New iPhone models to go on sale Friday morning, days after iOS 7 release

September 19, 2013

Apple on Wednesday released its newest mobile operating system, the iOS 7. The system contains several major differences from previous versions, including changes to the interface and the privacy settings:

This is certainly a divisive update — things have changed a lot and look much different than what Apple users expect to see. There are simply going to be users who don’t like the new font, or the brighter color palette or the flatter look of the system.

A lot of those are subjective, though concerns that certain icons or fonts may be too difficult to read at a glance are understandable. If being able to read things on the iPhone is a big problem for you, consider heading to the “General” settings menu and adjusting the font size.

One feature that some may find particularly helpful is the option to turn on automatic app updates, though the iTunes & App Store menu, so that you won’t have to authorize the free updates that come with apps you already have. That’ll save you some trips into the App Store app, which should make Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) happy, for one.

Many of the changes Apple has designed to make things simpler — something the company has accomplished for the most part, though it will take some time to adjust.

Clarity, after all, is what Apple has said drives its design philosophy for this system.

Hayley Tsukayama

Demand for the iOS 7 overwhelmed Apple’s servers at some points on Wednesday. Those failures were a result of Apple’s corporate structure, Timothy Lee writes:

Running online services is hard, but it’s not that hard. For example, Google has a much better track record. Apple’s outages are often measured in hours, while Google’s are more likely to be measured in minutes. Recent Apple outages have affected 1 to 3 percent of users. One of Google’s most serious outages affected 0.02 percent of users. . . .

Google organizes its engineers into many small teams and gives each team the resources and autonomy they need to make sure their corner of Google’s vast software infrastructure will be efficient and reliable. Google executives avoid micromanaging their employees. Instead, they obsessively measure everything they can, and hold teams responsible for their performance.

This decentralized approach is a liability when it comes to user interface design. With engineering decisions being made from the bottom up, there is often no one to make sure that Google apps have simple, consistent interfaces. As a result Google apps are often cluttered and confusing.

Apple takes the opposite approach, starting with the user experience and working backward toward technical decisions. Apple CEO John Scully has said that “the designers are the most respected people in the organization. Everyone knows the designers speak for Steve because they have direct reporting to him.”

That kind of hierarchical structure, with engineers subordinate to designers, can produce beautiful, user-friendly products. Designers can intensively test the user-facing aspects of a new product, making sure that the software feels responsive, that menus and buttons are logically organized, and that an entire product has a consistent visual vocabulary.

But this kind of top-down, design-focused testing isn’t going to uncover problems with network services. A system that might work flawlessly with a thousand users can grind to a halt with 10 million. Making engineers subordinate to designers may make it difficult for engineering teams working in the depths of Apple’s infrastructure to get the time, autonomy, and resources they need to make their services bullet-proof before they’re released to the masses.

Timothy Lee

Meanwhile, many devoted customers of Apple are preparing to buy the company’s new iPhone models, which will go on sale Friday at 8 a.m.:

Diehards will have already dusted off their lawn chairs, and now those happy to wait longer for new devices, or who aren’t interested in them, know when to steer clear of the line at the Apple store.

It’s a little hard to measure how big the crowds will be for grabbing up the iPhone 5s and the mid-range iPhone 5c. The company started selling pre-orders of the iPhone 5c last Friday, but unlike other years has not released any information on how well the phone did in its first weekend of pre-sales.

The break from tradition prompted concerns that Apple hasn’t sold enough of the phones to brag about. And on Monday the company’s stock slid below its 200-day moving average, at one point dropping close at $450.12. But shares were back up over 1 percent on Tuesday, at about $457.69 a share in midday trading.

And CNET has shared a report from the Chinese site Sina Tech that reservations — spots reserved in lines at Apple stores — for nearly all models of the iPhone 5s have already sold out at the company’s Beijing store. Only the reservations for the “space gray”-colored version of the iPhone 5s, the report said, are still available.

Hayley Tsukayama

Analysts’ predictions for Apple’s sales this weekend range from 5 million to 8 million units.

Max Ehrenfreund is a blogger on the Financial desk and writes for Know More and Wonkblog.
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