At a conference last year, Tim Cook said that they were going to double down on their secrecy and stop the leaks that, lets face it, ruin the surprise of many new products that Apple present. Well, he wasn’t lying. Before yesterdays WWDC 2013 Keynote, no one had any idea what was coming and boy it was a big surprise. It’s single handedly the biggest change to iOS since its creation, something that a lot of people (including myself) think that Apple needed to stay in the smartphone game. So, what’s new? Well, where do we start..
Lock and Home Screen
Once you update your phone, you’ll have a completely different iOS experience. They’ve completely rethought the lock screen as well as completely redesigning the UI of the phone to give it a more simplistic, clearer and cleaner effect which is consistent throughout the phone.
The lock screen is the first major change that you’ll notice. The Swipe to Unlock bar that has become so famous in Apple products has gone, instead being replaced with a simple Slide to Unlock message with an at a glance look at the time and weather. If you have a passcode protecting your phone then you’ll notice that the keypad will take up the full screen now too.
You’re also able to access the Notification Centre and the Control Centre from the lock screen but more on those features a little bit later.
Even the keyboard has got a face lift – it’s now semi transparent, adding to the 3D layer effect that Apple are pushing in iOS 7. In the messages app, you’ll be able to see the message bubbles behind your keyboard. A Small change but one that’s definitely welcomed.
Folders have also been tweaked to fit in with Apples new UI, no longer splitting the screen (something they’ve done since their introduction in iOS4). Instead now they’ll open on top of your home screen and you’ll be able to swipe between pages of folders meaning that there is no longer a limit of 3 lines of apps (4 on iPhone 5). That’s definitely a welcome addition for me personally as I like to organise my apps into categories and I hate having multiple folders for the same category!
The notification centre is a recent addition to iOS but has been given an overhaul in the way that it works. You still access it by swiping down on it from the top of the screen but now there are 3 different menus to choose from:
- Today – the Today tab is where you’ll find all information that is relevant to that particular day. Information includes the time, weather calendar events and birthdays.
- All – the All tab is the closest you’ll get to the generic Notification Centre where all notifications will be displayed.
- Missed – the Missed tab will include any notifications you may have missed such as calls, messages and Twitter notifications.
As well as the layout of the Notification Centre being changed, it’s also being made semi transparent like the keyboard to give a sense of depth to a flat display.
The Control Centre is a feature that I’ve been waiting for, for quite some time now and almost completely eradicates the need for me to jailbreak my phone. The Control Centre is accessed by swiping up from the bottom of your screen and has toggles for various settings such as WiFi, Bluetooth, Brightness, Do Not Disturb as well as others. It’s also where you can access a flashlight – much to the dismay of the thousands of flashlight app developers on iOS.
Multi Tasking was introduced in iOS4 with selected apps but in iOS7 it’ll be available for all apps and will also improve your battery life. Your phone will learn about what apps you use most at a specific time and will give that app frequent background activity at that time to make sure that it’s up to date for you as soon as you use it. As well as that, it’ll also stop other apps background activity that you don’t use as often to save battery life.
The multi tasking menu itself has also been redesigned – this time with app icons below a card that displays a preview of the app. To close the app, just swipe up on its card. Easy.
Apple have also integrated the Activation Lock into iOS7 which is an amazing theft deterrent. If your iOS device gets stolen and wiped, the thief will still require your iCloud login details to activate the device. Without them, it’s just a very expensive paperweight.
Apple have also tried to integrate a 3D effect into iOS7 by moving the background image depending on how you’re holding your phone to create the illusion of depth. The guys at Gizmodo have created a gif to demonstrate this, which you can see below:
Redesigned Stock Apps
Apples stock apps have been redesigned in iOS7. The Weather app is now beautiful with a dash of HTC Sense-esque weather animations and a pinch to zoom out option to see the weather in all your saved locations all at once (complete with mini animations).
The Calendar app has also had an overhaul, making it look simple with a pinch to zoom effect so show you different views – zooming out from Day view to Week view to Month view to Year view, it’s all very fluid and simple which seems to be the theme of iOS7.
The messages app is mainly the same apart from a nice new feature. When you’re on a message thread, simply slide from left to right from the left hand side of the screen to access the main messages page – brilliant for when you’re using your phone with one hand.
Apple have boasted that Safari is the most popular mobile browser in the world and have taken a massive risk by completely redesigning the way it works.
Instead of 2 input fields for web pages and Google search, there’s now a unified bar for both types of input. I’m happy about that because I’ve tried to Google something on my phone many a time and have accidentally typed the search into the web page input. Annoying.
There’s also a Shared Links tab which is accessible via swipe on the left hand side on the screen where links posted by friends on your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts are listed for you to browse.
My favourite change though is to the tabs menu. It’s been completely redesigned into a card reel where you can swipe through your various tabs – the 8 tab limit has also been lifted!
AirDrop is Apples answer to a lack of NFC on their products. If the app that you’re using supports “Share Sheets” then you can activate AirDrop and send the information to your friends nearby. The only problem is that this feature will only be available on the iPhone 5, iPad Mini, 5th Gen iPod Touch and iPad 4 because it uses peer-to-peer WiFi that has a minimum hardware spec.
The camera app has been redesigned with 4 different camera modes which you swipe to change between. The 4 modes are:
Personally my pet hate are square photos so I won’t be using that much but since Instagram became popular it’s a favourite photo type to have. It also has Live Filters which you can choose from and apply to the camera before taking the photo.
The photos app has had a complete redesign for iOS7 and it’s about time, too. When you open the Photo app right now, it’s just an endless amount of photos to scroll through with no information on any. Not any more. The Photos app will now sort your photos into “Moments” based on the timings and locations of the photos. You can view them individually or pinch to zoom out to see different Moments and browse between them.
Siri is finally coming into its own, becoming less of a gimmick and more of a virtual personal assistant. It’s now available in both mens and womans voices and can do a lot more things on your phone such as enabling and disabling bluetooth and WiFi as well as other system level functions. Wikipedia, Bing and Twitter are also now integrated into Siri.
The App Store had a redesign in iOS6 and is due to be changed yet again in iOS7 to fit with the new system wide theme. It’s also introducing a few new features such as Popular Apps Nearby where you can discover new apps that are popular in your area. Another feature that’s being welcomed with open arms by many is automatic app updating.
Music and iTunes Radio
The Music app, apart from its general redesign to fit with the theme remains largely unchanged (in regards to features). One feature that is added though is iTunes Radio (formerly dubbed iRadio by blogs before its announcement). It’s a radio streaming service that you can use for free with ads or without ads if you’re an iTunes Match customer.
Oh My God I need this now. When can I get it?
Sadly, iOS7 won’t be available to the general public until Autumn, no doubt being released at about the same time as the next generation of iPhone. It’s also only supported from iPhone 4 and upwards, so sorry 3Gs users!
What do you think about iOS7? Have Apple stopped all the talk about their lack of innovation in recent years? Let me know in the comments below!