Since the first beta was released, there has been a lot of backlash about the design, UI, and interaction model of iOS 7. We’ve heard a lot about what everyone hates about it, but we also want to touch on what’s really cool about it, what Apple got right — besides the ability to stuff Newsstand in a folder … finally. Because some really great things are coming in iOS 7 this fall.
Are you ready?
I think most everyone we’ve heard from agrees that this is the best new feature of iOS 7. After all, this has been one of the most wanted (and needed) tweaks for iOS users. In fact, easy access to these settings is one of the main reasons people jailbreak.
Control Center allows easy access to Settings from any screen — including the lock screen! It’s like we have those widget things now that Android users keep bragging about. Except … they’re not very widget-y or obnoxious.
Two things missing from Control Center, though, are the Cellular Data and Personal Hotspot toggles. Those should definitely be there. What would be even better is if we could decide which settings show up at all; the ability to swap out different settings or apps would be amazing. I could get behind a fully customizable Control Center. I doubt it will happen — especially not by fall — but who knows. Either way, I’d love to see that happen in the future.
Next to Control Center, this is probably the second favorite feature among beta users. Spotlight has been tweaked a bit in iOS 7. Instead of swiping past the home screen to access it, you can simply pull down slightly anywhere on any screen (but not the lock screen) and it will be right there, at the top. This is much more accessible, and it just makes more sense. I can definitely see users taking advantage of Spotlight more because of this, too.
On top of the easier access, Spotlight also sports a simpler view and shows even more information. Even contacts’ pictures show up now in search results.
And, don’t worry, you can still pick and choose which categories Spotlight searches and which it doesn’t — or turn it off all together by unchecking everything.
Although there are some design flaws on the new lock screen, its overall feature set has been improved immensely. You now have the ability to access Notification Center and Control Center from your lock screen. This makes accessing your notifications, calendar, daily overview, and settings 110 percent easier.
The locking and unlocking gestures and animations are also pretty neat. I do think, however, that swiping left should do something or be useful in some way. Right now, there’s nothing there. Maybe access to the lock screen Camera should be moved there since, currently, Control Center and Camera both occupy the same space in a way.
Finally! The “iRadio” we were all waiting for has come to fruition. Apple’s iTunes Radio is the new, free streaming music service available in iOS 7. Hugely rivaling Pandora, it has lots of potential, but it also has the potential to be so much more. A lot of beta users wish it had its own, separate app, though, and wasn’t just tossed in with Music.
For now, iTunes Radio is a great option for your average music listener, especially considering it’s free.
Animations, interactions, and gestures
There are a lot of new animations, interactions, and gestures in iOS 7. One of the best being the icons falling into place when you go to the home screen.
Now, since Apple seems bent on ridding iOS 7 of buttons, in a number of apps you can simply swipe (left to right) to go back — like in Safari or Mail.
Another neat interactive gesture involves the multitasking tray. When quitting an app from the switcher, instead of tapping to hold on an app, then tapping the “x” to remove it, you now “flick” the app thumbnail upwards and voila! Gone. Now, keep in mind, iOS has always been very good at managing app memory and with iOS 7 they boast it’s even better. Unless you’re having issues with an app (crashing, freezing, constant location tracking when open, etc.), it is not completely necessary to close your apps in the multitasking tray. However, I guess it does give us OCD folk peace of mind.
Another new feature, that’s more “just for fun,” is the use of parallax effects — like the dynamic and panoramic wallpapers you’ve heard so much about. Necessary? No. Cool? Definitely.
@CoreyTamas I think one of our readers said it best today (re: parallax), “iPhone should be practical & useful, but it should be fun too.”
— Jamie Young (@atjamie) June 12, 2013
Now, Safari in iOS 7 sports some pretty great improvements. Number one, it’s faster, especially scrolling. Not only is there no longer a limit on how many pages you have open simultaneously, you can also view all open pages at once.
Even the toolbar is unified, no more separate boxes — you can type in a URL or a search term, just like Apple brought us in OS X Mountain Lion. Also, your bookmarks are all right at your fingertips, improved sync and all.
Photos and Camera
There are a lot of new photo and camera features added in iOS 7. One of the best is photo collections. Now, the iOS 7 Photos app will take care of organizing your photos for you based on the dates and locations they were taken. This definitely tidies the Photos app up; especially if you’re like me and have thousands of too many photos on your device.
Shared photo streams also received a great update. Now, others can add their own photos to the photo stream, as well. This is perfect for weddings, concerts, conventions, and pretty much anything else.
The Camera and Photos apps also both allow you to add filters to your photos. It’s a small thing, but worth mentioning.
Most of us are going nuts over automatic app updates, and with good reason. These will save a lot of us from ever having to worry about our apps being up to date again. But, don’t worry, if you prefer to manually update your apps, this setting can be turned off under Settings>iTunes and App Stores.
The store is even more categorized in iOS 7. It’s now faster, and easier, to find what you’re looking for. And everybody will love that.
This is my favorite: You can now block phone calls and messages from anyone you wish. Finally say farewell to exes and unwanted admirers! But keep in mind, it’s all or nothing: You can block every kind of contact from an individual or none at all.
While we’re at it, the new incoming call screen, and the screen while you’re on a call, looks great too. They could tone down the red though. That’s a little … “Yikes!”
AirDrop is a feature that OS X received in Lion. Now, there’s finally an easy way to quickly send files (photos, contacts, documents, etc.) to each other using iOS 7, too.
AirDrop uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to share things instantly.
Last, but not least, is the personal assistant we all love to hate. Hopefully, now, we can love it a little more.
In iOS 7, Siri can now tweak settings for you, is faster, smarter, and can search more things for you.
Oh, and Siri will also have a new voice come fall.
So, there you have it. Despite some of the initial shortcomings in the first beta, there’s still a lot to look forward to in iOS 7.
What features are you most excited about in iOS 7?