This week Apple is holding its World Wide Developers Conference, WWDC, where the company announces updates to its hardware and software. In the Keynote address, Apple made lots of announcements about what’s coming in the fall, making Apple fans wish the summer away and anticipate autumn eagerly.
If you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, they’re going to look a lot different soon. Apple has been working hard transforming its iOS operating system to look more modern. iOS 7 will add new features and appearance to these devices, using a new font and new pallet of bright colors to make iDevices look more modern. Displays are translucent, layered over other displays. More information will be animated and 3D effects will be used.
Swiping becomes more important in iOS 7, perhaps to make up for the lack of a Back button on iDevices. You can swipe controls to close apps, delete emails, close open pages in Safari and much more. You just can’t swipe to type, much to the disappointment of many who were looking for the Swype app method of typing as part of the update.
Note that iOS 7 will only be available for the iPhone 4 and later models, the iPod Touch, the iPad 2 and later models and the iPad Mini. If you have an iPhone 3GS, you won’t be able to upgrade to iOS 7.
You can check out the new features in videos available at Apple’s iOS 7 website.
The current iOS design uses icons that resemble actual physical objects, such as the stitched leather on Find My Friends or the felt on Game Center. This trick of the eye, known as skeumorphism, is now considered dated in the tech world. If you haven’t already added the word skeumorphism to your vocabulary, well don’t bother.
The new icons are brighter, flatter and more transparent than the old ones. Some may look familiar, others are completely redesigned.
Safari will have both new features and a new look in iOS 7. You can have unlimited tabs open that appear in vertical layers you scroll through to view and swipe to close. You can also drag and drop tabs to rearrange them.
Share Links will let you see the URL’s posted by people you follow on Twitter so you can see the sites and the tweets on one screen. You can also access your bookmarks and reading list more easily on Safari.
Safari will be able to remember all of your account names, passwords and credit card numbers on your Mac running OSX Mavericks (see below) and your iDevices running iOS 7. Safari will also be able to generate unique passwords for you and remember them across your Apple devices.
You’ll be able to organize and update your apps more easily in iOS 7. You’ll be able to add an unlimited amount of apps to a folder so you can have one Games or Utilities folder and put all of those apps into that folder.
Apps will automatically update so you don’t have to worry about the number in the red circle growing as your list of apps needing updates expands.
Apps Near Me can show you a list of popular apps near your location. You can also find a Kids category in the iTunes App Store with age appropriate apps.
Siri will be updated in iOS 7 with a new look, new voices and new sources information. Instead of a rotating purple circle, Siri will display sound waves to show you when it’s at work. Siri also will be able to access Bing, Twitter and Wikipedia to bring you answers to your queries.
Apple is going to make it easier for you to access frequently used controls on your iDevice. Instead of opening Settings and hunting for the controls, you’ll be able to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal Control Center.
Control Center is a semi-transparent display that covers about 3/4 of your screen, revealing controls for important settings such as
- Sound Volume
- Music Controls
- Airplane Mode
- Do Not Disturb
- and other controls
Notification Center has been updated to help you find the information that’s most important to you. Notifications are now arranged into three tabs: Today, All and Missed. In Today you can see what information you need for the day such as weather and calendar. Missed shows you the notifications that happened while you were away from your phone, such as phone calls, text messages and other alerts.
New to iOS 7 is the ability to access Notifications from the Lock Screen so you can see them without the need to enter your password first.
In Close Your Apps! I discussed the perils of multitasking, keeping apps open and running in the background. iOS 7 addresses some of these issues with updated multitasking. iOS 7 learns your preferences and updates apps even before you open them, called “intelligent scheduling”. For example, if you check Facebook every morning at 7 am, your iPhone will automatically update your Facebook app in the morning so your Facebook stream is ready for you when you open the app, without you having to wait for it to update.
iOS 7 also schedules updates according to when your iPhone is connected to Wi-Fi so you aren’t depleting your monthly data allotment. Updates will also occur when a push notification is sent from an app so you will be able to access the new information as soon as you open the app.
You’ll also be able to see full screens of open apps as you scroll through them.
