iOS 7 features an all-new look, with flat icons, and simpler textures. It’s very… different, and will probably take some getting used to. On the plus side, the design overhaul finally updates a visual style that hasn’t changed much since its 2007 introduction to a cleaner, fresher, more modern look. On the down side, it looks as if it’s a mashup of Android and webOS design elements, and at first glance you get the feeling that you’ve seen many of the designs and interface elements somewhere before. It’s hard to describe every single design change, so you can take a look at the gallery of screenshots and video animations that Apple has put up.
The changes, obviously, aren’t confined to the looks. There’s a lot of new stuff as well, and here’s a rundown of the major new features that caught our eye:
A “new” Multi-tasking mode, using webOS-style cards that you can flick through. It’s also “smart,” learning when you use your apps, so that it can update their contents automatically before you open them. Neat trick — no more waiting for RSS feeds or news apps to refresh when they’re opened.
There’s a new feature called Control Center: a slide-up tab that offers playback controls; toggles for Airplane mode, Bluetooth, WiFi, orientation lock; brightness control, and access to four apps (Flashlight, Timer, Calculator, Camera). Goodbye NCSettings, I guess.
Notification Center now offers more information, is better organized, and can be accessed even from the lock screen (finally!).
AirDrop allows you to share photos, documents, videos, contacts, to nearby iOS devices via WiFi or Bluetooth, with encryption. The catch is that it will work only on iPhone 5 (and, presumably, the 5S that we guess will be launched this fall).
The Camera app adds filters and an Instagram-like square format, and the Photos app can now organize your photos according to “moments,” much like iPhoto on the desktop. If anything, this means being able to navigate through and share photos much more easily even on a small screen.
A new anti-theft feature in Find My iPhone prevents the device from being activated once it’s wiped and powered off by the thief.
Safari now has a unified url/search bar, and allows more than eight tabs. The new tab view, ironically, reminds me of Vista’s Aero effects for viewing multiple windows.
You can read the detailed explanation of the new features on Apple’s iOS 7 page. iOS 7 will be compatible with the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5; 5th gen iPod touch; and the iPad 2, iPad with Retina display, and iPad mini. It should be available in about three months.
There’s a lot to like, and a few things to not like (I don’t dig the new icons too much), and a lot more that will generate heated discussions. Let the griping and defending begin.
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