Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

What Part of “Beta” Does Farhad Manjoo Not Understand?

Farhad Manjoo, Slate:

It’s been almost a week since I installed Apple’s new mobile operating system on my iPhone 5. (You can get iOS 7 if you’re an iOS developer, or if a kind developer registers your iPhone with Apple. Beware: The OS is still in beta phase, so it’s annoyingly buggy.) Because the software is clearly a work in progress, I’ve tried to give it every benefit of the doubt, and I expect that a lot of it will be improved by the time it’s launched publicly in the fall. At this point, though, I’m puzzled by iOS 7.

Are you really doing this? A review of iOS 7, several months before it is due to be released in a currently-unfinished state, while flouting the non-disclosure agreement?

Manjoo addresses the latter point on Twitter:

@BodyofBreen @drm510 @Slate Which part of “beta” do you find difficult to understand? (I did not sign an NDA.)

Looks like he paid some money to have his UDID registered.

And what part of “beta” does Manjoo not understand, for that matter? It’s not a Google “beta”; it’s an honest-to-goodness unfinished piece of software for development purposes only.

Manjoo doesn’t even know what his own point is:

Take one of the biggest design innovations in iOS 7, the use of translucent interface “layers” that pile on top of one another. When you look at the home screen, you’ll see two different planes—a layer of app icons on top, and beneath that a layer of wallpaper. You don’t know they’re two layers until you angle your phone; when you do, you’ll notice the top layer of icons shift against the bottom layer of wallpaper, creating the effect of parallax. Then swipe down from the top of the screen to bring down iOS’s Notification Center. In old iOS, this pane was opaque, carrying the texture of faux linen; all such textures have been removed in iOS 7. Now the Notification Center is another translucent plane—just behind it, you can see your app icons, like you’ve brought down a piece of frosted glass over your home screen.

Got that? The redesign has clarified the layers of iOS.

OK, so? How do these planes improve how your phone works? They don’t. The parallax effect is an innovation Ron Popeil of Ronco might prize—it will look great in ads, but on your own phone, having your icon shift position as you move your screen feels gimmicky, purposeless, and mildly irritating. It smacks of unnecessary ornamentation, calling into question Apple’s iOS 7’s marketing copy: “We don’t add features simply because we can, because it’s technologically possible.”

The parallax home screen helped Manjoo understand that the new iOS is made of layers. At the same time, he claims it’s “purposeless”. Are you kidding me?

If Manjoo had an interest in remedying the problems he finds in iOS 7, he’d file a radar. I’d be willing to bet you a MacBook Air that, as of posting time, he hasn’t filed a single bug report.