Everything You Need To Know About iOS 7- The 10 Biggest Changes

By: Marawan Alwaraki, June 11, 2013
After testing iOS 7 for a few hours and watching the keynote I'm now ready to share with you my experience with iOS 7 beta. The new iOS brought massive design features to iOS users making the UI look a lot more modern. Yet the upgrade wasn't limited to introduce only design changes but new features too. This article covers the new features in iOS 7 as well as any app with a massive design change.

iOS 7: The biggest and best change to iOS, ever

For each big app or feature of iOS 7 I will include a screenshot, because the easiest way to visualize something is to see it for yourself!


1- Lock Screen

The lock screen was almost completely redesigned. Although we kind of have the same basic layout, each aspect of the lock screen has changed, some more dramatically than others.

Translucent lock screen in iOS 7

Notice how the lock screen is a lot more translucent. Also, many elements of the lock screen such as a the slide to unlock bar have now gone. In face you can slide anywhere on the screen from left to right to unlock your iPhone making it a lot easier to unlock intentionally .. and unintentionally (i.e. in your pocket).

Other than the design changes, users can swipe down from the status bar to bring down the Notification Center in the lock screen. And also, a Control Center (read about it Control Center subheading) if you swipe upwards which is really handy.

2- Control Center

iOS 7 introduced a new feature called Control Center. By swiping upwards from any app on your iPhone a menu of toggles, music player, and some handy tools will be revealed.

Your toggles are only a swipe away

Toggles have been easily accessible on almost every other mobile OS except the one on iPhone. Thankfully we get it in a much sleeker design. Having said that, the Control Center does unintentionally appear on my screen when I'm swiping upwards in other apps. Additionally, the toggles in the Control Center are limited and there's currently no way to customize which toggles to show in the Control Center.

3- Notification Center

The Notification Center on iPhone has now been upgraded with a new design and some new features. It can be pulled down from anywhere on your iPhone, even your lock screen (as said earlier in this article).

No more heavy texturing

There are now 3 tabs in the Notification Center. The first one on the left shows you things for today including weather, calendar, stocks and a few more widgets from Apple. This is Apple's respond to Google Now which has proven to be one of the most popular features currently available on smart phones. It's not yet clear whether or not Apple will allows third party developers to develop widgets for the 'today' tab. The middle tab shows all your notifications, and the tab on the right shows notifications that you missed.

The Facebook and Twitter quick post widgets seem to have disappeared.

4- Photos

The photos app received a pretty big design update as well as a new feature known as Moments. Moments is for people who have a messy Camera Roll. It shows you pictures based on events. The events are made using data from your location as well as the date the pictures were taken.

Find the right photo, at the right time

You start with a year view and you can quickly find certain pictures by searching moments for each year. The photos app has this white theme in it, just like most other apps on iOS 7. You can also add and remove filters inside the photos app now. Airdrop was also integrated, this is a feature that allows you to send and receive pictures over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

5- Camera

The camera app looks different now. You can swipe between 4 camera modes now; Video, Photo, Square and Panorama. More importantly though, you can now view your pictures with a live filter using the built-in camera app.

See 8 filters live while taking your picture

As well as the live filters, users can add filters to their photos after they've captured them. More importantly though, the filters applied can be removed or changed. So if you capture a picture using the Process filter, you can change back to the normal picture with no filter after you've taken the picture.

6- Weather

The weather app received more design than features, but the new look is certainly worth including in this article.

Now you can see and feel the weather

If the weather is windy, you'll see wind blowing across your screen. If it's raining, water will drop down your screen. And in my case, when it's dusty I'll see dust on my screen.

Users can swipe left and right between different cities similarly to how they swipe between pages on the home screen.

7- Game Center

Good bye to the skeuomorphic design that was most present in Game Center. The app that used to have   the heaviest texture ever probably has the flattest design on iOS 7 today.

Simply beautiful

Game Center now looks truly amazing on iPhone, for a change. Although there isn't any new noticeable feature in the app yet, the design is completely new and truly stunning.

8- Safari

Safari has completely changed. The web browser is now just white with text on it. All the bars are pure white. In my opinion though the app is so white that it's inconvenient to use, and I hope Apple fix that.

Articles, articles everywhere!

There's a new feature called Shared Links. This collects links shared on Twitter and LinkedIn and puts them in one stream in Safari. So if you've just wasted a lot of time getting your Reading List to 0 you'll have more links to read now.

Update: After using Safari a lot more I'm getting used to the new design. It looks different and it could be quite difficult to understand the new design, however once you get used to it you'll enjoy using it.

9- iTunes Radio

Apple also announced iTunes Radio. This allows you to stream Music to your iOS devices, Mac and even PC. The feature is ad-supported unless you're an iTunes Match subscriber. If you're surprised that iTunes Radio is ad-supported then read why an ad-supported iRadio makes perfect sense, an article I published before WWDC.

Discover and enjoy music for free

I'm still getting used to iTunes Radio, but as far as I'm aware you can't just pick a song and listen to it. Instead you create stations, and for each station you can pick which artists (or similar artists), or genres you want to listen to from this station.

No ads have appeared for me yet, maybe because I'm on the beta version. The type of ads that will be offered is not yet clear. Hopefully it'll be a banner ad and not an audio ad.

Update: A short 5-10 second audio ad was played when my songs were shuffling in iTunes Radio. It wasn't inconvenient and annoying though as the ad has a cover art and is really short. The ad didn't sound spammy either.

10- Folders

Folders on iOS are amazingly different. The folder opens with a rather playful animation, the folder is simple, and you can put much much much more apps in each folder. How? Horizontally scrolling folders. Like pages on your home screen.

More icons in the same folder

It's really beautiful! And it adds to the great new user experience of iOS 7. I'm sure you'll love using these folders.

Bonus: Spotlight Search and new icons

The spotlight search on iOS is not accessible on a page on its own. At first I worried that Apple have removed the spotlight search, until I scrolled downwards on my home screen, and my hero search bar was there waiting for me.

Spotlight is still here

More simple and more elegant. The new icons are great and flat. I talked more about icons in the paragraphs below.

A few more words

iOS 7 has brought forward a great new design to iOS. It looks a lot more modern and delightful now. You have to try it to believe it, but iOS 7 is really fun to use. Scrolling between pages, unlocking your iPhone and opening up folders feels a lot different. The whole iOS has changed a lot. iOS 7 is certainly a big move forward.

I have heard people complain that the new icons look cartoonish based on the screen shots they've seen on the internet. While the icons can and will be improved by the time iOS 7 goes public, the current icons are not as bad as you might think. They're actually quite great. You see them bad because you're used to the traditional iOS icons, but once you have the new icons for just one day you'll understand why Apple chose these icons. They suit the user experience of iOS 7 as a whole.

A big thank you from me to Tim Cooks, Jony Ive and the rest of the team for making such a great iOS. Are you happy with the way Apple are taking iOS with iOS 7?

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