Apple yesterday announced the next version of its mobile operating system iOS7. It’s annual update boasts the new design pioneered by Sir Jony Ive, after Apples lead hardware designer was handed the reigns for the software side of things in addition to the hardware.
I took a look at 5 things I felt iOS7 needed as a priority back in January, and I’m glad to see a few things have indeed been covered, although a few annoyances remain…
Overall the new design is much fresher and lighter – all the icons have been redesigned to look much simpler. Everything has a pastel feel to it. The reserved black bar at the top for the time and other icons has gone, they now float over the top of the background wallpaper more elegantly.
The 3D effect for the ‘launcher’ icons ever present at the bottom of the homescreen has gone – replaced with a flat white colour wash.
Much of the clutter has been removed from the core apps, and I can almost hear Sir Jony Ive muttering simplify under his breath over and over as he began this process.
There is a new thin font throughout – a strict colour palette has been enforced for all icons, and spacing and layout have all been tweaked.
Key New Features
There are literally hundreds of new features in iOS7, and I’ll dig into some specific one sin more detail in the next few weeks, but here is an overview of the main ones.
Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access the new Control Center. Here you have access to frequently needed items such as the ability to toggle WiFi or Bluetooth on/off, screen rotation and more.
You can access the new Air Drop feature, control AirPlay, adjust brightness, control music and access core apps like the calculator, clock and camera. There’s also a new flashlight function which switches on the camera flash.
The pull down Notification Center has also had a major overhaul. It still shows essentially all the same information, but its all more beautifully presented, with better spacing and toggles for notifications from Today or ones yet to have been seen. Calendar appointments are re-worded into sentences for you!
Notification actions now sync so dismiss something on your iPhone, its also gone on your iPad.
Gone are Twitter and Facebook status updates though, these used to be available at the top but have been quietly removed. They still exist as core iOS ‘signed in’ services though, and have been joined by Flickr and Vimeo. Photos and videos can now be shared with these additional services once configured.
There’s a new full screen card interface for multi-tasking – swipe elft and right to see open Apps – and they live preview as well to show you what’s happening on them. Swipe up to dismiss them.
Some new camera features include a general interface change, with easier to action buttons and settings, a new Filter live preview with several built in filters like Chrome, Mono etc. There’s even a new square photo mode which will please Instagram users.
The Photos view has also had an overhaul with several different ways to now group photos, by year, general time or location – called Smart Grouping. Sharing is now easier with the addition of Flickr and Vimeo in addition to Twitter and Facebook.
A new simple sharing feature that uses Bluetooth and WIFi – directly transfer images, video or even text to another iOS device. Restrict your visibility to No-one, Contacts or Everyone.
Data transfer is encrypted and the recipient can choose what to accept and where to save it.
Various Other Updates
Safari – improved tabbed browsing, shared links from friends on Twitter, iCloud Keychain storing and syncing passwords and credit card details securely across devices.
iTunes Radio – free streaming radio service, channels available based on artist or genre.
Siri – new voices and improved capabilities. Siri can now search and display Twitter timelines, and search Bing and Wikipedia.
App Store – automatic App updates now without having to approve each one. Intelligently download Apps when on charge and connected to WiFI.
iOS in the Car – several new 2014 manufacturers are including iOS in the Car capability. View and control your iPhone running iOS7 from within your connected car.
The new design will split many people – I’m already hearing from people who love it and others who hate it.
Features wise, what has been added is useful and often intuitive – although some things have been left for far too long (I’m looking at you Control Center) to be introduced.
Ironically, one of the biggest complaints about iOS – the grid of icons interface, actually remains unchanged.