Apple wowed people around the world with the public reveal of iOS 7 at WWDC 2013. Among a host of new features, iOS 7 is radically redesigned – dumping skeuomorphism for a cleaner, polished, and much more modern look. Say goodbye to the leather in Calendar, green felt in Game Center, lots more. iOS no longer feels like it is trying to, unsuccessfully, replicate real life. Apple’s latest mobile OS now has a look and feel of its own. iOS has really grown into its own skin.
A full roundup of what Apple had in store for iOS 7 is waiting just after the break.
“The mobile OS from a whole new perspective.”
This is how Apple defines iOS, and most would find it difficult to disagree. From sweeping system-wide design changes to smaller, deeply craved for, features like Control Center, Apple has again redefined the mobile experience.
Apple CEO Tim Cook began the new life of iOS 7 by going over some impressive figures regarding the success of their mobile operating system. Here’s the highlights:
- Over 600 million devices sold
- iOS is number 1 in customer satisfaction
- The iOS users use their phone 50% more than Android users use theirs
- iOS makes up 60% of mobile web market share – over 2.5 times Android usage
- iPads make up 82% of tablet mobile web market share
- iPhone has been ranked #1 in customer satisfaction by J.D. Power… 9 times in a row
- 97% customer satisfaction for iOS
- 73% of iOS users are “very satisfied” with their operating system. Windows Phone is next at 53%. Android sits at 49%
- iOS 6 has a 93% install base, compared to Jelly Bean at 33%.
- More than 1/3rd of Android users are running an OS released in 2010
But Cook had more in store for us than just huge numbers. Next, he brought Craig Federighi – Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering – on stage to show us how iOS 7 works.
Apple’s latest update to iOS will feature a totally redesigned lock screen. No more drab text or shiny unlock button. This lock screen is modern and sleek, and feels like it’s a part of your wallpaper – instead of just being slapped on top of it.
Not only does it look great, it’s incredibly functional, too. Swipe down for the redesigned Notification Center. Full interactive – not just a shortcut to an app. Swipe to dismiss a notification. Swipe up to call up the Control Center to quickly toggle Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and more.
It actually looks fun to use. Apple really nailed it this time. The original Notification Center was a band-aid fix to a problem customers complained about: no easy way to see or manage notifications. Remember those terrible bubbles? Now we can all ask: Remember the original Notification Center?
You’ll now see the current weather and a summary of traffic conditions near you.
Tabs at the top allow you to view all of your unaddressed notifications, or just what you haven’t dealt with in the last 24 hours.
Swipe away a notification, and it’ll disappear from all of your devices. No more dismissing notifications on your iPhone and iPad. Pretty neat.
Oh, and Notification Center on the Mac will support notifications from apps on your iOS devices. They’ll disappear from your Mac if you dismiss them on your iDevice, too.
A quick and easy way to access the settings that you’ve always wanted to be able to just flick on/off. This means that Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplane Mode, Do Not Disturb, and Brightness controls are much easier to get to. Swipe up from the bottom of any screen to activate it and have it pop-over what you’re doing. This even works on the Lock Screen.
Android now has one less leg up on iOS as Apple brings one of the most-wanted features to iOS 7. It’s now so much faster to turn on Airplane Mode right before takeoff, or toggle Bluetooth so your girlfriend can start using the Jambox.
This is the iRadio we were all looking for, and there’s few surprises here. iTunes Radio seems to almost exactly copy Pandora’s digital radio model. You can’t pick and choose albums and songs to play, instead listening to the default genre-based stations or even creating your own station. A station can be created based on a specific artist, album, or song, and will be saved and synced across your iCloud devices. iTunes Radio will also save every song that you’ve listened to, making it easy to create a new station or purchase the track from iTunes.
Surprisingly, we didn’t get a dedicated app for this one. iTunes Radio is built right in to the Music app on iOS. You can also tune in on Mac, PC, and Apple TV.
The cost of all of this: Free! iTunes Radio will be ad-supported, unless you subscribe to iTunes Match. Subscribers of the iTunes in the Cloud service will get iTunes Radio without ads. Pretty neat.
The rumors were true: AirDrop makes its way to the mobile space. People running iOS 7 will be able to easily share nearly anything from nearly any app super easily. Every app that supports Share Sheets – those little pop-ups that let you post to Twitter, Facebook, etc. – will support AirDrop natively.
