Home » Opinions » iOS 7 Features: Things to get excited about

iOS 7 features list - what's new?

Andrew Williams by

iOS 7 Features: Things to get excited about

iOS 7 for iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, the rumoured iPhone 5S and 5C is almost here. Here's the best features to look out for.

Unveiled at WWDC 2013 back in June, iOS 7 is the most significant re-vamp of the iPhone operating system since it launched back in 2007. Much of the talk in the build up has centred around iPhone designer Jony Ive taking a central role in revamping iOS and making sure it doesn't fall behind Android and Windows Phone.

As the iOS 7 gets set to be unleashed alongside a couple of new iPhones, we take a closer look at what's new for the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system.

New Design

Apple has finally decided to give iOS a proper redesign. iOS has looked almost identical update-to-update since the system first arrived back in 2007. That’s when the first iPhone launched – aeons ago in tech terms.

A core part of the redesign is new icons. All the old designs have been ditched in favour of a new look. The outline-heavy style of previous versions has gone, in favour of a more supposedly chic look.

Who is behind this new version? It’s Jonathan Ive, the man who was behind the hardware design of the iPad, iPhone and the original iPod – which made its debut in 2001. He's an Apple veteran.

It’s not all about icons, though. All of Apple’s own apps have been given a new simplified tweak, including Email, the camera app, the browser, the photo gallery and – arguably the most important of all – the Apple keyboard.

iOS 7 features 3

iOS 7 Camera App

The Camera app of iOS 6 has been completely redesigned for iOS 7. In previous incarnations, the iPhone camera app was the simplest mobile phone photo interface of them all – just giving you access to an HDR mode, panorama, and the grid (seldom-used).

iOS 7’s camera app is completely different. Apple has realised that iPhone users love things like filters and the ability to easily share their photo history with friends.

The iOS 7 camera app now offers eight hipster-friendly filters, and you can remove them after having applied them if you like. There are now ‘photo collections’ too, which amass your photos into a timeline that stretches over days, weeks, months – and even years.

Apple is clearly out to blast services like Instagram into the past with iOS 7. Your photos are shared on iCloud, Apple’s cloud storage service.

iTunes Radio

iOS 7 features 1One of the most fun additions to iOS 7 is iTunes Radio. It’s a Last.fm-like service that lets you listen to music for free.

However – like Last.fm – you won’t have full control over what you listen to. It is free, after all.

It learns your tastes over time, or you can listen to an ‘artist’ radio station. Here’s the bummer, though – iTunes Radio is currently only available in the US, probably thanks to licensing issues. Yep, we’re disappointed too.

Apple Control Centre

iOS 7 includes a new features switch panel that’s comparable with the notifications bar controls of Android. It’ll give you control over features like AirPlay, screen brightness, music playback, Bluetooth and Airplane mode.

Previously you had to head into the Settings menu of an iPhone or iPad to access this features. iOS 7 is happier to use gestures to get you where you want to go, quicker.

This control centre panel is accessed by dragging up with a finger from the bottom of the screen. Here’s where it really differs from Android – with Google’s OS you drag down from the top of the screen to access these features in most phones.

Notifications bar

However, Apple’s iOS 6 alerady did use an Android-like drag-down menu for notifications, and that has not disappeared. It has, predictably, been redesigned.

It functions much as it always has, but the new ‘flagship’ feature is a run-down of all your updates of the day. This will include text messages, tweets shared photos and so on. When looking at future daily updates it’ll also show you calendar events and the weather. And all with that new Jonathan Ive style too.

iOS 7 features 4

Smart Multitasking

Multitasking has been completely redesigned in iOS 7. Instead of just showing you icons of apps you’ve recently loaded, you’ll see shrunken previews of what’s on-screen, similar to those seen in the near-defunct Palm WebOS.

Apps will now learn when you search for updates in your daily schedule. So if you look at Facebook every day at 9am, your iPhone will update that app just before that, so you’re ready to see all your friends’ latest inane insights.

The idea is that this will help iOS 7 to save a bit of battery, so it won’t have to look for updates 24/7. iOS 7 will also capitalise on Wi-Fi connections, updating all its content when connected in this manner – Wi-Fi uses less battery than 3G.

We’ll have to see how this works in person.

AirDrop

Apple has been criticised by many for not including NFC in its latest devices. The iPhone 5, the iPad 4? No NFC.

The iOS 7 stop-gap is AirDrop. This uses Wi-Fi Direct and Bluetooth to let you share files – primarily photos, contact and videos - with people nearby.

If anything, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are actually superior Wi-Fi standards for this purpose as their ranges are far greater than NFC, which peters out after about 10cm. You’ll still have to select a contact to send files too as well, so you shouldn’t find random strangers sending you photos either.

