Control Center

People hate iOS 7 so much, they’ve upgraded 200,000,000 devices to it since its release last Wednesday — double the upgrade pace iOS 6 enjoyed last year. I believe that makes it the most widely-used version of any mobile operating system.

Not bad for an OS that’s only five days old.

OK, it’s barking remarkable.

I’m pleased as punch with the performance improvements and enhancements over iOS 6. Nothing just appears; everything comes from or goes to some particular place as you touch or swipe the screen. That might seem a small thing, but it isn’t. You always know exactly where you are, how you got there, and what will happen with your next gesture. (Want to have fun with Android owners? Ask them what the Back button does. Almost every answer will begin with, “Well…”) In iOS 7 everything has a certain cause and a certain effect — everything is done with a purpose. The visual clues give your eyes memory, the way your fingers remember how to tie your shoes.

I was afraid my ancient iPad 3 would find its graphics co-processor — already running at Ludicrous Speed just to maintain the Retina Display — overwhelmed by all the new visual bells and whistles. But it still performs with all the speed and slickness you expect from an Apple mobile device. My son’s iPad mini handles iOS 7 just as nicely. My iPhone 5S won’t arrive until Thursday, but my two-year-old 4S feels faster, no joke.

The new Control Center (cribbed pretty shamelessly from Android, but turnabout and all that) is a great addition. I find it’s a little too easy to activate it when swiping up to scroll through web pages, but there’s a setting to disable it while you’re in apps, or also from the lock screen. Turn it off in apps/leave it on in Lock, seems to be the best combo for both me and my wife.

Siri is smarter. Last week, I could not for the life of me get her to understand that I wanted her to play Frank Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim’s recording of “One Note Samba.” “Siri, play ‘One Note Samba’,” I must have said a dozen times with perfect diction. Every time she’d reply, “I’m sorry, Stephen, but I can’t find one note somber.” And finally me shouting at my phone, “No! It’s samBA, samBA, samBA!” like a demented dance instructor.

I tried it again in the truck this morning, and instead of getting Siri’s error message, my reply was Frank singing, This is just a little samba, based upon a single note…. That’ll put a bounce in your step on a Monday morning.

Siri

iOS 7 is also more security-minded. As you go through the quick initial setup scheme, it will default to having a four-digit passcode. If you choose to turn it off, the OS will ask you if you’d like it to stop using autofill for your browser logins. Smart.

If you thought the camera was fast before, now it’s faster, and complete with HDR, Instagram-type filters, and other nifty new tricks. It’s the best camera I’ve ever used that didn’t say “Nikon” on it and pair with my shelf full of lenses. And remember, this is a two-year-old iPhone 4S we’re talking about here. I got all this new speed and functionality from a simple OS upgrade. Can’t wait to put the new 5S camera through its paces later this week.

Graphically, iOS 7 is hit or miss.