Apple iOS 7: Everything You Need to Know

By Jesus Diaz on at

The new iOS 7 is here. Jony Ive's first iOS—minimalist, elegant, devoid of the infantile artifice that infected its latest incarnations. And here's all you need to know about it. Updating live.

Here's a video that summarises it (no audio):

 

Flat-Ish Design, On Layers, On a Grid

The interface has been completely revamped. Everything—from the typefaces to the built-in applications to the colour schemes to the icons.

The result is simple and beautiful. For the first time, iOS looks like part of the devices, rather than an outdated add-on.

But, more importantly, iOS now has focus, with a standard grid that runs across the springboard to the applications.

 

Control Central

If there's just one thing we've been begging Apple to steal from Android, it's been some kind of comprehensive settings page. Enter Control Centre, a suite of settings just a swipe away.

Just swipe up from the bottom of the device, and you can access Settings, Brightness, Music, a flashlight. You know, all those things you never feel like digging all the way into the settings app to mess with. We couldn't be happier.

 

Multitasking

Until now, multitasking in iOS has been fairly limited. Now, it's going to work for all apps—and Apple says it's going to provide background updates to all apps—and Apple says all those background cycles aren't going to hurt your battery life.

Apple's multitasking is smart—it learns from your habits and updates the apps you use frequently, and not so much the ones you don't. The updates also adapt to the network conditions. So it's not going to try to update in the background when you've got crappy connectivity.

 

Safari

Just like its OS X big brother, Safari for iOS just got a major overhaul for its new, flat home.

You now get a "smart" search field that brings up your favourites as soon as you tap it, and just like everything it else, it'll be coming to you with iCloud Keychain integration.

Tabs will be stacked vertically now (like they are in Chrome), and thankfully, you'll finally be able to open more than 8 of them at a time. The far more intuitive Safari UI will let you swipe to move between tabs, and once you're in a specific one, another swipe to and from the left bezel lets you move backwards and forwards.

 

Airdrop

Sharing is getting just a little bit easier in iOS 7 with the addition of AirDrop. Just like in the latest versions of Mac OS X, you'll be able to share photos and the like over a peer-to-peer Wi-Fi network. So any item that pulls up the share sheet, can be sent to others through AirDrop. And, of course, you can share with multiple friends by tapping everyone and anyone from the share sheet.

AirDrop supports the iPhone 5, iPad (4th gen), iPad Mini and iPod touch (5th gen).

 

Camera and Photo Apps

Apple has reworked the look and design of the camera and photos applications to make navigation smoother and simpler. It's a blatant shot at what Apple's competitors—ahem, Instagram—have been doing for sometime.

First up, is the Camera app, which has a brand new swipable interface that lets you go between video, camera, pano camera and an Instagram-ready "square camera".

Speaking of Instagram, let's jump over to the Photos app. There's a whole new UI, which includes some filters. A nice touch—but it's not like we've never seen it before.

Beyond the filters, the new Photos attempts to use your photo metadata to organize your photos by "moments" by location and time—something we've seen with other services in the past.

Overall, though, the features are mostly catch up here. What we're seeing are interface improvements.

 

Siri

Siri got new voices, including a male one, in different languages. They have made it smarter too. You can say "increase the brightness" or "play my last voicemail" and it will now understand.

They have integrated services like Twitter, Wikipedia and even Bing, Microsoft's search service.


 

Car Integration

You shouldn't text and drive, but iOS in the car is aiming to make phone usage on the go a little less deadly.

Powered by Siri—with updates including integration for settings, and (Bing-powered) web searches as well as 3rd party apps like Twitter, and Wikipedia—iOS in the car is about as close to an Apple vehicle as you're going to get.

It seems promising and details are sparse, but the system is probably little more than piping your phone to a custom dashboard display, so all the real heavy lifting will fall on Siri.

You're not going to be able to use it quite yet though; you'll have to wait until 2014 when compatible cars with the right kind of built-in screens start hitting the market, but Apple's already got some heavy hitters on board.

Now if only it'd drive for you too. But no word on that...yet.

iOS 7 will be available in beta form "in the coming weeks," with a final release in Autumn for iPhone 4 and later models; the iPad 2 and later models; the iPad mini, and the 5th-gen iPod Touch.


Catch up on all of Apple's WWDC announcements here