Monday, June 10, 2013

Updated: iOS 7 release date, news and features

Updated: iOS 7 release date, news and features

Updated: iOS 7 release date, news and features

iOS 7 - all the latest news

Apple has launched the all-new iOS 7, featuring a radically overhauled interface, new Control Center, transparent animations and more.

The new system will be available for the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, the iPad 2, iPad third and fourth generation, the iPad mini and the iPod touch fifth generation, likely due to some of the more powerful needs of the new OS.

The last major iOS 6 update for Apple's mobile devices was mostly hit, but there was a big Maps-shaped miss.

Lots of people were rightly angry about Apple ditching Google data, but beyond that mis-step there were things to like: a more useful Siri (App launching plus the recognition that a world exists outside of the USA), shared Photo Streams, handy Phone app controls such as 'send to voicemail', and major improvements to Mail, Safari, accessibility and the Camera app.

However, with the new iOS 7 update we've been given the all-new interface, as well as new ways to control the phone and make sure that you don't have to worry about fumbling around in the dark for the torch.

It's interesting to note there was nothing about Apple Maps on the iOS being improved, although it did state that its 'developers have been making great improvements to Maps' as well as bringing new features - as well as mapping information bein g pushed directly to iDevices from a larger Mac or MacBook.

iOS 7 release date

If you're waiting to get your hands on the new iOS 7, it's not good news if you're not a developer: the final release will be available 'in the Fall'.

It's now available in beta for iPhone developers as of today, and will be coming to the iPad in the 'coming weeks'.

We had heard earlier in the year that the new iOS would turn up on our iPad and iPhone devices a little later than usual: John Gruber claiming that iOS 7 is "running behind", with engineers being pulled from OS X 10.9 to work on it.

But the good news is that was cleared up an d we're now getting a release that puts the new iPhone 6 / iPhone 5S release date around the same time as before, with September the likely time for the reveal.

Apple had promised to give devs "an in-depth look at what's next in iOS and OS X", and it certainly did that with a comprehensive look at the new iOS, detailing some of the 1500 new APIs that will be available for the developers to trawl through.


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iOS 7 design

A greater synergy between hardware and software design is something Apple is looking to achieve as it moves towards iOS 7.

We saw the most overt 'leak' of iOS 7 from Apple-loving site 9to5 Mac, before the launch, and it looks like it was bang on the money with the render it created from the preview it was shown.

iOS 7

In reality, we saw a heavily-overhauled new operating system, one that bore more than a few similarities to Nokia's MeeGo in colour and layout. For instance, the icons have been given a more 'rounded' feel, as well as being given a colour overhaul.

The font has also been tweaked as well, with some fancy-looking schematics showing how some things have been changed height wise... although it does look pretty similar though.

Control Center is now a pervasive part of the whole ecosystem, allowing users to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to control everything from the Airplane Mode to the integrated Flashlight. Music is still available in this screen, while you can also control the brightness on screen without having to exit the app.


This isn't the most novel of systems, and was already in place when it comes to music and brightness control; but at least now it looks much nicer and there's a torch/flashlight to play with as well.

The notifications bar is now a full-screen affair, and will also be available on the lock screen, meaning you won't need to wander around through the redesigned number pad any more to see who wants to play some boring game with you.

iOS 7 features

Apple decided that while there were a large number of enhancements to get excited by in the new release of the software, there were ten that it wanted to get properly excited over and tell the world about.

While the design was overhauled, the internal bits and pieces were someth ing of a more incremental upgrade, but one that showed Apple was looking to the future in its battle against Android.

Control Center

Control Center is one of the big ones, as it now allows you to control the main guts of the phone; swiping up from anywhere on your iPhone or iPad will bring up the new hub for loads of options no matter where you are.

Control Center

It's been given the same translucent sheen as with most of the iOS 7 updates, but gives a lot of space up to the music player and brightness controls, as well as making AirDrop and AirPlay the stars of the show at the bottom.


You're probably impressed with our segue there: Airdrop is now finally available on iDevices, allowing you to share anything from an app that supports Share Sheet.

A quick tap on the screen will giv e you access to the functionality - Apple didn't miss the chance to mock the need to tap the phones together on Android here - and you can share multiple items at once by adding in more caresses of the screen.

iTunes Radio and Music

Music is obviously a big thing over at Apple and the Cupertino-based firm reckons the player it's chucked into in iOS 7 is "the best music player we have ever done".

