BY LOUIS BALZANI
Apple released iOS 7, the next version of the operating system that powers the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, Wedneday.
The update provides users with the usual minor upgrades and additional features, but it also completely overhauls the user interface and makes the system more visually dynamic.
Having used iOS 7 and its various betas since July, I would like to give readers a tour of what is new and what has changed in this new version.
The first change users will notice is the dramatically different user interface. Everything from the system’s app icons to its fonts and color scheme has been modified, with the gradients and thick fonts of past versions replaced by thin, wispy fonts and solid, bright colors. All of the system’s included applications have been modified to match this flatter, more streamlined user interface.
Additionally, the home screen now has a fun feature where, as users turn the device in their hands, iOS 7 will track the motion and move the background and the app icons accordingly.
On top of that, windows and overlapping panels like Notification Center and the keyboard are now transparent, so users can see a blurry version of whatever they were just doing.
Another major new feature is Control Center. Much like Notification Center, users can now swipe up from the bottom of the screen to get quick access to many of the most commonly used system functions, including airplane mode, WiFi and the screen brightness. Basic music controls can be found here as well.
Additionally, basic system apps like Clock and Calculator are accessible with the press of a button, as is a flashlight.
The inclusion of AirDrop is another major feature built into iOS 7. AirDrop is Apple’s way of performing file exchanges between Macs, and now this functionality has been extended to iOS as well.
Users can now transfer files, links, photos, videos and more from one iOS device to another or from an iOS device to a Mac. The only drawback to this is that the feature will not be available on the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S or the second-generation and third-generation iPad.
The Music app has been updated with a feature called iTunes Radio, which can be thought of as Pandora built into iOS.
Users can search for and stream any song in the iTunes database, but they can also tune into pre-built “stations” centered around a specific artist or genre. Users may create their own stations based on artists or specifics songs as well. The interface also provides a buy button so users can easily buy a song they hear.
iTunes Radio is also available on Windows, Mac and Apple TV, and a subscription to Apple’s iTunes Match service will further customize the service in addition to removing ads.
There have also been many minor tweaks and changes throughout the system. Siri has been improved with a more realistic voice and the option to use a male voice.
Multitasking has received a new interface and actual multitasking has been extended to all applications.
The Camera app is now speedier and can apply filters to photos on the fly. Safari can now have more than eight tabs open at a time. Notification Center, the App Store and Photos have all received minor enhancements as well.
iOS 7 is available now, so users can experience all these features and improvements for themselves.
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