Emerging Technology

GADGET WATCH: iOS 7

Patrick Stafford /

Today the newest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS, hits and users won’t just be greeted with a few new features – this latest update gives the user interface its biggest coat of paint since the original release in 2007.

While developers have been working on beta versions of the software for months, reviewers have finally written their thoughts on the public release – and

Hardware and features

iOS 7 features a significant number of upgrades. The entire user interface has been designed with a new, minimalist look and a different, thinner font. App icons have also been changed to remove the “skeuomorphic look”, in favour of a realistic feel.

A new colour pallet has been used as well, featuring brighter shades. A new “frosted glass” look has also been used in several features, such as the lock screen and the new “Control Centre”.

Notification Centre has been divided into three separate screens, while the Control Centre allows users easy access to controls such as music controls, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and shortcuts to popular apps such as the camera or calculator.

iOS 7 also brings some updates to Siri and the introduction of the new iTunes Radio feature.

What’s the consensus?

Over at TechCrunch, the publication noted that while the visual changes are confronting, they’re an improvement overall, and “grow on a user with time”.

Specifically, the publication said the Control Centre simplifies and “makes much more useful” what used to be a confusingly arranged group of apps.

“Separating it from that function and making it accessible throughout the iOS user interface via a simple swipe up from bottom is a really big improvement.”

At All Things Digital, the publication praised the “sharper, finer and more delicate” fonts, along with the tinner and lighter buttons. It also praised an update to have apps upgrade in the background without a manual trigger.

However, the publication did note the biggest disappointment is the lack of improvements to the keyboard.

“Unlike in Android, Apple still bars you from substituting third-party keyboards with better auto-correction. The company says this is due to security worries,” it noted.

At the New York Times, the publication admitted that while the “look of iOS 7 may grab you or not”, the improvements beyond the surface are what’s worth praising.

“The longer you spend with the new OS, the more you’re grateful for the fixing and de-annoyifying on display,” it said.

For example, it pointed out, several features such as using Siri to open specific apps like Settings or “brightness settings”, or just using the Control Panel to access specific programs.

“This idea — swiping in from the margins of the phone — also plays out in the new Back gesture. The iPhone doesn’t have a Back button, as Android phones do,” it said.

“But now you can swipe in from the left margin of the phone to go back one screen. It works in Mail, Settings, Notes, Messages, Safari, Facebook and some other apps. It’d be great if worked in every app.”

There are too many updates to list by name and detail, but some include smarter Wi-Fi networks, updates to photos, Maps and a setting that even controls the font size in all apps.

However, the biggest update, the publication said, was the new activation lock.

“If some thug steals your phone, it’s worthless to him unless he enters your Apple password. Even if he tries to erase it, even if he jailbreaks it, even if he force-reinstalls the operating system.”

Who’s it for?

Everyone. If you own an iOS 7 device, then the next Apple update might be a little polarising based on the visual updates, but the under-the-surface updates make this one software upgrade you shouldn’t ignore.

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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