Tim Cook kicked things off by singing the praises of WWDCs gone by, not to mention leading with a special video all about what it means to design something at Apple, but of course we wanted to get to the meat of the mobile story and that came with the unveiling of iOS 7.
As always there’s a huge array of new features, some big, some small, but all work towards bringing what some considered a tiring user experience, up to date. Before we were introduced to all these new goodies however, Jony Ive’s long-rumoured work on re-engineering the look and feel of iOS came to light.
Cleaner icons, new ways to interact and even a parallax 3D interface caught our attention and you can read more about the look of iOS 7 here.
Following Apple’s Craig Federighi, having taken us through the new OS X Mavericks update, he reappeared on stage to showcase all the new features iOS 7 brings to the table and explain why this is “the biggest change to iOS since the iPhone”.
Starting with Weather, the app now features animated context sensitive wallpapers that take up the entire display. We were shown rain, lightning and snow, all behind a wealth of clean, clear information. You can view multiple locales and pinch together with a card-style overview that makes it easy to view different forecasts simultaneously. There’s also room to expanded information accessible with a single tap.
Like so many newly reworked apps, Safari is now full screen practically all of the time. Controls for key functions like accessing the new 3D-style tabs, bookmarking pages and the URL/Universal Search bar hide almost immediately when scrolling, but are just as easily brought back. Swiping from the left or right of the screen will also navigate forwards and backwards between web pages and the Bookmarking menu features two additional tabs which now home Shared Links and the Reading List.
Photos and Camera:
The imaging experience from aspects of both capture and review has been tweaked. The photo taking experience now boils down to four swippable modes; normal camera, video, square and panorama.
Meanwhile the Photos app automatically defines shots by moments, collections and years, with inbuilt editing tools, thumbnail scrubbing and sharing options to social networks, iCloud and the new AirDrop service. Find out more about both sides of iOS 7’s imaging story here.
Music and iTunes Radio:
Whilst the iTunes app still serves as a one-stop shop for buying music, movies and TV shows from your iOS device, the music experience has been bolstered by a newly redesigned Music application and the addition of iTunes Radio. A fleshed out look at this new service can be found here, but in a nutshell users can now listen to both predefined and custom-made radio stations for the iTunes library with the option to uprate or down vote songs you like or dislike whilst also having the option to buy any track that are of particular favour.
The Music app also features a new control layout that’s cleaner and easier to use as well as showing a mix of both locally stored tunes and purchased items on iCloud side-by-side.
The resident voice assistant on iOS has become prettier and smarter. If you’re new to Siri or at least tired of the old once, you can now choose whether you speak to a more natural sounding male or female assistant, with current languages including US English, French and German. The service also has more control over hardware such as brightness and Bluetooth, along with Bing, Twitter, Wikipedia and voicemail integration. A comprehensive explanation of new features is here.
Other key features:
- Homescreen folders now support multiple pages.
- An enhanced Notifications Center features multiple screens and lockscreen access.
- App Store apps can now be categorised by age or even current location, whilst updates take place automatically.
- A popular feature from OS X – AirDrop now finds itself on iOS 7 too, primarily as an alternative to NFC, which is popular on many rival operating systems. Users can share content on a peer-to-peer basis directly over WiFi.
- Multitasking across multiple apps has been visually reworked for a full screen experience, accessed by double-tapping the home button. Apple also detailed some smart power and processing features of multitasking in the process.
- FaceTime calls can now be audio-only too, which serves as a useful alternative to Skype.
- Push Notifications sync across OS X and iOS so that there’s no risk of repeat notifications, whilst also having the ability to receive any push notifications from your iOS device on your Mac should you so wish.
- Quick access to features like brightness control, music playback and a flashlight now reside in a Control Center panel that is accessible device-wide.
iOS 7 is on track to arrive ‘this fall’, that’s autumn to you and me, with support devices stated to be the iPhone 4 (and later), iPad 2 (and later), iPad Mini and 5th generation iPod Touch.