iOS 7: The Most Comprehensive Look at New Features and Improvements

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Apple unveiled iOS 7, the next generation mobile operating system for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch during the WWDC 2013 Keynote in June.

It sports a new user interface and over 200 new features including the all-new Control Center, improved Notification Center, smarter multitasking, all-new camera app with real-time filters, new Photos app, AirDrop for iOS, iTunes Radio and lots more.

With just a few days to go for the iOS 7 release, we take a look at all the major new features and improvements.

All-New User interface

One of the first things you will notice when you upgrade to iOS 7 is the all-new user interface. After launching the iPhone in 2007, it is the first time Apple has given iOS such a major makeover.

Apple has redesigned the Lock screen, the Home screen, changed the way it displays carrier signals, added translucency to the Notification Center and Control Center, redesigned the icons for the stock apps using a new grid system and lots more.

Apple has given the operating system a sense of dimension by creating distinct and functional layers, which can be intuitively accessed using new gestures. The physics engine is even more accentuated in iOS 7, which is highlighted by the cool Camera slide bounce effect that obeys the law of gravity.

Despite all these changes, iOS 7 should still be familiar to current users.

In addition to the all-new user interface, iOS 7 also includes the following major features:

The New Lock Screen

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The lock screen sports a minimalistic user interface, gone is the iconic slide to unlock slider button. Instead you’re greeted with just the “slide to unlock” text with a subtle animation that highlights the text that hints at the direction in which you need to slide to unlock the lock screen.

In addition to quick access to the Camera app, you can access the Notification Center and the all-new Control Center from the Lock screen, thus letting you to do a lot more from the lock screen, without unlocking the device.

Check the complete iOS 7 Lock screen preview.

Parallax Effect

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Apple’s vision for realism in interfaces was finally seen with iOS 7, where UI elements live in layers at different depths along the z-axis, and react to motion differently, creating a parallax effect where objects closer to the eye move faster than ones that are farther away.

You’ll see parallax not just on the home screen, lock screen and in stock iOS apps, but even in third-party apps, since Apple’s opening up those APIs as a part of the iOS 7 SDK.

Apple’s clearly not given up on realism in interfaces (often called skeuomorphism) with iOS 7, just that they’ve moved on from fake leather and linen textures to 3D UI elements.

Check this post for the in-depth look at iOS 7’s Parallax Effect.

All-new Control Center

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Quick access to system toggles has been one of the most requested features since a very long time or at least since SBSettings was released back in February 2009.

Apple didn’t disappoint us this year as iOS 7 comes with a new feature called Control Center that gives us quick access to system toggles, brightness control, music playback controls, app shortcuts, quick access to AirDrop and AirPlay feature.

Check the complete iOS 7 Control Center preview.

Improved Notification Center

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The Notification Center has also been revamped. The grey linen background of the Notification Center has been replaced by a translucent/blurred background. It has a dark tint compared to the Control Center, with light smudges based on the color of the app icons or what’s underneath. Like the camera slider, Notification Center obeys the laws of gravity, if you slam it down, it’ll bounce.

The Notification Center has three tabs: Today, All and Missed. Today is a Google Now-like feature that shows you the current date and time, along with information about the current weather, your next appointment, traffic conditions before you leave for work and lots more.

Check the complete iOS 7 Notification Center preview.

Smarter Multitasking

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Multitasking is no longer restricted to certain types of apps, iOS 7 brings multitasking support to all apps. Apple has achieved smarter multitasking in a number of ways to ensure you have the latest content when you launch an app, but by also ensuring it does not have a major impact on battery life.

When you double press the Home button to access the multitasking tray/app switcher, you will be greeted with an all-new card-based interface quite similar to the tab switching interface in mobile Safari. It displays the preview of the app you are running along with the logo of the app.

Check the complete iOS 7 smarter multitasking preview.

All-new Camera app with real-time filters

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Apple has completely revamped the user interface of the Camera app and added much needed features such as real-time filters and Instagram-like Square mode.

The Camera app also takes advantage of a new image signal processor built into iPhone 5s’ A7 chip to give you up to 2x faster autofocus, faster photo capture, and higher video frame rates.

Apple has also significantly improved performance of the Camera app in iOS 7, so taking a photo should be lightning fast.

Check the complete iOS 7 Camera app preview.

New Photos App

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The Photos app has been updated with the familiar iOS 7 user interface with the white background and flatter design.

The Photo app automatically organizes photos into Collections, Moments and Years, so you don’t have an endless stream of unorganized photos in your Camera roll. The Collections view is a grouping of moments such as your trip to San Francisco. Moments view groups photos based on the location or a date. For example, on your trip to San Francisco, if you visited Union Square and AT&T Park, photos and videos taken at each of these locations will be individually grouped together as a Moment. Years view is quite simply, photos and videos grouped by year.

Check the complete iOS 7 Photos app preview.

Siri gets a new look and can finally control Settings

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Siri has received another overhaul, and according to reports will be officially out of beta when iOS 7 is released. The first thing you will notice when you tap and hold the Home button to launch Siri is the all new user interface. In iOS 7, Siri’s UI takes over the entire screen rather than sliding up from the bottom of the screen and just occupying just a portion of the screen.

One of the biggest and most controversial changes in Siri has been Apple’s decision to ditch Google in favor of Bing for web search results. The web search results powered by Bing are now displayed within Siri’s UI, instead of launching Safari.