Instead of showing just the music stored on your iDevice, the Music app on iOS 7 also adds in your library stored on iCloud, allowing you to view all your tracks in one place.

iTunes Music

Turn your iPhone to landscape mode and a wall of album art tiles appear which you can slide sideways through, and tapping on one will zoom you into that album.

But wait, what's that coming over the hill? Is it an integrated music service with access to millions of tracks streamed to your device, is it an integrated music service with access to millions of tracks streamed to your device? (Please note: this is not repetition. It's a very boring joke, that you can understand here.)


Safari has gained something of an update, with the same visual overhaul coming to the browser to allow dynamic resizing of the URL bar, giving you more space to see what's on the screen, as well as allowing you to slide back and forth through your browser history.

One cool feature is the updated bookmarks element, which sits on the start screen of the iDevice, and collates links posted through your Twitter friends in one place for easier information discovery - meaning y ou don't have to worry about that pesky Twitter app if all you like doing is passively watching your stream.


The Tab system has been updated visually too - you're no longer are limited to eight tabs open, as the new 3D rendering will allow you practically limitless tabs open at once, which can also be synchronised across multiple accounts and machines thanks to iCloud Tabs.


The camera app has been given something of an overhaul - there's not a lot of extra functionality added in, more a change on the layout taking things to a simplier, swipe-friendly interface which has a few more options than on iOS 6.

You do get some extra features in the shape of various lens shapes including square, circle and panorama elements to lay over the top of your snaps in iOS 7, while live photo filters let yo u see what your subject will look like in a multitude of effects before you even hit the shutter key.

Photo gallery

Viewing your photos has also been given a Jony Ive finish, with iOS 7 automatically arranging pictures by location into groups, which Apple is calling "moments".

Pinch to zoom out and the Photo app will re-draw your photo library into collections, recognising a day trip or recent holiday and then slinging them all into one group automatically.

Photo gallery

There's no extra functionality like the Zoes found on the HTC One, or burst mode found on the Samsung Galaxy S3 or S4 - but then again, Apple didn't show the camera in that much detail.

Zoom out once more and you get a year overview of all the images in your album, with locations tags to remind you where you were each year. If you want more fun-time functionality, then just hold your finger over the thumbnails to see an exploded view of each individual image, and release your digit on the one you wish to view full screen.


Fan-boy favourite Siri hasn't been left out with a fancy new interface and, wait for it: new voices! Huzzah!

You can now choose from male or female intonation of being told 'no internet connection present' while cultured French and German languages have also been added, with more promised "over time".

There are a range of new commands for Siri in iOS 7 too, such as "play my last voicemail", "turn on Bluetooth" and "increase my brightness".

The likes of Twitter, Wikipedia and Bing search results have all been integrat ed into Siri, and Apple promises there's even more to come from its personal assistant in iOS 7 - stay tuned for more information as it drops.

iOS in the Car

iOS 7 allows car manufacturers to integrate the operating system with built-in screens in vehicles, as well as full Siri support for eyes-free usage. This means you can finally live the dream of owning a Ferrari, using Siri but not owning a single Apple device. Truly, the future.

Cars will be able to read your iMessages to you and allow you to dictate a response, as well as use other features such as accessing Maps for directions and controlling the music player.

iOS in the car

If you have a hankering to get hold of one of these iOS 7 enabled cars then you'll have to wait until next year when 12 manufacturers will produce compatible vehicles - but Nissan, Honda and Volvo are all there. Score.

App Store overhaul

There's an all new look for the famous App Store, which we found out earlier now has over 900,000 apps, making it easier to find those tiny programs to fritter away precious moments before death.

You can search for apps based on age range in iOS 7, which Apple is pushing as a great feature for parents, while the 'Apps near me' feature will show you the most popular apps based on your current location. We assume it's a good idea to drive swiftly away if you suddenly near a car park and apps to 'make friends easily' come up on your iPhone.

And something which will probably please a huge amount of the Apple fan-base: apps will now update automatically in the background. Presumably this can be turned off, or simple changes that wreck an app wi ll leave users helpless to do anything about it.

Multi tasking

And let's get to the end of this interminably long list: Multi-tasking has been changed somewhat to allow you to see what you're jumping to in a lovely visual manner, replacing the little bar that comes up at the bottom of the screen.

We're going to miss that little user interface that flipped up and allowed us to see what was going on in the app above at the same time, but the new version is pretty neat to look at, with the app icon flipping along below the pane.


There's plenty more to come from iOS 7 in the near future, so keep having the odd look back if you want to know more about the future of Apple's mobile platform.

