Apple has given us our first look at iOS 7 during the keynote presentation at this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference, where CEO Tim Cook called it the world’s most advanced mobile operating system. Now, just as the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C were revealed, we’ve learned it’ll be released as a free download on September 18.
Cook said the new version represented the biggest change to iOS since the iPhone was introduced, and back at WWDC, the introductory video hosted by Apple designer Jony Ive was greeted by a standing ovation as it finished. Apple has redesigned the OS from the ground up, from the icons and the colors, to the animations and even the way wallpaper affects the look of the software. However, it has ensured iOS remains familiar, useful and enjoyable to use.
Here’s everything Apple has told us about iOS 7 so far.
Updated on 09/12/2013 by Andy: Apple has given us the release date for iOS 7, but removed iCloud Keychain from the Golden Master release. Added a few other details. For a complete update history, check the bottom of this article.
The New Design
According to Jony Ive, Apple, “considered the tiniest details,” when designing iOS 7. As we expected, there’s no wood, leather, or other skeumorphic design elements – it’s a stark, flat, minimalist affair with plenty of white space, black text and in Ive’s own words, “precision and a sense of purpose.”
The alterations are so extensive it was difficult to take it all in, especially in such a short time, but it was clear there really doesn’t seem to be any trace of iOS as we know it now. For example, the lock screen features animation which responds to the movement of the phone, while altering the wallpaper sees system-wide changes applied, so individual colors match the phone’s new, “face.”
Buttons have been replaced by solid, easy to tap blocks, reception bars are now a series of dots, and slide-in panels are translucent, giving a real feeling of space and brightness to the screenshots seen during the presentation. Folders have been given a full screen view, and can now hold multiple pages of apps, while photos in messages are displayed edge-to-edge, instead of in a tiny box.
Gestures have taken over from back buttons, and up, down, left, and right swipes appear to be used throughout. This can be seen in the new weather app, where stored locations are swiped through as before, but by pinching the screen, you’re taken to a list view. The weather screens are also now beautifully animated, right down to lightning forking across the screen, and a world clock has been added to each listing. Gestures were also demonstrated in the Messages app, where a swipe to the left took you to different screens, plus in the Calendar app, a landscape scroll feature has been added.
Tim Cook called iOS 7, “The biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the iPhone,” and promised our devices would, “feel entirely new” after its installation. As with previous years, Apple talked about ten key features of iOS 7, and the changes they would bring. These ten were, Control Center, Multitasking, Safari, AirDrop, Camera, Photos, Siri, iOS In the Car, App Store, Music, and iTunes Radio. We’re going to go through each on in more detail below.
A feature which was included in an early rumor, and one which has been requested on many an occasion, Control Center is accessed by swiping up on any screen (including the lock screen), and provides controls for often used features. The usual suspects such as a Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, the orientation lock, and an Airplane Mode toggle are there, along with a brightness control, the music player, Do Not Disturb, AirPlay and AirDrop controls. Quick access buttons to the calculator and the camera are at the bottom of the screen, plus one for the new flashlight feature. Check out the translucent effect on Control Center, a look which has been applied throughout iOS 7.
The old multitasking App Tray is still in iOS 7, but the view has gone full screen, and the list of app icons has been joined by a preview pane. It’s accessed with a double tap of the Home button, and the app previews with another double tap, this time on the app icon. The list of open apps can be swiped through with a left or right motion, and a tap opens the selected app.
Apps will now be automatically updated (which sounds like a nightmare for those of us with multiple iTunes accounts), and iOS will prioritize them depending on which ones you use the most, while also monitoring the network so it downloads when there is full signal or a Wi-Fi connection.
The iOS web browser is back, faster than before and dramatically different, visually; as the window is now full screen and entirely black and white. A smart search feature has been added to the unified address bar, along with one tap access to your favorites, plus a minimalist bookmarks page and enhanced parental controls.
Tabs are now organized in a Cover Flow style vertical list, which is no longer limited to just eight pages, while gestures have been implemented for viewing, rearranging and deleting tabs. Scroll to the bottom of the list and you’ll find tabs which have been synced across from Safari on the desktop. Finally, the new iCloud Keychain feature has been integrated with Safari, so site logins and payment details can be automatically added.
