The much-anticipated update to the Apple operating system was made available for download on Wednesday. Given that I have an iPhone 4 that hasn't even been updated to OS 6 yet, I declined to bother with OS 7 for it, but my iPad is relatively new and seemed like the best way to give this new, streamlined system a test drive.
Before even getting into the feature changes, which are numerous, it should be noted that the most jarring and interesting change is the look. Gone are black buttons in favor of white -- most likely because the average person has a dark background screen and those are easier to see -- and the look of virtually every native app has been updated dramatically. From Mail to Calendar to Photo, it's all very modern.
Additionally, the feel is smoother. Transitions have a clean glide to them and the overall interface feels more natural.
Since I've only been playing the iOS 7 for a few hours, I'll stick with the big stuff. There are undoubtedly small details I may never even find, but the big changes are enough to make the upgrade worth it.
First up is the brand new control panel. If you never double-clicked the main button, you never knew about the original feature that allowed for screen orientation lock, control of iTunes and volume. It also allowed users to turn apps off. Did you not know that apps once enabled are running in the background until you turn them off? But, more on that in a moment. The new control panel -- accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the iPad (in the black strip, not on the main sreen -- that confused the hell out of me for a few minutes) -- provides quick access to some of the most used iPad features: volume, wi-fi, Bluetooth, camera, timer, volume, etc. Much easier than before and much more comprehensive.
iPads have never had easy, simple security, but iOS 7 solves that with a four-digit passcode to login to your tablet just like the iPhone has had for years. It makes it very easy to lock your iPad down and combined with the Find My iPad feature (now enabled for tablets too) that can erase your device from a distance, security is significantly more stout with this upgrade.
Apple has clearly been paying attention to Instagram and other photo sharing services. iOS 7 gives users the option to filter images and do a variety of edits to them right within the native software. Users can even set the camera to shoot in a square right from the get go to make sharing with Instagram easier. Best of all, the organization of photos on the iPad is dramatically improved broken down by date, location and photo album. Sharing is easier as well, which brings me too...
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Cloud services have rapidly increased over the last five years, but what if you just want to share a single item without having to use e-mail or a cloud app? iDrop handles that for you with ease. Choose what you want to share, select the person you want to share it with and it's done. Very slick and simple interface that should be very handy when trying to share photos, in particular.
Perhaps my favorite new feature thus far is the way the new OS handles multi-tasking. For some time now, Apple has kept apps open in the background sucking battery life, but making them quicker to open when you needed them. They could be accessed through the app icon or through double-tapping the main button. Still, it was clunky and it didn't provide much information on what the app was doing. Now, Apple has created something similar to the Spaces desktop application that gives users the ability to swipe through every app in full-screen size much the way looking through songs is done in iTunes or tabs in Safari. Getting from one app to another is now fast and easy.