This week, Apple released iOS 7 to the public, and it was massive.
There were millions of tweets and posts about iOS 7 24 hours after the release, a lot of developers got to publish the updates they worked on for the past 100 days, with a lot of new updates appearing in the store. I went into the store and took a look at the updates-
Out of 90 apps I constantly use, 40 were updated and half of the updates also featured a beautiful new design for iOS 7. I was surprised(I was expecting a lot more) that only 2 updates were “paid upgrades”(the app’s update was released as a separate app) – Reeder 2 and Clear for iOS 7.
Yesterday, almost a week after the release of iOS 7, Apple announced that they have sold more than 9 million new iPhones and more than 200 million devices are running iOS 7 – Based on this announcement TUAW posted that half of all iOS devices are running iOS 7. It’s insane. Federico Viticci prepared a nice graph of all the first weekend sales, and also wrote a great review about living with iOS 7 you should really check out.
I have been using iOS 7 on both my iPhone and iPad every day since the first beta arrived and here are the features I like the most.
The New Design
The first thing you will notice in iOS 7 is the new design. “Design is not how something looks, it’s how it works” and iOS 7 has been redesigned to show it. Some of the icons might look out of place at first, but they are growing on you. After a few days with iOS 7, I was so used to the new beautiful design and it’s transparent elements, that iOS 6 started feeling really old and outdated.
The color that will follow you around everywhere on iOS 7 is based on the wallpaper you set as your home screen wallpaper. For example, I have a blue wallpaper, so the color of my app folders, spotlight, notification center, control center and pretty much everywhere transparent is blue. It’s a small and delightful detail I really liked.
Automatic App Updates
With iOS 7, the burden of keeping your apps up to date is no more, since iOS 7 will automatically update your apps when an update is available and send you a notification after it updated an app. There are 2 questions I asked myself after upgrading to the beta – What if I want to know what changes did the update bring? and The App Store sends consolidated notifications(for example “Chrome and 4 other apps were updated”) and while this is nice, is there a way to get single app notifications? Sure I could open the App Store app and check the update history but I found a better way. The AppShopper Social app. AppShopper is a great service by MacRumors for app discovery and shopping. The AppShopper app and website offers reviews, Wish List that sends you push notifications for price changes and My Apps where you can add the apps you own and get a notification when an update is available. You can also discover new apps based on AppShopper’s Featured recommendations or your friends feeds if they are using AppShopper. The AppShopper app sent me a notification for every app updated, and I could easily check the changes by opening the AppShopper app from the notification. The app is a perfect addition to the Automatic Updates feature and it’s available for the low price of free, so I recommend you pick it up from the App Store.
The Notification Center and Notifications overall were greatly improved with iOS 7. Notification Center is now linen free and replacing the linen is a black transparent glass that shows a blurred view of what’s underneath. It is organized into 3 views: Today, All and Missed, with Today as an overview of your day (with Weather and Calendar integration), All as the place with all the notifications and missed with notifications you didn’t act upon from the last 24 hours.
The Today View
I really like the Today view and I am using it a lot throughout the day because with just a quick swipe down I can know what my day will be like. It has the date, followed by a textual weather report of what the day will feel like and what’s the first event of the day. Then there is a List view of my upcoming calendar events for the next 3 hours or so. Then, there are Reminders scheduled for today, Stocks if you enable them and Tomorrow for a quick sneak peek to tomorrow’s events. It’s really useful.
Reminders and Calendar notifications contain options that allow you to act on the notification immediately. Reminders allows you to complete the reminder, open the reminders app, remind you again in 15 minutes or close the notification and Calendar allows you to open the event, remind you later or close the notification. If you receive a notification when your device is locked, you can only use the “Remind me later” feature for both of these apps. I hope we’ll see more notifications like this in the future.
Banners were also redesigned and now you can swipe up on a banner to dismiss it or swipe down to open it in the notification center. Photos you receive in the Messages app also have a little preview which is nice.
Notifications on the Lock Screen
A small detail I really like is that now when you receive a notification and your phone is locked, you can still slide to unlock without opening the notification. In iOS 6, when you receive a notification, the “slide to unlock” button changes to “slide to open/reply/etc” and it was really pointless and annoying to me. Also, when you receive a notification, your lock screen wallpaper is blurred and the notification appears on top of it. It’s a nice implementation.
