updated 07:39 am EDT, Wed June 26, 2013
Does iOS 7 work the same magic on iPad as it does the iPhone?
Apple's iOS 7 beta is now available for the iPad after a two week delay since its debut at WWDC. It brings with it all the same UI enhancements and design themes from the iPhone version to the iPad, but some of these have been translated to the larger iPad and iPad mini displays differently. In many ways, seeing the new transitions and animations on a larger display also helps to amplify the comprehensive design changes that Apple has implemented across its latest mobile operating system.
The key differentiator between Apple's iPads and its iPhones is the way that iPad apps use the available display area. This was something that Apple critics did not fully appreciate when the first iPad launched in 2010. Many apps made specifically for the iPad have approached their desktop brethren for functionality. Apple has continued with this approach in iOS 7 with all of the built-in apps getting a redesign and enhanced functionality, taking the ethos of maximizing display utilization even further. It remains a key differentiator between the iPad and Android, which continues to be hampered by a limited number of apps that are designed specifically for a larger tablet interface.
As with iOS 7 for the iPhone, the new Control Center and revised Notification Center have been implemented on the new iPad. A swipe from the bottom reveals the new Control Center, replacing the double tap on the home button, followed by a swipe to the right to reveal a more limited set of 'quick access' functions. As with iOS 7 on the iPhone, iPad users can now enjoy quick access to Airplane mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb and the screen orientation lock, as well as media controls, and brightness settings. Also included is quick access to the Clock and Camera apps, as well as AirDrop file sharing and AirPlay. However, missing from iOS 7 for iPad is quick access to a flashlight (no iPad is fitted with one), or quick access to the Calculator. Notifications Center, however, works in exactly the same way and is a significant improvement over the version of Notification Center in iOS 6 on the iPad.
One of the revamped apps I was most interested in seeing on the iPad is the new Music app. It now has a new, much cleaner and easy to use interface. The music controls and volume appear near the top of the display with the new layout a big improvement over the old -- the controls are now more closely placed and easier to tap. Selection of the albums, artists and playlists is still at the bottom, but with the 'buttons' now replaced simply by a label. I'm not sure how effective this approach is, as the target tap area seems smaller as there is no apparent 'button' to press. Overall though, like most of the new touches like more complete multitasking in iOS 7, it is a winner.
As expected, the other built-in apps make full use of the additional display space, perhaps even more so than previous versions iOS for the iPad. Apple had said that it had worked hard on this aspect of iOS 7 for the iPhone, which makes perfect sense on a device with a display limited to 4-inches. It is just an added bonus on the iPad. The leaner, cleaner more roomy interfaces can be seen in the look and layout of apps like Notes, Reminders, Mail, Calendar, and Contacts. Safari also looks much less cluttered, but does not take quite the same advantage of the screen real estate as it does on Safari on iOS 7 for the iPhone (at least in the current beta version for the iPad). Where the new unified URL field in iOS 7 for the iPhone recedes to minimum increasing the view of each webpage, it currently remains static in this build of iOS 7 for the iPad.
Overall, iOS 7 for the iPad is shaping up very well and promises to be just as exciting for iPad users as it is for iPhone users. The new look continues to impress in many areas, including the new animations and transitions, which look slick and more seamless. Keen observers will also have noticed the new icon design for PhotoBooth as well, which is in keeping with the new, more contemporary flatter design theme for iOS 7. As I have noted with iOS 7 for the iPhone, the latest version of iOS for the iPad is brings with it a lot more than just a flashy new design language, it also brings a lot of useful and functional feature enhancements that will help to keep Apple at the top of the tablet market.
[Update] Portrait mode screen grabs added.
By Sanjiv Sathiah