You’ve waiting patiently since June, but today is finally the day when iOS 7 is released for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. iOS 7 is a significant update from iOS 6 that may give you the satisfaction of new tech without making a financial investment. If you’re itching to get a new phone but don’t want to buy one, updating to iOS 7 may give you the new features you want without having to spend any money.
iOS 7 became available beginning today at 10 am PDT, but before you update, make sure you’re taking the proper steps to make the process go as smoothly as possible. iOS 7 is available free for:
- iPhone 4 and later
- iPad 2 and later
- iPod Touch 5th generation
New iPhones, the 5c and 5s, will come with iOS 7 installed.
Why Upgrade to iOS 7
iOS 7 is packed with features, but the most obvious change is the brand new look that iOS 7 will give your device. The new color pallet is bright and the font has been updated for a more modern look. Gone are the skeumorphic icons that try to trick the eye into believing that you’re seeing a physical object instead of a digital one. No more faux felt, stitched leather or shadowed images. iOS 7 icons rest on a home page that seems to float as you move the phone, giving a parallax view of the screen.
Information is displayed in translucent layers to reduce the need to switch back and forth between apps. Choosing your wallpaper becomes more important with iOS 7 as the colors of the image show through in places like the phone keypad and Settings.
iOS 7 adds animation and movement so a prediction of rainfall in the Apple weather app displays raindrops falling.
- Sound Volume
- Music Controls
- Airplane Mode
- Do Not Disturb
- and other controls
No more need to leave an app and open Settings to make these adjustments. Control Center opens in a layer above the app you were using so you can get back to the task at hand directly.
Swipe down from the top of the screen to reveal Notification Center and see the important alerts on your device. You can sort these notifications by Today, All and Missed. In Today you can see weather and calendar information.
You can access Notification Center from the lock screen of your phone so you don’t have to enter a passcode (or use fingerprint ID) to see your alerts.
Imagine waking up every morning, turning on your device and seeing your email, Facebook, Twitter and other apps already updated. If you like that idea, you’ll like the powerful Multitasking of iOS 7.
The new multitasking is designed to maximize the efficiency of running and updating apps. Your device will learn your habits and perform updates ahead of time. Apps will update automatically when you’re connected to Wi-Fi.
If you have multiple apps open, you can swipe through screens and the icons.
Closing your apps will be easier too. Just swipe up on a page or on an icon from the bottom dock to close an app.
Safari will be easier to navigate. Websites open in layered tabs displaying full screens. You can have an unlimited number of web pages open, scroll through them, then swipe to close. Drag and drop to reorder the pages on your screen.
Camera and Photos
iOS 7 brings new editing features to photos, including filters and cropping. You also will be able to organize your photos into Collections, according to places and dates.
Siri will come with a choice of voices and will connect to Twitter and Wikipedia. You’ll also be able to use Siri to adjust the Settings on your device.
You will be able to transfer files, photos, contacts and other information directly between devices using iOS 7 using AirDrop. This feature works over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth so you don’t need to use up your monthly data to transfer data.
iOS 7 introduces iTunes Radio, a free music streaming service where you can create personalized stations based on song, artist, genre or a song you already own in iTunes. The service also comes with over 200 pre-programmed featured stations to help you discover new music.
You can teach it which music you like to hear and purchase any songs you like directly from iTunes. You can use Siri to control iTunes Radio.
If you want ad-free listening, you can purchase a subscription for $24.95/year which also gives you iTunes Match.
For more information on Features in iOS 7, including Apps Near Me, Siri updates and more, see WWDC 2013 – What’s New at Apple. You can also watch the video from Apple introducing iOS 7:
How to Update to iOS 7
Before you update your device to iOS 7, you should follow some important steps to make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible.
1. Make sure that iOS 7 is available for your device (see above).
2. Close all of your open apps. See, Close Your Apps! for instructions on how to make sure all of your open apps are closed.
3. Check how much space you have free on your device. Go into Settings => General => About => Available. This update uses 3 GB of space. You may need to delete photos, videos, music and apps to clear out space. You cannot add space to your iDevice so make sure to splurge and get more than you think you’ll need the next time you buy a new one.
4. Back up your device. Whether you back up your device to your computer or to iCloud, you want to take this important step. If your update goes haywire, you want to be able to restore your device to its previous state. For instructions on how to back up your device, see Apple, iOS: How to back up and restore your content
5. Perform the update. Whether you do an over the air update or connect to iTunes on your computer, follow the steps set forth by Apple’s website.
When to Update to iOS 7
When you update to iOS 7 will depend upon how excited you are to get ahold of the new features. Waiting can have advantages. The update becomes available today so Apple’s servers will probably be taxed by early adopters, making downloads slower today.
Although iOS 7 has been tested for months by developers, today’s release will likely reveal undiscovered bugs in the system. Apple will probably release 7.0.1 within a few days to fix those bugs. Last year, iOS 6 took away Google Maps and gave us Apple Maps, causing many people to wait until December when Google Maps became available again to upgrade to iOS 6.
This update is a radical change so some apps may not work well or at all with iOS 7. If you have an app you can’t (or don’t want to) live without, wait and read app reviews on iTunes to see if your favorite apps play nicely with iOS 7. Also check to see if your apps have been updated for iOS 7.
Make sure you have planned plenty of time to perform this update. Major updates such as this one can take a long time (think hours) to complete. Learning the new features may take some concentration so updates only when you have a few moments to familiarize yourself with the new look, feel and operation of your device.
If you have an older device, such as an iPhone 4 or an iPad 2, waiting can also help you determine whether your device will perform with iOS 7. If iOS 7 challenges the hardware of those devices, you may want to stick with iOS 6, at least for a while. iOS 7 may compromise the stability and performance of your older device, so waiting to update will allow others to be the early adopters and reveal issues.
Once you update to iOS 7, you can’t go back to iOS 6. If you decide you miss the faux leather stitching on the Find My Friends app or the felt of Game Center, you won’t be able to get it back after you update. Similarly, if your older device crashes or runs slowly with iOS 7, you won’t be able to revert to iOS 6.
But if you just can’t wait to update, I understand. Me too.
Update: Many trying to update to iOS 7 today have had long waits and have been unsuccessful.
— Alex Colasante (@AlexColasante97) September 18, 2013
Are you upgrading to iOS 7? Will you be an early adopter? Which features excite you the most? Do you like the new look of iOS 7? Will you use iTunes Radio? Will you change Siri’s voice? Let us know in the Comments section below!