Tuesday, June 11, 2013

iOS 7 is announced. Coming this fall.

We have been waiting for this for so long now, especially ever since Apple announced the WWDC 2013. Today Apple has announced the latest iOS 7 for its squad of iDevices during the KeyNote speech of its WWDC (Word Wide Developer's Conference) and it looks like they have been very busy during the last year revamping the whole iOS platform.

New Flat UI

As it turns out, the rumours about the new Flat UI were true. The presence of Sir Johny Ive's mind at work is surely here and now all the icons as well as different OS components have been given a much more flatter look rather than the 3D one of the 6 previous generations which may even give a Symbian-type feel to some at first look. All the designing now gives it a much more unified  look and now animated wallpapers make an appearance as well. They are not similar to Live wallpapers present on Android devices but certainly better then a static one. Also, instead of bars to represent the presence of network, now iOS will use dots whose color will range from grey to white depending on the presence of network.

Also, gone are the days of slider bar saying "slide to unlock" and all that is present now is a translucent "slide to unlock" message present on the lockscreen.

Better Multitasking

Multi-tasking was first introduced one iDevices back in 2010 with iOS 4 but it wasn't a true multi-tasking system and thus it lacked the functionality many craved for and could find in rival Android smartphones. Apple has tried to solve this issue with iOS 7.

It now has a new card-based system which reminds you of webOS type multi-tasking where each application is seen as a card on the screen. It also now incorporates new smart features to help the device update various applications in the background without becoming a battery hound. iOS 7 now keeps track when you use a specific app (all day or just in the morning or the evening) and lets the app update during that period. It also uses "opportunistic updates" to carry on the updating process. When you wake the device, it's going to use power anyway so iOS lets any available app update run in the background and similarly it also keeps track of signal quality and if it's good, it updates multiple apps at once since the radio is powered on anyway.

Better Notification Center

Notification Center was one of the main attraction points of iOS 5, a couple of years back, and it has been a good update but this time it has been built from the ground up to incorporate the same flat look as other components of the operating system sports. Also, ability to see the notification center at the lockscreen has also been introduced.

Control Center

Apple has finally heard to a long-time demand of its users, the toggles. It has introduced a new Control Center which can be accessed by swiping from down to upwards and houses all the different toggles (as shown in the image). Apart from the toggles, it also has music and screen brightness controls. It also now incorporates the torch thing and thus eliminates the need of downloading a dedicated app for the purpose.


AirDrop is Apple's answer to NFC and Samsung's SmartShare (Apple executives even made a joke about bumping devices together for sharing). It works on the P2P (peer-to-peer) sharing principle and uses wi-fi as a medium. It can work when the person we want to send the images and files is close by. This is the first time Apple is bringing native file sharing support of any sorts and this will be only supported by devices released in 2012 and onwards because of the hardware restrictions.

Smarter Siri

The whole flat concept of UI has come to our very own siri as well which means no more linen. The voices in English, German and French are much smoother (for both male and female) then before and now it can even control toggles like Bluetooth. It, now, also has the power to control screen brightness and it can now be used to search Twitter, Bing and Wikipedia (apart from already present Google Search). It also has a card-based UI in play which indicates a head-to-head competition with Google Now from the Cupertino giants.

New Camera and Gallery

As part of the major redesign and update iOS 7 is, the built-in camera and gallery apps have received huge changes. It is not a plane jane camera app anymore and now come with options to snap pictures in squares or Instagram style aspect ratios and you can even add filters to the photo. There is a graphical change at play here too (which can be seen in the image above).

The gallery has received a new feature which Apple is calling "moments". As soon as you are done shooting, it arranges photographs based on when and where you took them and organizes them under meaningfully given names. Also, Zooming out now generates albums for multi-day trips and further zooming out generates photos grouped by the year they were taken in. It also has AirDrop sharing built right in and iCloud sharing through photo streams has been improved as well. It has received a visual overhaul as well to match the overall look of iOS 7.

Updates to Safari and App Store

Apple's Safari browser for iDevices has received some major changes as well. First of all, the tab switching UI has been changed to a 3D card-based one and now you are no longer limited to only 8 tabs. Secondly, two separate bars are now gone and there is only one smart bar which can be used for searching as well (much like in Google Chrome). A new gesture based feature has also been introduced which allows to go back and forth through your browsing history using horizontal end-to-end swipes. Safari also supports a new feature known as iCloud Keychain which is used to sync passwords and credit card information across devices.

The App Store has received a new feature which lets you get application recommendations based on your geographical location.

Wait! There's more

Apart from video calling, you can now do audio-only calls using FaceTime VoIP service. Moreover, iOS now adds native support for phone, FaceTime and message blocking - something everyone was desperately asking and its biggest competitor, Android, has.

The music player UI has been revamped as well to match the whole iOS 7 look and a new feature, iTunes radio has been added as well.

It is an ad-based music streaming service which is Apple's answer to various music streaming services and works in a very similar way as Pandora does. It is an ad-based service but iTunes match subscribers can use it ad-free. It will be available in US only for now but the reach will expand as time passes by.

Weather application is one of those native iOS apps that have received a major UI and functionality overhaul. It now displays weathers of multiple cities with beautiful weather based animations running in the background and detailed forecast of current date and 5 upcoming days. You can also check out the weather information of more than one city at once.

Apple has also released a promo video for their new and one of the biggest iOS updates till date. Lets have a look at it.

Although Apple has not resorted to using the cheesy marketing lines like "biggest thing to happen to iOS since iOS" but if they would have used this time, no one could have denied it. Sir Johny Ive's presence can easily be seen in the update which is the biggest overhaul to iOS till date.

iOS 7 will be available for consumers on iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod Touch 5th gen, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4 and iPad Mini this fall and iOS developers can have a go at it from today only.


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