This year, it is apparent that Apple invested a good portion of their resources into developing a new operating system that can continue to compete with Android. After the big disappointment of iOS 6, Apple needed to develop a significantly improved operating system that would make up for the losses in the iOS 6 era. Let’s take a closer look at how Apple has “improved” their mobile operating system from last year’s failure.
The first and most obvious thing to address is the new look of iOS 7. In iOS 7, Apple completely did away with the aesthetics of the operating system that I have come to know and love. The icons are different, the dock is different; even the lock screen is different. For some, these changes are overdue (the iOS operating system has not seen a major aesthetic change since iOS 4). For others, however, these changes are unnecessary and stupid. Put simply, you either love or hate these changes. There isn’t much in between. I personally like the changes that were made to the operating system (having experienced them first-hand in the iPhone and iPad beta). I cannot speak for anyone else though.
Next, lets talk about Control Center and Notification Center. Notification Center is not a new addition to the OS. It has been around since the release of iOS 5. This year’s release of iOS 7 marked the first major change to Notification Center. The change is apparent the second you pull it down from the top of the screen. The menu now has three tabs: Today, All, and Missed. The previous version of Notification Center only had one tab (for lack of a better word) where all of the content was pushed together. I personally find this new change to be a positive one. The content is more organized, it can be viewed in the lock screen and, for the first time, the date can be seen in in the “Today” tab. I know it is a simple and obscure feature, but it is one that I have been waiting for for a while. Now let’s talk about Control Center. This completely new menu that is activated by swiping up from the bottom of the screen is a long overdue feature for the iOS platform. In this menu, you can toggle important features like wifi and bluetooth. There are also icons at the bottom that give you immediate access to the Calculator and Clock app. Also among these icons is a toggle for a flashlight. This could be a big deal for some people. Like Notification Center, Control Center is accessible from the lock screen. This is great if you just want to plug something into the calculator real quick without unlocking your phone. Control Center is one of those improvements that will help Apple recover from iOS 6 and keep up with Android.
One of my favorite new features in iOS 7 is the live action Multitasking feature. In iOS 4-6 the Multitasking feature was simply a display of app icons. In iOS 7, however, you not only see the app icons, but also a preview of what is going on in the app. I know, it is a simple feature, but it is one of those aesthetic features that iOS users have been waiting for.
There are a couple more things that should be noted. First, Siri has a new, more friendly (and lifelike) voice. In addition, Siri is now capable of doing more things and overall smarter. Both of these “features” did not come as a big surprise to me. It makes sense that Apple would improve Siri in these ways. Next, the Camera. As expected, the Camera app has a new interface. This is no surprise and is not worth elaborating on. The bigger surprise came in the Photos app. In the past, users have been able to perform basic edits on their photos (cropping, enhancing, rotating), but nothing major. Now, it is possible to add filters to your photos through the Photos app. This was surprising to me, but not really significant. I already have an app on my iPhone and iPad that has more filters and offers better editing options. I will stick with this app. Another new feature in the Photos app deals with photo organization. Now it is possible to view photos based on the location that they were taken in (in addition to the album they are in). This new feature automatically groups photos together based on the rough location they were taken in. You can also sort the photos by year if you wish. Lastly, lets talk about the Maps app. In the WWDC keynote, a member of the iOS team claimed that the Maps app was significantly improved over the previous version. I will believe this when I see it. The iOS 6 version was pretty bad. The turn by turn direction was terrible. Since I got iOS 6 on my iPhone, I have used the Google Maps app for navigation. It works a lot better because it is run by Google and not Tom Tom.
That’s a basic overview of the new features in iOS 7. I know I did not cover all of the new features, but I didn’t want to make this post too long. If you are interested in learning more about iOS 7, you can always visit Apple’s website.
My bottom line opinion is that iOS 7 was a much better release than iOS 6. I know that isn’t saying much, but there are some things that I have experienced in the beta that I just do not like. Overall, the operating system has potential to keep Apple in the running with Android, but we will have to see what the final release looks like. It is also important to note that the hardware in the next iPhone is crucial to keep competing with Android. We will probably have to wait until fall to see that though.
Thanks for reading. I plan to release a review of the iOS 7 beta for iPhone and iPad in my next posts. Check back in a few days.