Safari Redesign

iOS 7 features 2The Safari browser of iOS has been given a long-needed overhaul. In common with the rest of iOS 7, it now tries to keep things simple, with an interface that hides interface elements until they’re needed.

Its tabbed browsing view has also been changed. Rather than appearing as flat planes, they appear as 3D animated tabs – five of which can be shown on-screen at once.

Safari now uses iCloud too, letting you save your passwords and logins so you don’t have to type them in every time. And, for the social networkers out there, you save your ‘reading list’ URLs and share them over Twitter if you like.

Siri

iOS 7's Siri is a little more advanced than before. Most of the updates are ‘experiential’, meaning you should only notice it’s better without necessarily realising why. There’s more feedback about when Siri’s listening and not. You no longer have to guress.

Siri should no longer have to leave the Siri app, either. Apple has done a deal with Wikipedia that will see the voice assistant search Wikipedia within the app, so it should almost never simply dump you out to a web search.

Next, read our Apple iPhone Event 2013: Predictions and what to expect

Go to comments

sj

June 11, 2013, 2:40 pm

nobody is going to mention that literally almost EVERYTHING in this are features Android has had since 4.0?

Guest

June 11, 2013, 3:00 pm

I watched the whole keynote. Some things were OK. The new Mac Pro design, for instance. Not bad (at least from the standpoint of a person who is versed in thermal and high speed design). OS X got an incremental update, the second one which one can live without. The most striking features are basically deep bug fixes, like for the poor support of the system for multiple monitors. Everybody and their Mom are now touting their browser memory and energy footprint. Apple is just one of a bunch who have failed to deliver a browser architecture with reasonable memory footprint for over a decade. The answer to that announcement was: "Geez, what took you so long? And why can't I shake the feeling that it will still suck in real life?"

Longer battery life on notebooks? I take it, but it's really not Apple's technology that does it, but Intel's. However, since Apple did a much better job in the past than either MS or the Linux community with regards to energy management, I will give them a pass, again, and a fail to the rest of the computing world for being worse than them. But just because your competition sucks lemons doesn't mean you are a shining star, Apple.

iOS basically caught up to where Android was a year ago, or so. Smart multitasking is a bunch of poorly thought out workarounds for the real problem of designing a robust multi-tastking system that can perform well at all times. All the "features" are basically meant to hide the poor performance of the system from the user while trying to prevent another "battery-gate" disaster. Again, the technically experienced person won't be fooled by the advertising lingo. The naive consumer that Apple needs to drive sales, just might. And the flat theme? It's a skin, for heavens sake. How many thousands of skins did designers make in the past decade or so, for Windows, Linux, Android and all kinds of web-sites and software products? As for this one? I am not sure I like it that much. It's not nearly as horrible as Windows 8, of course, but that's hardly a laurel to rest on.

iRadio? Somebody is ten years late to a rather lame party.

Automotive iOS? Far more interesting, from a business point of view. As a customer, I would feel rather uncomfortable paying a license fee to Apple for my new car for a product feature that I won't even be using.

Guest

June 11, 2013, 3:15 pm

I sort of did. :-)

Guest

June 11, 2013, 3:23 pm

As for "....innovation, my gray horse like animal!" Phil... he probably hoped that nobody in the room (or watching on the internet) ever saw a Cray 1 up close. It was cylindrical... the boards were arranged around the periphery of the cylinder, around a wiring and thermal core.... and I am not even sure that was so innovative back then, in 1976.

Hmm... Apple copying a 40 year old supercomputer design... at least physics isn't partial to them. What worked back then for Cray obviously works today for them. Why wouldn't it? The laws of nature haven't changed a bit.

What are we to expect from the next Mac Pro design? A cylinder filled with heat conducting liquid, like in the Cray 2, maybe? Why not... I bet they will manage to slap the word "innovative" in that thermal design, too, and get away with it with 99.9% of all tech history illiterate buyers.

Jim

June 11, 2013, 4:06 pm

so essentially trying to nab more android features and still behind. guess i wont be consider migrating back any time soon then...

Cornellius Maximilianus

June 11, 2013, 5:36 pm

People are so whinny, no matter of what they will always complain.

sj

June 11, 2013, 7:43 pm

looks like we posted pretty close to the same time. There weren't any comments showing up when I posted this. :D

Yeap

June 12, 2013, 4:47 pm

Or maybe android seen all the features from Cydia? most of the features were there since the iphone 3g...

like SBSETTINGS and much more

so all iphone haters need to say thanks for iphone..

sj

June 17, 2013, 7:03 pm

Except that Android was actually developed three years prior to iOS release (development began in 2004), it just wasn't mainstream as it was not a Google owned project at the time and lacked the backing for widespread distribution. So while I appreciate that iPhone had features baked in back in the day, they weren't available to the broader public for everyday use, and they didn't really innovate anything anyway, they simply wrapped their product in a sexy package and marketed the crap out of it.

comments powered by Disqus