- Editor's Rating
- Notification Center is more useful than in iOS 6
- Control Center offers quick access to commonly used apps
- Attractive overall design gives a fresh new look for iOS users
- Control Center isn't customizable
- Multitasking mode takes longer to close out running apps
- Mail still needs work dealing with attachments
Quick TakeApple's latest OS, iOS 7, offers users a fresh new look for their iOS devices with improved functionality, features, and design. Downloading iOS 7 is like getting a new phone at no cost.
iOS 7 is the latest iteration of Apple’s mobile operating platform, and it marks a stark departure from past versions. The entire aesthetic has been “flattened” to give iOS a more modern, or at least stylistic, feel. Apple has also enabled users with more control, as well as completely overhauled the way iOS handles notifications. It’s currently available for the iPhone 4 and all subsequent models, iPad 2 and all subsequent models, iPad mini, and the fifth-generation iPod touch.
Users can now unlock their device by swiping anywhere on the screen. It’s a small design change, but it does make unlocking the device that much easier.
Behind the lock screen, the design of iOS 7 still features the well-known iPhone icon layout. However, the icons are now flat, colorful, and simplified. In an attempt to create some depth, Apple introduced motion backgrounds and pivoting icons, which tilt around as the user moves the screen. Honestly, TechnologyGuide found the pivoting icons annoying after a little use, and quickly turned the motion feature off under the accessibility settings.
Another addition to the overall layout includes unlimited space in folders, so users can now throw as many apps as they want into a folder to reduce homescreen clutter, though only 9 show at a time. iOS 7 also features automatic updates, to say goodbye to the seemingly perpetual badge displaying the number of apps that need updating. Users can also opt to turn automatic updates off if they prefer to do it manually. Finally, updates are now indicated by a circular timer rather than a status bar.
Within the settings, users can also change the text size of the overall user interface, native apps, and any compatible third party apps. TG couldn’t confirm if there are any third party apps that are compatible with this feature yet, but developers will most likely work on integrating this feature.
Perhaps one of the best new features in iOS 7 is Control Center. It brings commonly used apps and settings out from pages of menu screens into one easily-accessible location. Swiping up from the lock screen or home screen brings up Control Center, where users are able to toggle the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplane, Do Not Disturb, and Orientation lock settings. It also lets users manage songs that are playing as well as increase or decrease both the volume and screen brightness. Those with an iPhone 5 or later will also see the AirDrop setting here, but we’ll touch more on that feature later. Finally, users will see a new flashlight feature as well as the well-known, but aesthetically-updated, clock, calculator, and camera apps.
Control Center is a win and reviewers at TG certainly appreciate the easy access to these commonly-used features. However, it would be nice if it were customizable, so that users could choose the apps and settings they would like to appear here.
The Notification Center was introduced in iOS 6 and it received one of the most drastic makeovers of any other feature in iOS 7. In iOS 6, the Notification Center was disjointed from the rest of the OS, with reviewers at TG mostly pulling it down to clear out days’ worth of updates. In iOS 7, the notification center is far more useful and seems to flow better with the overall design.
It’s also customizable, and users can choose to keep specific features of the notification center off the lock screen, so those with sensitive data can keep it from prying eyes. The notification center features three different tabs, “Today,” “All,” and “Missed,” which users can swipe between, and it helps keeps the entire endeavor organized.
The Today tab displays the date and weather in text format (rather than the visual weather icon from iOS 6) as well as a quick synopsis of the appointments, lifted from the calendar. Below that, users will see a view of the next six hours on their calendar, any reminders with due dates of the same day, and a rundown of events for the following day as well as any users alarms. Under settings, users can pick and choose the information they want to display on the Today tab.
The “All” tab features every notification for email, iMessage, calendar reminders, meeting invitations, and whatever other apps the user chooses to include, like for example, CNN headlines. Users can choose what apps and notifications will show up the same way they could in iOS 6 in the iOS settings.
The Missed tab is more or less the same as the “All” tab, and TG found it to be useless. It shows users the missed notifications since the last time they checked their phone.
The new Mail app follows the all-white theme of iOS 7, with new icons for each different mail service the user has synced to it. Users can now edit the mail app to only show specific folders, hiding or revealing folders from any account including VIPs, drafts, sent, trash, and others. Adding the “Unread” folder is a great way to quickly see all unread emails from every email account at once. TG was impressed with the customizable folder features in the Mail app, and it is undoubtedly an improvement from iOS 6.
In iOS 7, users will still swipe to the left to delete mail messages, but now there is a second option. Choosing “More” brings up a menu of options including reply, forward, flag, mark as read, move to junk, and move message.
Unfortunately, as with previous versions, Mail in iOS 7 does not handle attachments well. The process of finding and managing attachments is kludgy at best, and file discovery can be a hassle.
The native text app for iOS 7 is still iMessage, but the familiar blue, green, and grey chat bubbles have been replaced by a flatter design. Text messages, iMessages, and received messages are still green, blue, and grey respectively but they no longer look 3D.
The best feature in iMessage is a small one, but now users can see time stamps for every message, not just the first message sent that day. Users can see the time stamps by swiping the chat to the left, and they will display on the right.
In group chats, rather than display the sender’s name, like in iOS 6, the updated iOS 7 displays circles with either a photo of the person (provided one is associated to the contact) or their initials.
Something that never made sense in the previous iOS text messaging apps (even before iMessage) was that when users had unread messages from just one person, the app would automatically open up to that unread chat. This is no longer the case in iOS 7, so users everywhere can stop sending texts to the wrong person or forgetting to reply to messages they meant to save for later.
Apple touted iTunes Radio as being its next big thing in music, and now it’s built into the Music app. It offers similar features to Pandora and Spotify Radio. However, unlike Pandora, the playlists in iTunes Radio are already created with a predetermined list of songs.
Apple offers up some comprehensive and interesting playlists, which include plenty of artists, so users should be able to find stations they enjoy. However, don’t expect to choose a favorite artist and build a playlist off of them. Users can test out a sample of each station before deciding to add it to their stations list. iTunes Radio will play 30-second samples of songs on the station until the user chooses the plus sign, which then adds the station to the home screen of the iTunes Radio tab in the music app.
Similar to the Pandora Radio app, users can only skip past six songs per hour before the feature becomes disabled. However, like Pandora, users can start another radio station for another six skips. Choosing the same station again and adding it to the home screen means a new song will start playing on the same station, but the skips are still disabled. The controls feature a star next to the pause button, which brings up options to “Play More Like This”, “Never Play This Song”, and “Add to iTunes Wish List”. Users can also choose to purchase a song in iTunes straight from the app.
iTunes Radio will most likely boil down to preference, but those who would rather choose a genre, as opposed to a particular artist, will appreciate iTunes Radio. And yes, it has commercials, but it is also free to use.
On page 2, TG takes a look at the new Siri, Safari, and more.