Tapping on the AirDrop icon opens up a page that shows all of your friends near you – automatically. Tap the people that you want to share it with and the AirDrop takes over. It’ll use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to send the file, depending on what’s available. The person receiving the file will get a pop-up allowing them to accept or decline the transfer. All transfers are encrypted, too.
Apple’s 1Password killer. This keychain update copies much of the core functionality of 1Password, notably password generation and syncing between multiple platforms.
It will remember your usernames and passwords and auto fill them on websites for you. Does the same for credit card information, which is awesome. Looking forward to this.
She’s changed… even more than expected. Included in a ton of new features, Siri now has the ability to become a man. A newer, more natural voice, replaces the default Siri voice people have come to know and hate. You can also choose to have Siri sound like a man.
When you talk to Siri, you’ll see a neat little waveform show up at the bottom of the screen so that you know s/he’s listening. You’ll also see a great new interface, materializing into view over whatever you were doing before. A small touch, but one that makes Siri feel more of a part of the system – instead of something completely different.
Siri now has more control over your phone, too. You can ask Siri to toggle your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, play your voicemail, or even adjust your screen brightness. The latter feels a little excessing, though. Siri is integrated with more services, too, like Twitter, Bing, and Wikipedia. You can see Tweets, search results, and Wikipedia entries right within the Siri interface now, which is a great touch.
iOS 7 makes multitasking even faster and easier to use. It’s much smarter, meaning it will learn how and when you use your apps. It sounds a little scary, but it should noticeably improve the performance of switching between apps and opening an app through a Notification.
Apple’s example of how Multitasking will work harder for you is related to news consumption. Apple says:
So if you tend to check your favorite social app at 9:00 a.m. every day, your feed will be ready and waiting for you. That’s multitasking in iOS 7. It knows what you want to do before you do.
While this sounds neat, I’ll be interested to see how much this “learning” really improves app load times. It would be cool to see the latest news available immediately when launching CNN, but I’m not sure if the time savings will be something easily noticed.
A great change for Multitasking is the app previews. You’ll now see a preview of the apps in the background, instead of just the icons, so that you can better remember what you were doing before you got distracted. I’ve often found myself forgetting what I was doing while I switched over to Twitter for a few minutes. Hopefully this will help jog my memory and be less of a drain on my productivity. Swiping through the previews works just like swiping through the stream of apps did before. New look, same functionality.
An interesting addition to the iOS 7 feature list is Activation Lock, an innovate security feature that may have a positive impact on iPhone thefts around the world. This locking feature will help prevent theft by rendering an iPhone inoperable when a thief tries to turn off the Find My iPhone app, or even completely wipe the device. If this happens, Activation Lock kicks in and prevents the thief (or anyone else) from using the phone without first logging in to the iCloud account tied to the device.
This definitely adds some peace of mind to iPhone owners, who have been targeted for their expensive iDevices. iPhone theft has become so common that major police departments like San Francisco and NYPD have created programs specifically designed to help prevent iPhone theft, prosecute thieves, and return lost devices to their owners. Crime has been shown to drop significantly in areas where this happens, since iPhone thefts often account for the majority of petty theft for major police departments.
The most popular mobile browser gets an overhaul. Apple promises “way more web” as it moves things out of the way. These things are Safari’s navigation. Scrolling through a website now automatically hides the controls, working almost like Full Screen mode works currently.
Tabs have changed, too. Now you’ll see a preview of all of your open tabs on just one page. Like flipping through a physical file folder, you can quickly swipe through all of your tabs and see a preview of what’s on the page. Apple lifted the limit on the number of tabs you can have open, which is really nice. Just swipe a tab off screen to close it.
The address and search fields have been unified, like they have been in the desktop version for quite some time.
Apple has also sped up the switching time between these different modes. No more missing the action because you were on the video camera last time you used the Camera app. This will be nice. I’ve missed a lot of shots because of the delay.
Filters let you apply Instagram-like filters to your pictures before you take them. This is a neat feature, but I’m not sure how useful it will be. Instagram is the de-facto filter app, especially since it’s got a social network built in. I can’t see this being a hugely used feature, but it’s cool for those that didn’t want to join Instagram.
Say goodbye to the seemingly endless stream of tiled photo thumbnails. Apple felt our pain and has taken it away. The redesigned Photos app now smartly categorizes your photos by location and date, automatically, – called Collections, Moments, and Years.
