What Apple Did Right: The Best New Features Coming In iOS 7
by Jamie Young
June 18, 2013
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?
Control CenterI 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.
Spotlight searchNext 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.
Lock screenAlthough 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.
iTunes RadioFinally! 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 gesturesThere 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