Apple iOS 7’s New Look Not Just Skin Deep

We were expecting a Jonny Ive-led redesign of Apple’s iOS with the announcement of iOS 7 at WWDC today, but what Apple unveiled has a lot more going for it that just a heavy facelift.

It’s true, though, that the whole look has been revamped; the fonts have been tweaked to be cleaner and simpler, there’s a bit of motion to make the interface seem “alive”, a lot of the items are translucent, and the reliance on skeuomorphs has been pulled back quite a bit. However, all that teasing about a black and white iOS 7 seems to have been substantially overblown.

iOS 7

There are hundreds of new features in iOS 7, including Control Center. The idea is that there are a handful of controls that users want to use frequently and instantly, so you can swipe up from the bottom to pull up items such as WiFi controls,. screen brightness, and music controls. Users can see their Notification Center from the lock screen, and it’ll also give you daily info at a glance, such as calendar items, weather, traffic, and so on.

One of the biggest new features is multitasking; now, iOS users will be able to swipe between open apps, and all apps are available for multitasking. A new way to organize and share photos is AirDrop, which lets you share photos with friends (peer to peer) just by tapping the picture, and the Photos app automatically organizes your images into “moments” according to location and time taken.

iOS 7

Safari offers full-screen browsing and sports a smart search field that includes your bookmarks and tabs. The browser gains some strong capabilities with iCloud Keychain, which saves your browsing data, such as passwords and credit info, across your devices.

Siri now comes with your choice of male or female voices and has French and German support; it also includes Twitter, Bing (really?), and Wikipedia integrated, so you can voice-search those sites more easily.

iOS 7

Other features include automatic App Store updates; Phone, FaceTime, and Message blocking; FaceTime audio for making voice calls; and a more secure Find My iPhone feature that prevents a thief from wiping the device or turning off the finding feature without the phone’s original Apple ID and password.

Apple also teased some future car integration with iOS, which would ostensibly allow users ti make calls, play music, and so on hands-free with Siri. Sixteen automobile manufacturers are on board with the project.

iOS 7 is available now for developers, and it will come as an update to end users this fall on iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, and iPad mini and iPod touch (5th gen) devices.