The iPhone’s camera already logs the location and date for the pictures you take. Photos now uses this information to make it easier than ever to view them. You can see your photos organized by date, with the location associated with them. Those pictures you took of your family at Disneyland are going to be easier to find than ever.
Like with older versions of iOS, Photos also supports Shared Photo Streams. You can select who you’d like to share photos with and let them see them, too. The people you share photos with can also add their own, which is nice. You’ll see updates posted in a timeline-esque feed, displaying them as they come in.
You’ve got the details on Apple’s big announcements for iOS 7, but what else was in store? Plenty of smaller updates are coming our way this fall.
Look and Feel
iOS 7 will now feel more like a part of your wallpaper, making your iPhone seem more alive. Your home screen wallpaper will move with your phone, appearing to flow in a space all its own. The effect is really nice looking, even though it doesn’t add anything major feature-wise. Live wallpapers are also available, further adding to the effect of your iPhone being alive. All across the OS, your wallpaper will have its influence. Pop-overs incorporate your wallpaper’s colors, making things feel like they belong. It truly is a more personal experience.
The unlock screen has a new look and feel. It takes over the entire screen, filling it nicely and changing colors to match your wallpaper.
Did Apple buy Yahoo!? It looks like it when you run the new Weather app. Yahoo! recently launched a redesigned Weather app for the iPhone, and it looks like Apple has fully integrated it. Apple and Yahoo! have partnered on Weather since the original iPhone, so this is hardly surprising. You don’t get the Flickr photos that Yahoo!’s app has, but you do get beautifully animated weather conditions. You can now see a weather overview that shows the current conditions and time of day for your favorite locations.
As Craig Federighi joked, “We just completely ran out of green felt.” He’s referring to the previously-hideous Game Center, of course. The felt and game tables are gone, replaced with an equally odd interface. I’m not sure why Apple can’t seem to get this right, but they still haven’t.
Call and text blocking
Apple finally introduced call blocking with iOS 7. You can now add people to the block list, which prevents calls, texts, and FaceTimes from coming to your phone.
The wooden bookshelves have been recycled, instead showing a Kindle-like interface that focuses more on the books than what they’re sitting on.
Calendar has been redesigned, mostly just removing the “real” calendar look. It’s functionally almost exactly like it was in iOS 6, and that’s a good thing.
Colors pop a little more and there’s a few navigation touches to make it easier to get around each day, but it’s still the same Calendar that we love.
Someone took a hammer to Messages. It’s flat!
It works mostly the same as it did on iOS 6, but you can now swipe from the left to quickly get back to your message list.
Starting to look like Skype, FaceTime has taken on the look of the new Phone app look. We’ll also have the ability to place and receive audio-only calls, further reducing the need to ever use cellular minutes again.
Folders can now house multiple pages. This little touch should help app-obsessed users better categorize their apps and finally get rid of those “Games 2” folders. I’m wondering if I should re-download all of those apps I deleted just because they couldn’t fit into one folder.
Like Messages and Calendars, the Mail system app got a refresh that brings it in line with the other apps. Flatter and whiter, Mail shed much of its flair and gets back to the basics.
Apple has brought back full screen pictures for incoming calls. Previously, only pictures added through the Contacts app directly (and not synched through Outlook or Facebook) would take up the whole screen. Otherwise, you got a little box in the corner. Apple has changed this with iOS 7.
Also flatter. The circus of colors are gone, replaced with a similar look to Mail and Calendar. The 3D mode is still there and as 3D as ever, but the rest of the interface looks much cleaner and easy to use while driving.
Reminders brings in a tabbed interface, letting you flick and select your separate Lists. This works similarly to the new tab view in Safari.
The torn paper has been thrown away, replaced with a much cleaner look. Otherwise its functionally the same as it was.
Like iBooks, Newsstand’s lost its wooden bookshelf. Books now sit on semi-transparent shelves that bring in your wallpaper in for a nice look.
Receiving its first update since the launch of the iPhone, contacts takes on a much more minimalistic approach to browsing your digital collection of people. Icons for contact medium type were added next to numbers and email addresses, showing whether they support iMessage, phone calls, or emails.
Control center sports an official flashlight app… which is cool, I guess.
Developers get their hands on iOS 7 immediately, but the rest of us will have to wait until fall – likely mere days before the availability of the iPhone 5S.