  • Take a look on the next page to see what we wanted in iOS 7 - and how many of our wishes came true.
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    What else do we want to see in iOS 7?

    The rest of this article explores a dozen of the features we're clamouring to see in iOS 7. (And by 'clamouring', we of course mean 'asking really nicely'. C'mon, Mr Cook - pretty please?)

    1. Hide Apple apps

    Pretty much everyone we know with an Apple device has a folder entitled 'Apple'. This isn't filled with must-have apps from the geniuses at Cupertino, but all the junk Apple installs that you can't get rid off. To be fair, what each individual considers junk is different, and these appsâ€"Compass, Stocks, Voice Memos, Passbook, and so onâ€"have their fans; but is it too much to ask for a switch in Settings that will hide those we don't use?

    Hide Apple apps

    2. Better app management

    < p>Change for change's sake is rarely a good thing. Recognition is key to satisfying experiences with technology. That's why we're not yelling at Apple to change how iOS home screens work. What we would like to see is improvements to app management: more screens; by default saving app data on delete; and an alphabetical list of installed apps, perhaps accessible from Spotlight.

    3. Change app defaults

    We're pretty certain this request would be met with wide-eyes from Apple CEO Tim Cook, swiftly followed by a full twenty minutes of belly laughing, but we want the ability to use non-default apps for important things like email and calendaring. Apple's own apps would remain the defaults, but you should also be able to pick your own in Settings.

    4. Provide a guest account

    It's extremely unlikely that Apple's ever going to enable multiple user accounts on iOS devicesâ€"they are, after all, designed as extremely personal computers. What is perhaps more re alistic is some kind of guest account you could switch to when handing your device over to someone for a short while; something similar already exists on the Mac in OS X.

    5. Change Siri's voice

    OS X is blessed with dozens of high-quality voices that witter away to you in various dulcet tones. By contrast, Siri is Siri. In the US, you get a slightly robotic woman; in the UK, Siri's that bloke who did The Weakest Link for a decade. It'd be great if you could choose the voice your device uses to speak. (Possible exception: Yoda voice.)

    6. Provide App Store demos

    Apps and games might be cheap, but that doesn't figure cheapskates into the equation. Too often, people are unwilling to risk 69p on the latest release, forcing devs into irritating freemium models or making them clutter up the App Store with 'lite' versions of their output. Apple should just allow demos: 24 hours from first launch and then you buy or the app won't run. Boom.

    7. Power up 'Do Not Disturb'

    Fed up of getting woken up in the middle of the night by the marketing efforts of [redacted, but quite possibly a well-known mobile network] or Game Center fanfares? Do Not Disturb is a great feature that enables you to time when your phone will quit bugging you. But you can define only a single schedule, and we want to see alternative options for weekends.

    Do Not Disturb: a great start, but it needs separate settings for weekends

    8. Make locking location-aware

    Locking is a great thing on iOS devices, making it at least a little harder for some scallywag to get at your data if they pinch your shiny Apple joy. But it could be more intelligent, locking on a location-aware basis, and not when y ou're, say, happily sitting at home on the sofa.

    9. Improve the lock screen

    There's something to be said for Apple's minimalism regarding the iOS lock screen, and it's mostly that it's too minimal. We're not sure we want to see Android-style widgets sprayed everywhere, but a little more functionality wouldn't go amiss. For example, artwork from a currently playing song is displayed on the lock screen, but there are no controls for pausing or skipping to the next track, until you double-press Home, which isn't hugely discoverable. And beyond notifications, nothing else shows up there at all.

    10 Cut all iTunes ties

    In recent years, Apple's made great leaps away from iTunes, and you can technically get away with never using the monstrous jukebox. However, there's still no way to easily get your existing music collection nor your photographs on to your device, and there should be. (Alas, with Apple wanting to push iTunes Match and the iTunes Store, th ere almost certainly never will be for the first of those.)

    11. Make more icons dynamic

    We're hesitant at arguing Apple's home screen icons should be more like Windows 8 tiles, but there's something to be said for dynamic updates when such things work well. With iOS, you get update badges and a live calendar. It'd be nice at the least if Apple made its own Clock and Weather icons dynamic.

    The calendar shows the date, but why can't other icons be this useful?

    12. Enable cross-platform installs

    On a device, you now often see iOS-style banners on websites that when tapped take you right to the equivalent App Store app. But if you're browsing elsewhere, you have to email yourself a reminder and then install later. How goo d would it be if you were surfing on your PC, saw a great app and could install it across your devices without going near them, nor even to iTunes?

     &nbs p;  

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