You can finally enable or disable system settings toggles using Siri. Siri is also integrated with Twitter and Wikipedia.

Check the complete iOS 7 Siri preview.

Activation Lock makes Find My iPhone more foolproof

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Apple introduced Find My iPhone back in 2010 as a way for iOS users to locate their device in case it was lost or stolen. It also offers an easy method to remotely delete all the data on your device to protect sensitive information. They’ve quite a few success stories reported in the media about people using the service to find their lost or stolen devices.

Unfortunately, it had a major weakness, it was very easy for someone to erase and restore the device as a new device, and use it again. Apple has addressed this limitation with a new feature called Activation Lock in iOS 7, that ties your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with your Apple ID, which makes it next to impossible for someone other than you to use or sell your device.

Check the complete Find my iPhone with Activation Lock preview.

AirDrop

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If you’re a Mac user, then you’re probably familiar with AirDrop. Apple had introduced AirDrop for Mac with the release of OS X Lion in 2011, which allowed users to share files without the need of a Wi-Fi network or any configuration and without the need of storage devices.

AirDrop for iOS allows you to quickly transfer files between two iOS devices without the need of a Wi-Fi network. AirDrop works by creating an adhoc Wi-Fi network between the iOS devices, and doesn’t need any configuration. Unfortunately, AirDrop for iOS does not allow you to transfer files to your Mac.

Check the complete iOS 7 AirDrop preview.

Safari

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iOS 7 Safari sports a new fullscreen look, where the search field at the top and the toolbar at the bottom disappear when you’re browsing, and shows you the content with domain name of the website in the status bar.

The search and address bar have also been merged into a new unified smart search field, that allows you to type the url of the website or search. You can navigate back and forth through the browser history using gestures. You can go back to the previous webpage by swiping from the left edge of the display and go forward by swiping from the right edge of the display.

Check out the complete iOS 7 Safari preview

Redesigned Music App with iTunes Radio

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The Music app retains the same structure and interaction as its iOS 6 counterpart, but has received a whole new coat of paint to go with Apple’s new “flat” design language.

Apple has also integrated its long rumored streaming music service, iTunes Radio into the Music app. It’s very much like Pandora, where you can’t listen to on-demand songs, but simply generate music stations based on a certain song.

Check out the complete iOS 7 Music and iTunes Radio preview.

Redesigned Apps

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Jony Ive, Apple’s Head of Design has rethought the user interface to make it unobtrusive, with all “ornamentation” like fake linen and leather being stripped away to give importance to content. You’ll see this applied to all stock apps in iOS 7.

Check the complete preview of some of the redesigned apps in iOS 7:

Gestures

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iOS 7 comes with an all-new user interface, but another aspect of the new interface that hasn’t been talked about much is the importance given to gestures. There are a bunch of new gestures that help you navigate throughout iOS.

So in stock apps like Settings, Mail, Messages etc, you can go back to the previous screen with a swipe. You can now close an app in the app switcher with a swipe. You can go back to the previous webpage by swiping from the left edge of the display and go forward by swiping from the right edge of the display. And there is lots more.

New Ringtones and Alert Tones

Last week, during the iPhone event, Apple announced that iOS 7 will come with new textured ringtones and new alert tones. The classics have also been remastered to sound better.

Business Features

iOS 7 brings a number of new features for business users such as managed Open In, per app VPN, third-party data protection, Enterprise Single Sign-on etc.

Check the details of iOS 7 features for Business and Enterprise users.

Third-Party Apps

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iOS 7 includes over 1500 new APIs, in addition to the 200 new features and improvements. So while we’ve already seen photos and videos of the new iOS 7 features, the biggest surprise could come from developers, who have been busy redesigning their apps to bring it in sync with iOS 7’s all-new user interface.

Based on what we’ve heard, iOS 7 has forced developers to rethink every element of their apps user interface. You can expect your favorite apps to lose those unnecessary ornamentation on the navigation buttons or lose navigation buttons all together in favor of gestures.

You can also expect your favorite apps to become even better when they get support for iOS 7’s smarter multitasking feature.

Check out this post for more details on how your favorite apps will become even better in iOS 7.

MFi Game Controllers:

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If you’re a hardcore gamer, then the good news is that Apple has added APIs for MFi (Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad) game controllers.

The APIs will finally allow accessory manufacturers to create game controllers for Apple’s iOS devices, which should make them an attractive alternative for hardcore gamers who prefer to use portable gaming devices like Playstation Vita.

Check this post for the details about iOS 7 and MFi Game Controllers.

Notable Features

Here are some of the notable features:

Exhaustive list of iOS 7 Features:

Check out the exhaustive list of iOS 7 features here.

Compatible Devices

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The following devices are compatible with iOS 7:

  • iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4
  • iPad 4, iPad 3, iPad 2, iPad mini
  • iPod touch 5G

Here’s the list of features that won’t be available on older iOS devices

Release Date

Apple has announced that iOS 7 will be released this Wednesday, September 18.

This post and other iOS 7 posts wouldn’t have been possible without the tips and the screenshots you folks had sent, so thank you very much. You folks rock!

Let me know what you think of iOS 7. Do you plan to upgrade when iOS 7 is released or you plan to hold off until the iOS 7 jailbreak is released?