Apple yesterday unveiled its greatest redesign of iOS, iOS 7. I’ll refrain from going overboard with my comments about the new OS since it hardly meets the high expectations that I had set for Apple (after-all Apple is special. Right?) after the more gorgeous concept videos that we were treated to a few weeks ago by many Apple fanboys. Still, the new iOS version is a beauty in its own right. It may not be as revolutionary and much of an overhaul as was widely expected but it does rise up to the occasion. As per many iOS enthusiasts, iOS had grown stale and was in dire need of a refresh or overhaul or just about anything different. And that is what we have on the table. Something different. Still waiting for the usual wording associated with iSpeak to pop up: “intuitive”, “revolutionary”, “it just works”.
So what does iOS 7 bring to the table?
No one does design better than Apple. That cuts across the board from the hardware (can you dispute that the iPhones usually have a superior design? Obviously not) to the software (I’m sure you’ve heard of Englishman Jony Ive’s prowess in this department. I’ll leave it there). That does not change with iOS 7. Apple did shed all that skeumorphic design for more flat and attractive icons complete with a thinned out font to go with it. The results? Something striking, appealing to the eye. As far as simplicity goes, though what I’ve seen are only official press images released by Apple besides clips of the event, they went a bit too far as far as minimalism is concerned but hey, that’s just me. And who said it is bad? In design, I am told, less is better. In other news notice that Roboto font (eeerm Helvetica Neue much?)? Seen MIUI Android custom ROMs? Oh, wait, seen the stock Android lock screen? Thermonuclear. Read on.
For those of us who are avid Android users, the quick settings toggles on the notification bar and dropdown are something that has always been there. That is not the case with our brothers in the walled garden. They’ve finally seen the light and Apple is opening up a bit, it will let them be able to quickly toggle Airplane mode on and off from the comfort of what Cupertino calls the Control Centre. Oh and screen brightness too. It is now easy to adjust brightness on iDevices thanks to this. I can’t remember the number of times I’ve read contributors on Apple-centric blogs wish that they could have quick access to their settings instead of going two to three steps to be able to just turn on the Do Not Disturb feature. Nature has a funny way of answering one’s wishes. The fruit guys had their way this time round. I’m happy for them.
Surprise Surprise! The
now allows iOS users to access it from the lock screen. I know you’ve been taking this for granted on your Droid. It is big news over in the walled garden. Besides, iOS users will be able to get a quick glance of what their activities for the day are right from the notification centre. Think weather, traffic, upcoming events etc.
Unlike that small row of icons that iOS users have all along been made to believe is multi-tasking, there is a shift towards the right direction. Finally. If what was demoed yesterday and also captured in press images like one below is anything to go by then that’s the first step in the right direction. I hope by multi-tasking they really mean it and it is not a secretive hob knob of task switching but rather multi-tasking in every sense of the word.
As of now, I don’t know the technology (I’m aware it works over Wi-Fi though) behind AirDrop but it is one awesome addition. AirDrop simply allows you to share content with guys in your contact list who are close by just selecting their name and sharing. Apple says this sort of sharing is very secure (uses encryption) so there is no chance that information can be leaked.
The camera is the heart of a smartphone. As such, any mobile operating system targeting the masses must have a special place for the shooter. iOS 7 is no different. Besides reworking the whole camera app complete with no skeumorphic effects, Apple is throwing in some new filters. “The Camera app now includes a square camera option, and you can quickly and easily switch between your four cameras—video, photo, square and panorama—with just a swipe.”
When I checked out what this one does, only one thing came to mind: Story Album! Story Album is an awesome feature on the Galaxy S4. Moments may not be Story Album but it does not fall far off behind. The Photos app on iOS has been reworked too to include Moments. Moments, in true Story Album fashion, organizes your photos based on time and location.
iCloud Photo Sharing
With it, family and friends can share photos to your own existing photo streams.
One of my favourite browsers on PC after Chrome and Firefox. Actually one of my prayers is that one day Apple will make this browser of theirs multi-platform on mobile. Mobile Safari didn’t miss out too. It has a redesigned interface. Besides Smart Search Field to aid in quick searching while using mobile Safari and a new way to view your bookmarks and tabs, there’s an inbuilt Enhanced Parental Controls to make sure all the undesired content on the web is not available to minors and iCloud Keychain, another Apple version of Lastpass to manage your credentials all over the internet. Plus, surprise surprise, it now has the top sites feature. I know you have been having that on Chrome (just a few days from today Chrome for iOS will be marking its first anniversary) but according to Cook and Co, Chrome and Firefox are actually a memory hog, they eat upto 13% of your active memory and that it is “sad” to use Firefox and Chrome. How about that? Never mind how popular Chrome is on those iOS devices (Or I got that one wrong?). Sad thing though, the OS was not opened up to allow users to pick a different default browser from mobile Safari. Quite the walled garden the heavenly Apple ecosystem has always been. Fort Knox.
I have been an admirer of Siri for a while and I’m happy to see it just getting better by the day. Siri now has deep Twitter, Wikipedia and Bing integration and as a result can be used in more versatile ways than before. We know of Apple’s walled-garden approach hence anything to deeply integrate social media sharing gets what I feel is totally undeserved attention.
iTunes Radio has for long been rumoured to be coming. The latest was the leaked reports suggesting that Apple had finally got Sony to sign up for its “iRadio” service paving the way for its introduction today. Indeed this came to pass. iTunes radio is a radio streaming service a la Google Play Music All Access and it is baked into iOS’ Music app as part of the redesign that app underwent. Just like it had been widely anticipated, iTunes Radio will be free and only supported by ads. For iTunes Match users, the agony of ads will be one they won’t experience.
The App Store
It has a new Popular Apps Near Me category for finding apps based on time and location.
It will also from now have all the apps automatically updates.
There’s a also a new Kid’s category in the new arrangement for easily discovering apps for the young ones.
There are various other small iOS 7 goodies that I may have overlooked. Feel free to add them though I left them out due to the fact that the above have a large fore-bearing on the iOS community. I know quite a number of my readers are die-hard team iOS. Don’t throw stones at me now, just reflecting on the goodies you’re getting from WWDC this year. What is your comment about the iOS 7? Does it meet your expectations? Some (yours truly included) feel it is a rip-off of other platforms (cough Windows Phone cough. Let’s not even talk about Android now shall we?). Is that true or is it just that our fanboyism is showing?
As usual, all press images on iOS 7 can be found on Facebook.