Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My Top 5 iOS 7 features (so far)

Happy iOS 7-eve!

Since the launch of the original iPhone in 2007 users of Apple’s famous handsets have been running some version of the companies mobile operating system known as “iOS” (i Operating System). Most iPhone users are currently using iOS 6, but many people may not be able to tell much of a difference between iOS 6 and the original version of the OS which debuted in 2007. In a little less than 24 hours that will change. Tomorrow millions of iPhone’s around the world will be updated to Apple’s latest and greatest version of iOS, iOS 7.

I have been using the GM (Grand Master) version of iOS 7 since it was released last Wednesday. Simply put, the “Grand Master” version is the final build of the OS that Apple sends to developers ahead of it’s public launch. To say I’m impressed with Apple’s new take on their iconic mobile OS would be the understatement of the century.

Based on my experience with iOS7 in the last week, I have chosen 5 new features from iOS 7 that I think people will love.

AirDrop: In iOS 7 Apple brings AirDrop to your iPhone. This is a handy feature that allows you to share photos, videos or documents with anyone near you that has an iPhone and it's done so with a single screen tap. My girlfriend and I went on a little vacation this past weekend and we used AirDrop often to quickly send pictures to each other. Another helpful feature is that whatever type of file you're sending AirDrop will store it in the correct location from the start. For example, in the past in iMessage to simply send a picture one would have to select the picture, select the contact and then send it. If the recipient wanted to save the picture they would have to open the picture then click the “save camera roll” button. AirDrop allows you to send the picture and it will import it directly in to the recipients photos. This works likewise with video and document sharing.  

Quick Controls Center: A quick control center that is easily accessible from anywhere on your iPhone is a feature that iOS has been lacking for quite some time. Thanks to iOS 7, this complaint is now history. It may have been somewhat copied feature from the Android OS, but how else would you expect Apple to do this feature? The control center brings instant access to things like your brightness, a flashlight, your camera and calculator as well as toggle switches for WiFi, Bluetooth Do Not Disturb mode and others. I have been using this feature a lot in the past few days and I must say it's wonderful to have, easy to use and more importantly gives FAST access to these controls. This may be my favorite feature of iOS 7 thus far.

Updates to Siri: Apple has had Siri in Beta (development) form since they launched her on the iPhone 4s back in 2010. iOS 7 brings an end to Siri's Beta run and brings about many welcomed changes to the popular mobile assistant. I was a fan of Siri from the time the software was launched. I use her on a daily basis for things such as scheduling calendar appointments, setting alarms, timers and reminders. I'm a huge fan of the "It can wait" campaign, so naturally I use Siri a lot when I'm in my car as well. I use her to send, read and reply to my messages, and control my music. Adding on to these useful features, Siri can now do things like adjust your screens brightness, or turn on/off your Bluetooth or WiFi. She also has a new voice that’s so lifelike, it’s borderline creepy. Some of Siri's improvements may be a bit overdue, but I choose not to focus on that and just appreciate that Siri is now more useful and functional than ever. 

A Redesigned Music App/iTunes Radio: The music app in iOS 7 brings a great new look to the most popular music player in the world, as well as many welcomed new features. To start, the app looks a lot sleeker and more personal. Now as you’re scrolling through your library by way of the "Artists" tab you will notice artist pictures taken from iTunes. If you have one album from that artist, the picture may be of that album artwork, but for artists that you have multiple albums from iTunes uses an image of the artist of band. iOS 7 also brings iTunes Radio into the picture. iTunes Radio is Apple's first attempt to get into the booming industry of streaming music where Apps like Pandora and Spotify have been very successful. Apple mostly gets iTunes radio right. The UI is easy on the eyes and the application functions well and provides a wide library of music. iTunes radio is free with ads and there will also be a paid version that will be ad free and provide the user with unlimited skips. iTunes match subscribes will receive the paid version of iTunes Radio for free.

A Functional Clock App Icon/Hiding the News Stand App: This feature may not sound like a big deal, (and it’s really not) but I never understood why the clock application icon in iOS 1-6 was not a functional clock. The calendar app icon has always changed with the day, so wouldn’t it make sense for the clock to work?  In iOS 7 the clock icon is fully functional right down to a sweeping second hand! Also, you can now hide the News Stand app!! (I’ll pause and let you celebrate...) Okay.

These are just five features I wanted to highlight. I am very impressed with iOS 7 and all of the new features and improvements it brings. Apple has done something very special with iOS 7. They have managed to design a new OS that looks and works different than previous versions on iOS, but you still know how to use it from the second you pick up a device running iOS 7. I’m also very excited to see what the future of application design in iOS 7 holds. A few apps have already been updated for iOS 7 ahead of it’s public release and they look great and function well. On September 18th old iPhone’s will feel new to many owners and Apple will once again give us a great mobile operating system.