After months of rumors, speculations and leaks, Apple finally unveiled the highly-anticipated iOS 7 at the ongoing WWDC 2013. As expected, Apple has given iOS 7 a significant overhaul with the OS looking visibly cleaner and fresher and, the Cupertino-based company has also introduced new features like Control Center, a new Notification Center, improved multitasking, and iTunes Radio among others. The layered UI gives a sense of parallax when the device is moved, providing depth to the interface.
The first thing you will notice is the absence of even the slightest hint of skeuomorphism or any 3D effect and the OS is quite flat. From the very first screen you see the difference, with unlock bar at the bottom of the lock screen replaced with a translucent ‘Slide to Unlock’. As we reported earlier today, the network bar at the top of the screen has been replaced with five little dots, which are white and grey depending on how strong the signal is.
Once you go deeper you see more differences, the icons look quite different with a white background, the linen on the notifications has been replaced by a translucent background and now shows more information than before and lastly the keyboard gets a white color scheme but with translucency.
Apple also previewed quite a few new features tonight and they are as follows.
Control Center: Apple seems to have heard the pleas of many and has introduced a translucent slide-able window which allows one to toggle certain settings like brightness, volume, Wi-fi, Airplane mode and Bluetooth, from anywhere on in the phone. The Control Center even offers a flashlight, along with tabs for music, camera, and other quick-access apps. All you have to do is slide up from the bottom edge of the display from anywhere in the UI to reveal the Center.
Multitasking: This is something we feel has been taken right from Android’s textbooks, by letting users multitask between apps. The double-tap, which earlier revealed only an icon list of apps that were functioning, now seems to offer live previews. Unlike earlier when only some native Apple apps got true multitasking, iOS 7 now enables developers to add a new multitasking option in their apps. However, iOS will determine what apps users use frequently and will update them according to that frequency. While it isn’t absolutely clear at the moment, iOS will also update apps at “opportune” times when the radio is anyway awake.
Safari: The native web browser now gets the full-screen mode and a unified smart search field, much like what was recently introduced on the Chrome. Tabs too get a new UI with all the tabs now stacked in a vertical manner and unlike before when Apple only allowed eight tabs, now users can open and switch between unlimited tabs. Just like the OS X Mavericks version, the iOS 7 version also gets the iCloud Keychain feature to keep user’s sensitive information safe and at hand.
AirDrop: Apple has taken the fight right to NFC’s doors with this feature, which allows users to share things with other iOS device users simply by clicking on one’s name. The feature uses peer-to-peer Wi-Fi to share things and hence there is no need to tap devices with each other. AirDrop is currently compatible with the iPhone 5, iPad 4th gen and iPad mini.
Camera: Apple didn’t show much of the features on the camera, but it did give a glimpse at the new UI that lets users swipe between various camera types, such as panorama or HDR. The Photo gallery too has been given an overhaul with photos now automatically categorized and organized according to moments based on date, and location. Users can use AirDrop to share photos and videos on their gallery as well as share their photo streams with others in a new feature called Shared Photo Streams.
Siri: The voice assistant on iOS devices too has been given a tweak or two with a new voice and an option to choose between male or female voice. Siri now speaks in additional languages like French and German, with more languages set to be added soon. Siri has also been integrated with settings, letting you tell her to turn on Bluetooth, adjust brightness. Websites like Twitter, Wikipedia, too have been integrated and much of the search results are now shown via Bing.
iOS in the Car: With around 95 percent of car companies in the US now compatible with iOS devices, this feature puts the iOS UI on the car’s HUD. One can call/receive calls, search for directions, listen to music and more.
App Store: The store now recommends apps to users based on age and their current location. But the biggest update of all that will come as a relief to many is automatic updating of the apps. Now apps will automatically update apps in the background without waiting for users to manually go to the App Store and update them.
iTunes Radio: Apple’s Pandora-like music streaming service has been speculated on a lot in the last few weeks and the Cupertino-based company has finally announced the service. It functions similar other music-streaming services with users getting access to the huge music collection on Apple’s iTunes. One can search for songs based on the current trend or the genres and can also customize each station by clicking a star to show that you want more of this type of music. iTunes Match users will get an ad-free experience, but others will be able to use the app for free with a few audio and text ads. The ad-supported version is free while the premium version will cost $24.99 a year.
Activation Lock: Apple concluded the iOS 7 preview with this very important feature that has really beefed up the security on the iOS devices. If the phone is stolen and a thief tries to turn off the ‘Find My iPhone’ app, or tries to wipe the phone data, he won’t be able to activate the device without your iCloud password.
In addition to the above, the Mail, Calendar, Weather and Messaging apps too have been given tweaks with a refreshed UI and new animations in the case of the Weather app. The Notification Center now shows more information and just like Android it is accessible in the lock screen too.
iOS 7 for the iPhone has been released today itself in a Beta variant for developers, while the Beta for iPad will be released in the coming weeks. The OS will be released to the masses later this year and will be compatible with iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, iPad mini and the 5th generation iPod Touch.
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