Well, the day is finally here. iOS 7 is now available for download to everyone, if you haven’t gotten it yet, you can most likely update by going to Settings > General > Software Update. Once you update to iOS 7 things will look very different in terms of visuals, however, don’t worry because the underlying functionality that you know and love from previous versions of iOS is still there, just in a new and improved way.
I’m not going to go into all of those details, you’ll see as you play around with the new iOS release that it’s fundamentally very familiar. Instead I want to focus on 8 features in iOS 7 that I have come to love (in no particular order) in my time beta testing the latest offering out of Cupertino.
1. Automatic App Updates
In iOS 7 apps automatically update. You no longer have to check the App Store and manually update your apps, but perhaps even better than that is, you no longer have to stare at that App Store icon badge continually increasing the number of updates available for your iOS device. I’m sure John McCain is thrilled, as is my girlfriend, who
is was notoriously bad about updating her apps.
2. Control Center
Control Center is a new feature to iOS 7 that appears when you swipe up from the bottom of the screen. It gives you access to a slew of features on your iOS device, including the ability to easily toggle WiFi, Bluetooth, Do not Disturb mode, Airplane mode, and orientation lock on and off. Plus, it also gives you quick access to the calculator app, camera, clock app, and even the option to turn on your devices flash to use it like a flashlight. Yeah, sorry flashlight apps.
In addition to all that quick functionality and access, you can also control the devices brightness, the song you’re listening to, and whether or not you want to beam content to a local AirPlay device all right from the Control Center. The other thing you can do in Control Center is manage how AirDrop works on your device, meaning you can turn it off, make it for contacts only, or make it so everyone can potentially share files with you. We’ll talk more about this in a bit.
3. Multiple Pages within App Folders
Remember in iOS 6 how you could create app folders on your home screen to store apps? Yeah, that was nice, but once you filled up that box with apps you couldn’t add any more apps to the folder. Well, great news! That’s been improved in iOS 7. In iOS 7, app folders can have multiple pages, simply swipe between the pages like you would do on the home screen itself.
This could one of the best possible features on iOS ever. With AirDrop you can seamlessly share files such as photos and videos with other iOS users who are nearby. Forget texting or emailing files, AirDrop is super fast and works over WiFi and Bluetooth — it’s also super secure. As I mentioned you can limit access to people only in contacts or make it so anyone (in the local area) can attempt to initiate a file transfer with you.
AirDrop will be a game changing feature and I’m thoroughly convinced it’s one of the reasons Google acquired Bump.
5. Improved Multitasking
In iOS 7 Apple really improved multitasking, they went with a card-style approach, similar to that of the Palm/WebOS days. Just like before you double tap the home button to access the multitasking feature, but now, you’ll see previews of what you were looking at in the app prior to closing it. You can swipe up on any “card” to fully close it or you can just swipe back and forth to find the app you’re looking for. The new implementation of multitasking is much better.
6. Unlimited Safari Tabs/Windows
In older versions of iOS you were limited to 10 (I believe) Safari windows that could be open at any one time. Not anymore. In iOS 7 you can have as many Safari windows open as you want. I’m happy to see this improvement because there were a few too many times when I had to close something I didn’t want to in order to open a new window.
7. iTunes Radio
The introduction of iTunes Radio in iOS 7 may not seem like much, but it’s actually really well done. The songs that iTunes Radio queued up for me were for the most part very good, it really understood my taste in music based on the types of stations I entered (you know, like blink-182 radio). I also found the pre-curated stations to be enjoyable in my listening, one of my favorites was the station that featured bands currently on tour.
By the way, iTunes Radio is free with ads, however, if you pay for iTunes Match ($25/year) you get to listen without any ads at all.
8. The Flat Design
Ah, yes. The flat design found in iOS 7 is really incredible. Masterminded by none other than Sir Jonathan Ive himself, I really like the use of colors and just the attention to detail. Sure it feels different at first — spoiler alert: it’s supposed to, but it will grow on you and I really believe you users of iOS will come to love iOS 7 more than any other version to date. That being said, I do wish some of the icons were slightly modified, but hey, what are you going to do.