Apple also is trying to eliminate the confusion between closing an app and deleting it from your phone. To close an app in iOS 7, you swipe the icon up and out of the bottom dock.
Apple will be giving you more editorial control over your photos in iOS 7. In addition to the still, video and panoramic images you can take now, you will be able to take square photos, so your image is cropped when you press the shutter button.
iOS 7 also includes filters for the camera app you can add even before you take the picture to see what the image would look like. This feature will only be available for iPhone 5 and iPod Touch 5th generation.
If your Photo Stream looks like a mass of unorganized pictures, you’ll probably appreciate the automatic organization that the new Photos app will bring. Every photo you’ve ever taken with your iPhone has been tagged with the place and date it was taken. Apple is using that data to organize your photos automatically.
With iOS 7, you’ll be able to sort your photos into Collections, by places and dates. Apple figures that if you took a lot of photos at a certain place in a short time period, chances are you’ll want to have those photos grouped together in a Collection. Makes sense.
You can sort through Collections by place and date. You can also see all of your photos taken during a calendar year grouped together.
The Photos App will also have filters available in iOS 7.
You’ll be able to share your photos with others using iCloud, via a shared photo stream. Shared photos will automatically appear on the others’ iDevices (so be careful not to overshare).
Perhaps in an effort to put Bump out of business, or assuage those who may be complaining about the lack of NFC in the next iPhone, Apple has added AirDrop to iOS 7. AirDrop allows you to share files such as photos, videos, documents, contacts with other iDevice users via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. File transfers are encrypted for added security.
You can use Control Center to adjust the visibility of your device to others using AirDrop to no one, your contacts only or everyone.
Apple will be allowing app developers to offer AirDrop as a sharing option in third party apps.
AirDrop will only be available on the latest model of iDevices using iOS 7. So if your iDevice has a Lightning connector (as opposed to a 30-pin connector), you’ll be able to use AirDrop.
Find My iPhone
If your iPhone is gone for good, you’ll be able to wipe it permanently using Find My iPhone. You can reactivate it using your Apple ID and password, but thieves won’t be able to reactive it without that information.
iOS in the Car
You’ll be able to use your iDevice in the car, using iOS in the Car. Siri, iTunes Radio, Apple Maps, and iMessage can be displayed on the dashboard in compatible vehicles. Look for iOS in the Car beginning with certain 2014 models of Acura, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Opel, and Volvo.
Apple will be starting a streaming radio service in the fall, iTunes Radio. Similar to Pandora, iTunes Radio will create custom radio stations based on a song, artist, or genre you like. If you’re playing a song from your iTunes Library, you can turn that into a station.
You can also listen to 200 different pre-programmed stations based on music genres and access your history of songs you’ve heard on iTunes Radio.
Like Pandora, you can teach iTunes Radio what you like and don’t like so it learns your music taste. You can adjust the mix of hits versus new songs.
You’ll be able to control iTunes Radio using Siri and ask Siri to identify the song that’s playing on iTunes Radio.
If you enjoy a song you’re listening to on iTunes Radio, you can add it to your Wish List, either manually or with Siri, to purchase it for your iTunes Library.
iTunes Radio will be available on iDevices, Mac and PC computers and Apple TV. Your music will sync between devices so you can stop listening to a song on one device and pick up where you left off on another.
iTunes Radio will be launched in the fall and will be free. If you want your iTunes Radio experience to be ad-free, purchase iTunes Match for $24.95/year and your wish will be granted.
Android Fans — Been There Done That
After the Keynote was over but before the venue had emptied of attendees, Android fans began comparing iOS 7 innovations with features that have been available on Android for a while. For a comparison of iOS 7 vs. Android, from an Android fan, check out iOS 7 vs. Android – A Quick Feature Comparison After the WWDC Keynote.
Apple also made other announcements, such as an updated operating system for Macs, called 10.8, a/k/a Mavericks, a new Mac Pro, and an update to the MacBook Air line of computers.
No updates to the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch were announced, look for those in the fall as well.
Are you excited about the release of iOS 7 in the fall? Will you be tuning into iTunes Radio? Which new features of iOS 7 do you like best? Which innovations would you like to have seen? Let us know in the Comments section below!