I really like the new organization in the Photos app, Photos are organized by Moments (Time and Place), Collections and Years. It’s beautiful. There is also a new Square mode for taking pictures and Filters for applying filters without Instagram.
iOS 7 includes great new ways to share things with your friends and family. Now all people invited to a Shared Photo Stream can upload photos to the stream and comment on them. You can now make free voice calls with FaceTime Audio and you can share photos or files with nearby people using AirDrop. AirDrop puts files where they belong(a Photo goes to the Photos app, for example) and if it’s not sure where the file belongs it brings up the “Open In…” menu, which is nice.
The New Safari
Safari now supports unlimited tabs, easier Private Mode toggle(I’m always on private mode so It’s not that useful for me but it can be handy if you switch it off a lot) and a new “Favorites” page that shows your Bookmarks and Bookmarklets with the Apple Touch Icon of the website as a thumbnail, it looks good and it’s a great new way to launch bookmarklets on the iPhone.
I was impressed in the first time I used iTunes Radio. It’s better than Spotify’s Radio or Grooveshark’s Radio(My You FM Rdio station isn’t ready yet so I don’t know if it’s better than Rdio) and like many other Apple solutions, it just works. For example, I created a Bruno Mars station and the songs played were songs by Bruno Mars or related artists, Katy Perry Roar Station played Katy Perry songs, True Love by Pink and a Demi Lovato song. If I would create a similar station on Spotify, I get random songs totally not related to Bruno Mars or Katy Perry. It’s great for music discovery and it’s free. All you need is an US Apple ID.
How Apple treats multitasking is something I tried to figure out for a long time.
I keep the apps I use the most open all the time in the multitasking view, and that’s the right way in my opinion to use the multitasking view. I know a lot of people who always close all of their apps from the multitasking view every time after they use an app, I know it frustrates them, and it’s frustrating for me to see it. It doesn’t help if I try to explain that you should keep your most used apps open, they would continue to do that.
In iOS 7 there are new full screen app previews and there’s a new Background Refresh feature that allows apps or iOS 7 to reload data in the background if the app is kept running. The Settings app page for Background Refresh states “Closing apps in the background can increase battery life”, So I thought “Maybe I was wrong and you should close most of your background apps”. In Beta 3, there was a bug that caused the third-generation iPad to only show 9 apps in the multitasking view. So, I thought “Apple was telling people to keep only 9 apps open”. Then after the GM was released(the bug was solved before the GM) I figured it out – I was right – You should keep the apps you use the most open in the background and then, If the app supports background refresh, you will be able to enjoy having your data already loaded when you open the app. After I updated my family’s devices to iOS 7 and explained Background Refresh, they understood and stopped closing all of their background apps. Background Refresh is a great feature, it’s especially nice with apps like Pocket and Felix and I can’t wait to see more apps implement this feature, Dropbox could use it so you won’t have to open the app every 10 minutes to upload Camera Roll photos.
Control Center is a new feature I have been using all the time since upgrading. With a swipe up from anywhere I can access Camera, Clock, Calculator, Flashlight, AirPlay, AirDrop and quick settings toggle for Airplane mode, WiFi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, Screen Auto Rotation, Music controls and volume control. I have been using Flashlight and Airplane toggle the most and I wish I could customize the buttons because I don’t use the stock Calculator app(I use Calzy) and it would be handy to put a shortcut to apps I use a lot like Editorial. But even without custom shortcuts, Control Center is a great addition to iOS.
iPhone 4 and iPad 2
As expected, Apple kept a lot of the new features away from the iPhone 4 and iPad 2. Just to name a few – AirDrop, transparent backgrounds in Control Center and Notification Center buttons, live camera filters and Automatically setting up Apple TV. But they do have most of the features and the iPad 2 version of iOS 7 is probably the most stable iPad version of iOS 7. So, you should upgrade your device, but it’s not a must.
iOS 7 brought changes and improvements to pretty much everything except one thing, Better Inter-app communication. With all of these new improvements now released I hope that the future of iOS holds better communication between apps. I am excited with the new features of iOS 7 and I can’t wait to see what’s next.