time to start using that phrase yet?). Alas, the phone was never recovered. Fast forward to now and we at long last have the ability to track our lost property through the wonders of location services.
The problem with the current system is that it presents a choice. You can either wipe your device, removing personal information and keeping it from prying eyes. Or you can continue to track the phone and hope that the person on the other end decides to give you a call to return your missing property. But not both. Erase the phone and it’s over. You have just given a free factory settings phone to the thief.
Now you have a better choice. Erase the phone, but keep your iCloud account active to track it and hope for its eventual return. Even better though is the satisfaction that if you can’t use it, no one can. You can now lock down the ability to either erase or reactivate the phone. Unless you reclaim your property and enter your password, no one can use the phone. It’s a big hunk of metal and or plastic.
Unfortunately I have not been able to try this one myself, although I have recently had to use Find my iPhone. Looking forward to the extended peace of mind this will bring.
This feature is, well there really is no other way to describe it, just like the very popular Pandora Radio service. iTunes has actually had radio stations for as far back as I can remember. Apple once even had this in their advertising literature for the software. But these were simply recreations of terrestrial style radio. It did not have the smart adaptability that Pandora revolutionized.
Enter iTunes Radio. Simply choose a song, artist, or genre that you like and a station is built around it. You can tune the station to your liking by telling it when you do or do not like its choices, or skip a song altogether.
Best of all, iTunes keeps track of the songs that have played. So if you were out for a run and want to know what that song was that played 2 miles ago, now you can go back, preview, and of course buy that track. I actually have discovered a few new songs this way. And thanks to the wide range of iTunes content, you can easily get more than the standard top 40 stuff that you are probably already sick of. In fact, you can set a channel to be geared more toward discovery or popular songs.
The service is free for everyone, ad supported. If you are an iTunes match user, you are treated to ad free music. And that’s why I am going to use this service so much. I already pay for match, so no need to have another music subscription. It has been great so far. And given that input all my music in iTunes anyway it’s extra nice to have it already there.
For the IT Department
Have you heard of BYOD? It’s a lot like bring your own beer, except with your mobile device instead of beer. Well IT departments certainly know about it. It is the new way of managing your employee’s communications. Instead of buying them a device that the company owns, now you just use theirs. It saves the company money, and the employee from having to carry around a second device. Its a win/win. Well, except for the IT department.
Apple has taken great care to disallow someone taking their beautiful, functional devices and basically turning them into corporate drones. The “i” is for Me, Myself, and I. If the company does not outright own the equipment, they should not be able to command what it does right? But then how to protect all the sensitive data that will be coming across the device? This has been the delicate balancing act of our new modern world.
iOS 7 makes some important changes to help further manage the dual nature of your home/work phone. It is a little outside the scope of this review to get too much into it here. But new features such as per app VPN, Open In management, and better app volume purchasing will allow business to manage their own little corner of their staff’s mobile devices, without making themselves the overlords of all.
More More More
So much more going on in this update. Newsstand, previously a weird combination of folder and app, has now chosen for itself to act more like an app. Yes, you can finally place Newsstand into another folder. Still cannot delete the Apple apps, but you can more of less exile the ones you don’t use to further screens.
Two very important updates to the phone app. (Did you know your iPhone could place phone calls? Not from this review you couldn’t.) First, FaceTime calls can now be sans, well, facetime. Yes, you can make an audio call over a FaceTime connection. Why is this important? Well let’s say you take a trip to Paris and need to call your family back home. But you don’t want to pay the huge expense of international roaming. Well, now, so long as the person on the other end is also running iOS 7, just place the call to their normal phone number, but even though it is a FaceTime call, you can avoid having to actually look at the person you are calling. It’s a lot like Skype, except that for your possibly less tech savvy recipient, there is no app to download or account to set up. The call just comes from you as it normally would.
Second, you can now block calls and messages directly on your device. Perfect for spammers, scammers, and annoying relatives.
Perhaps the feature I am looking forward to the most, and currently these only exist in our hopes and dreams, is OS level support for game controllers. Let’s face it, some games need physical buttons. In the past, this meant that individual games would have to come up with their own, one off solutions. Not ideal. Now, a single game controller attached to your device can be used by any game in the App Store. I am really excited to see how this works out.
Hopes for 8
So what left is there to do? Well, never one who is easy to please, there are still some things we don’t have that I wish we did. A big one for me is the ability to set default apps. I don’t use Mail, opting instead for Dropbox’s excellent Mailbox. Similarly I use the Sunrise calendar in place of the built in calendar. Notes? Give me Evernote or give me, well, probably not death, but I would not be happy in a world without Evernote.
On the Mac this would be easy. I just check the box telling the system to use my preferred mail client in place of the default postage stamp one. But iOS has no such ability. If I want to be able to send an email from within an app, I have to set up the Mail app no matter what, since it is the only one that will open. Yes, some developers have taken it upon themselves to allow setting defaults within their own app, but this is a kludge, and means I have to keep setting my preferences over and over again. It would be much better to just set it once.
This goes hand in hand with Siri compatibility for third party apps as well. I want my to do lost in Omnifocus, not Reminders. Yes, workarounds exist here too, but it would be nice to no longer require them.
The system for sharing information between apps could also use an update. Right now developers must hand code sharing to other non-Apple apps. What would be great is a system wide setting to accept data sent from a different app. That way something like Evernote or Dropbox could be forever available for me to send data. No more emailing in, or copying and pasting.
Should you upgrade? Yes, absolutely yes. iOS 6 was great, but it was time for a fresh coat of paint. iOS 7 looks great, functions well, and is smooth and pleasing to look at. The new features will quickly become must haves, and not having them will annoy you. Control Center alone is worth the time it saves.
Having said that, check your apps. If you have mission critical apps that you cannot have fail, don’t upgrade until those developers give you the okay. Most apps work fine now, and so many are being updated as I type this that it is hard to even keep track.
Like any new system, there are some bugs and unstable moments. I have noticed this being a larger issue on my iPad than on my iPhone. The iPad beta actually came a few weeks late, so I am slightly surprised that it was not similarly delayed in release. My iPhone has also had a particularly annoying bug that would cause me to have to reboot it on occasion as it would otherwise become completely unresponsive. I have not been able to nail down the cause, and the lock ups have been rarer since iOS 7 hit Gold Master. But it is worth noting that your milage may vary here. If you are at all concerned, history tells us that we can expect a 7.0.1 to fix many of these initial issues very early on. I am well aware that not everyone wants, or needs, to be on the bleeding edge. It’s also a question of timing. If you are in the middle of a major project, or traveling, or otherwise engaged in other things, there is no harm in waiting a few weeks and then jumping in.
Otherwise it is worth it. If you fear change, understand that this is change. But change is often good, as this change is. There will be new things to learn, new things to get used to. But I think you will. And once you do, you will have the benefit of a truly modern system in the palm of your hand. Also, do not be surprised if a large number of apps start to require iOS 7 going forward. There is a lot in here that is different and cannot function on iOS 6. If you don’t upgrade, you may lose access to some apps.
Try it out first, but iOS 7 is something you need to live with day to day to truly appreciate. Its pretty for sure, but there is real power here. This is easily the best software Apple has ever produced. And in the short time that Ive has been in charge of this team, it is truly astounding. iOS 7 gets a big thumbs up from me.