Today at Apple’s much-anticipated Developer’s Conference, WWDC, CEO Tim Cook announced iOS 7, “the most significant iOS update since the original iPhone.” iOS 7 is packed with new features, from a completely rethought design featuring new typography, brighter colors, and improved functionalities to additions to the iOS app family you’re going to love. Though earlier we live-blogged an overview of new iOS features, here we give you a more in-depth look at the changes coming to your iOS device this fall.
Devices running iOS 7 will feature Control Center. Simply swipe from the bottom of your screen to reveal access to controls for Airplane Mode, WiFi, Bluetooth, and or Do Not Disturb. You can also adjust your phone’s brightness and control music playback with buttons for pause, play, and next. Control Center also offers quick access to often-used apps like Clock, Camera, Calculator, and Flashlight.
In iOS 7 Notification Center will be available directly from the Lock screen, displaying all your notifications such as missed calls and recent emails. The new Today feature provides an at-a-glance view of the weather, traffic status, upcoming appointments, and your friends’ birthdays the day-of.
While previous versions of iOS gave multitasking access only to certain apps, iOS 7 will enable developers to enable background multitasking for any app with Apple’s new API. iOS 7 does this without losing battery performance by measuring how you use your apps and, accordingly, using intelligent scheduling to update your running apps in the background. iOS will also respond to push triggers so your most-used apps are always up-to-date.
A music streaming service called “iRadio” similar to Pandora’s was long-rumored to be announced at WWDC. Though Apple enthusiasts may have failed at guessing the right name, Apple’s new music streaming service is indeed quite similar to Pandora. iTunes Music features over 200 stations, like “Summer Songs” and “Artists on Tour,” created by Apple supported by iTunes’ music catalog. Just like Pandora, iTunes Music will allow you to create stations based around particular artists, songs, or genres and will feature options similar to Pandora’s for favoriting songs you like and blocking playback of songs you don’t like. When you tap a song in iTunes Radio Apple presents you the option to purchase the song from iTunes, share the song with a friend, or create a new station around that song. What’s more, iTunes Radio keeps track of all the songs you’ve listened to on all of your devices so you can continue to preview songs and, if you like, purchase them through iTunes.
You’ll be able to access iTunes Music directly from your iOS Music app. iTunes Radio will first become available in the US and will eventually expand to other countries. Now we know what iTunes Radio does, but we still can’t figure out why it exists…
iOS 7 also comes with a redesigned Photos app that helps you organize and share your photos with ease. Photos will automatically organize your pictures into Moments, sorted by location and date. Collections are groups of Moments sorted into larger groups. While Moments may sort your photos by a specific location or day, Collections will sort photos into larger groups, such as photos from all days of your vacation, for example. Zoom out to view your photos organized by year. Additionally, each year will feature the locations tagged in your photos of that year.
In addition to enabling you to share your photos with apps like AirDrop, Mail, and Twitter, iOS 7 includes iCLoud Photo Sharing. iCloud Photo Sharing allows your friends and family to contribute their own photos and videos to your shared photo streams. What’s that? I said “videos?” That’s right, iCloud Photo Sharing will also support videos. Plus, the new Activity view will display updates from your shared streams in one place.
Previously a feature only available to Mac users, AirDrop makes its iOS debut with iOS 7. AirDrop is an easy way to share files with people close by over a peer-to-peer WiFi network. No more passwords or NFC hardware to deal with: just tap and go.
iOS 7’s new Camera app does more than any other iOS camera has done before. Now with four cameras to choose from – photo, video, square, and panorama – and added filters and real-time photo effects, you’ll be taking more incredible photos than ever before.
Safari for iOS receives a new full-screen look. Pulling down from the top of the app reveals one-tap access to Safari’s smart search field and your favorites. Plus, Safari offers new views of your bookmarks, tabs, and links shared by your social media contacts by pulling up from the bottom of the Safari app. With iCloud integration, you’ll also be able to view tabs open on your other iOS devices. A new gesture on iOS, horizontal scrolling will allow you to navigate back and forth in your browser history: a great feature for one-handed browsing. Plus, enhanced Parental Controls allow you to automatically block access to adult websites or only allow access to a specific set of permitted websites.
Siri’s going to sound a whole lot different with new male and female voices. Besides the voice change, Siri offers plenty of new features:
- Twitter search integration: Hear what people are saying on Twitter
- Wikipedia integration: Now search the world’s most popular reference site by talking to Siri
- Use Siri to control your device: Now ask Siri to change device settings such as turning on WiFi or ask Siri to play back your most recent voicemails
- Integration with Bing Web Search: Now search the web with Microsoft’s Bing
iCloud Keychain Integration
iCloud Keychain is a new feature announced for the upcoming Mac OS X, Mavericks. iCloud Keychain will provide you a simple and secure way to store all your password and credit card information in one place and access it on any device. iCloud Keychain integration with iOS will allow you to seamlessly browse and shop on any of your Apple devices, no matter if you’re carrying your wallet with you or not.
Finally, the feature we’ve all been waiting for. – Drumroll please – the new App Store does away with those pesky red app update notifications; instead, App Store will automatically update your apps for you. Besides this glorious update, the revamped App Store makes it easier than ever to find the apps most useful to you. iOS 7 will feature Popular Apps Near Me, a new way to find apps based on your location, as well as a new Kids category that allows you to discover apps for children based on age.
Additional New iOS Features
iOS 7 will also include the following new features:
- A new way to find your iPhone: Activation Lock requires your Apple ID and password before you can turn off Find My iPhone, erase data, or re-activate a device after it’s been remotely erased. Hopefully this will stem the insanely high rate of iPhone theft
- Night Mode in Maps: Maps’ new Night Mode will responds to ambient light when you use it in the dark
- FaceTime audio: FaceTime audio allows for high quality voice calls over a data network
- Notification sync: Now when you dismiss a notification on one device it is dismissed on all of your devices
- Phone, FaceTime, and Messages blocking: Soon you’ll be able to prevent specific people from contacting you
- Enhanced in-car integration: Apple is bringing the iOS experience to your car for the first time. Straight from you car’s dock, you’ll be able to ask Siri to call friends, listen to messages, and use Maps hands- and eyes-free
- More support for Chinese-speaking users: Improvements include Tencent Weibo support for users in China, a Chinese-English bilingual dictionary, and improved Chinese input including handwriting recognition for multiple Chinese characters
With promising new features and a stunning new design, iOS 7 looks like a hit to me. “There is a profound and enduring beauty in simplicity, in clarity, in efficiency. True simplicity is derived from so much more than just the absence of clutter and ornamentation—it’s about bringing order to complexity,” said Jony Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of Design, regarding the design and functionality of iOS 7. “iOS 7 is a clear representation of these goals. It has a whole new structure that is coherent and applied across the entire system.”
What do you think, iOS users? Do any of these new features look like a big deal to you?