This is Apple’s new way of sharing files with other iOS users. It uses a peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connection, so there’s no setup or need for a network connection, and files are encrypted. Files you want to share are added to a Share Sheet (try saying that one quickly), and a tap sends them to your chosen nearby contact. It works system-wide, and will be compatible with the iPhone 5, the fourth generation iPad, the iPad Mini, and the fifth generation iPod Touch.
Camera and Photos
For clarity, we’ll talk about the new camera and photo apps together. For the most part, the Camera app’s shooting features remain largely intact, except it now includes built-in filters. From the main screen, you can quickly swipe between video, photo, square cropped photo, and panorama photo to select a shooting mode. For you analog filter-lover shutterbugs, you can now apply eight live, non-permanent filters to standard and square photos, like black and white, sepia, and faded.
Using location, time, and date information that’s associated with your photos, the Photos app introduces a new management system that automatically groups your photos and videos based on Collections, Moments, and Years. The information “provides inherent structure to organize those photos,” said Apple VP Craig Federighi. Photos shot at a specific time and place are grouped into Moments, say a visit to Disneyland on a particular day. Without user input, the app automatically labels the grouping using the location info. A series of Moments make up Collections, again based on time and location; for example, the Disneyland excursion, could be part of a larger trip to Southern California. Years is obvious: All your photos from a particular year are presented onscreen in super-tiny thumbnails, but enlarge when you tap and scrub over them. iOS 7’s gesture controls come into action again here, as a pinch is all that’s needed to move through Moments, Collections and Years.
The filters introduced in the Camera app also applies to Photos, and you can place one of the effects over an existing photo in your collection, just like Instagram or one of the many photo apps available. Besides filters, there are new sharing capabilities. You can use the new AirDrop feature to push photos to friends around you. With iCloud Photo Sharing, you can select a photo stream to share a photo (or Moments) or video and add comments; other members with access to your shared photo streams can also add photos and comments, making the activity a social networking-like experience. Tilt your device into landscape mode and the UI changes to a new experience that brings the photos to the forefront.
According to Apple’s spec requirements, you’ll need an iPhone 5 to use the filters in Camera, but they’ll be in Photos from iPhone 4 and up. A slight UI change will also appear, as holding down the volume up button will focus on whatever is inside the onscreen center square.
Apple’s virtual assistant has a brand new interface, complete with a voice analyzer-style sound wave running across the bottom of the screen, and an all new voice. iOS 7 will provide the choice if a male or female Siri, whereas before it depended on the country in which Siri was used, and he/she has learned French and German, with other native languages to follow.
Siri’s cleverer too, as you can now use it to control different aspects of the phone’s operation, including voice mail, Bluetooth, and screen brightness; plus Siri can now post to Twitter. Both Wikipedia and inline Bing search results (which should see the end of swapping to Safari when asking for search results) have been added to Siri’s library.
New reports also show Siri will also get better at pronouncing names, albeit with your help, as a learning feature has been discovered in the first beta version of iOS 7. So far, this can be done manually, or Siri will automatically enter a learning mode after repeatedly mishearing a name, or being corrected.
iOS In The Car
Apple has been working hard on integrating iOS, and Siri, into in-car entertainment systems and from 2014, a selection of new cars will come with the ability to display iOS 7 information on their screens. This will enable drivers to make calls, play music, view maps and interact – eyes free – with Siri on the move, right down to having messages dictated to them, and in turn dictating and sending a reply.
So far, manufacturers signed up to provide iOS In The Car services include Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Chevrolet, Infiniti, Kia, Hyundai, Volvo, Nissan, Jaguar, and Ferrari.
The App Store has a completely new look, and Apple has improved the search feature with a Popular Near Me option, which can help find location specific apps you may not know exist. Think an official app for a museum, or a handy city guide. Parents can also search for age appropriate apps for children.
Billed as the, “Best music player we have ever made,” by Eddy Cue, iOS 7’s new Music app has improved integration with iCloud, as you will be able to search for music, movies, and TV, either stored locally or in the cloud. Switch the device to portrait mode, and you get a wide view of your album art, and a single tap zooms in on the artist and songs.
This is Apple’s entry into the competitive streaming music field. Eddie Cue showed off the new feature to a rapt crowd – and made sure that he played a little Led Zeppelin, since the rock group’s music hasn’t been available on streaming services until now. iTunes Radio offers iOS users what looks like a very attractive new option, since it lets you choose from hundreds of pre-selected radio stations, or you can create your own based on your favorite musical artist or song.
Radio stations can be collated from what’s trending on Twitter, or can come from your friends, and it can learn your tastes for the future, as you can choose to play similar tracks, or never play it again. Your history is also stored in iTunes.
iTunes Radio gives you an option to put songs on your iTunes Wishlist, so it acts as a discovery tool for people who want to download songs as well. It’s free with ads, but if you sign up for iTunes Match ($25 a year), it’s free without ads. It’ll initially launch in the U.S., with other countries set to be added in the future.
Find My iPhone, OS X Mavericks integration, and more
Additionally, iOS 7 will introduce a new layer of security, which will come as part of Find My iPhone. Called Activation Lock, it’s a theft deterrent, as each iOS 7 device will require the owner’s iTunes login details to be entered before it can be re-activated, no matter whether Find My iPhone has been deactivated or even if the phone has been restored.
The compass app has been expanded to include a spirit level feature.
Apple also announced OS X Mavericks for the Mac, which has improved the integration between your mobile device and your computer. These include iOS notifications syncing across to the desktop (which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your choice of apps), plus as Apple Maps is being added to OS X Mavericks, routes created on your computer can be sent directly to iOS, then instantly opened on your phone.
Not all features compatible with all devices
As with previous versions of iOS, not all the latest iOS 7 features will be available on all devices. The iPhone 5 and the fifth generation iPod Touch are the only two to get a full roster of new features, while the iPad and older iPhone’s all have some omissions.
The iPad Mini won’t be getting Panorama photos or any Camera Filters, while the latest iPad 4 will also miss out on Panorama shots. Things get worse for the iPad 3, which won’t have Panorama, filters, or AirDrop; while the iPad 2 misses out on all this plus Square photos, photo filters, and Siri updates too. Moving on to the iPhone, the iPhone 4S won’t have AirDrop or Camera Filters, and neither will the iPhone 4, along with Siri updates, Panorama shots, and Camera Filters.
Discussed during WWDC, iCloud Keychain would remember account names, passwords and even credit card information for you, using 256-bit AES encryption, and worked in tandem with iOS 7 and OSX Mavericks. However, the feature has been removed from the recently released Golden Master of iOS 7, indicating it may not be included in the public version. Apple is now listing iCloud Keychain as coming soon on its own website. Is it not quite ready for public consumption, or has Apple decided the feature can wait until iOS 7.1 and the release of OS X Mavericks?
Released on September 18
There are many other new features, as many as 200 according to Apple, in iOS 7, including notification sync across all devices (no more dismissing a notification multiple times), FaceTime Audio, a Night Mode for maps, and a blocking feature for FaceTime, Messages, and phone numbers.
At the time of writing, Apple has just seeded the final version of the software – known as the Golden Master – to developers for last minute checks in time for release, so it won’t be long before you get to discover all the new parts for yourself. When it’s ready for download, it’ll be compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad 2 and later, the iPad Mini, and the fifth generation iPod Touch. Naturally, anyone who buys the new iPhone 5C or iPhone 5S will find it already installed.
Updated on 06/12/2013 by Andy: Added in feature omissions for the iPhone and iPad, details of which have been published on Apple’s official iOS 7 webpage.
Updated on 06/10/2013 by Andy: Added details on Siri’s ability to learn how to pronounce difficult names.
Updated on 09/12/2013 by Andy: iCloud Keychain is now listed as coming soon, and may not be included in the final release.
Article originally published on 06/10/2013