iOS 7 is the most radical change to iOS since the first iPhone back in 2007. Visually it’s very different than all previous versions of iOS and with most things visual, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. People will either love the look of iOS 7 or hate it. I guess I’m somewhere in between. When I first installed it on my iPhone 5, I didn’t like it at first glance. It’s seemed crowded and bland. However, when I installed it on my iPad I actually liked it quite a bit. I think it’s because the iPad has more screen real estate and things seemed less crowded to me. Once I got past the visual difference it was time to dig into the features. Things like Control Center, Air Drop and Siri were getting all the buzz and I welcome any new capabilities. However, at the end the day when I’m asked “what are my favorite features of iOS 7”, I usually respond with the ones that affect/improve my daily use of my devices even if those features aren’t at the top of Apple’s advertising or spec sheet. So here goes in no particular order my 7 favorite iOS 7 features (yes I have more than 7, but limiting it to 7 makes for a better title):
Hands down Control Center is the feature that I’ll use every single day. Now I can just swipe up from the bottom of the screen and access common tasks that used to be accessible only from the Settings app. I can enable Airplane mode quickly when I’m on a flight. I can get to the built-in Flashlight (dozens of flashlight apps just cried out and were silenced by iOS 7). I can also turn on/off the Do Not Disturb feature. Yep Control Center is probably my most used iOS 7 feature.
Prior to iOS 7 I was a Pandora user with a paid account to avoid ads. I use Pandora all the time when I want to listen to new music that I may not have in my own collection. Now with iTunes Radio I can have the same basic functionality and since I’m also an iTunes Match customer I don’t have to hear ads. This means that iOS 7 is going to actually save me $3.99/month that I no longer have to pay Pandora. I call that a win!
Folders can have an unlimited number of apps
I’m an App junky. I have over 400 Apps on my iPhone (yes over 400 and most of which I use!). Folders were a blessing, but they were always limited to 9 or 12 items. So I’d have to make multiple folders just to hold one category. I had Photography, Photography 2, Photography 3, Games 1, Games 2, etc. Now I can just have a Photography folder and put all my Photography apps in it. You can swipe between pages of apps in a folder. My only gripe is that the display is now limited to 9 items at a time even though there’s more room on iPhone 5 and iPad. Apple please bring back 12 at a time. It would mean less swiping.
Do Not Disturb – PERIOD
Do Not Disturb was one of my favorite features in iOS 6. I travel internationally for a living and therefore I’m always on a different time zone than my family/friends. A call for them at 2 pm could easily mean a ring in the middle of the night at 2 am for me. Do Not Disturb allowed me to only receive calls from those that I put into a “Can Disturb” group. However, Do Not Disturb had one major flaw. It only worked if your display was off/locked. This is probably fine for most, but I also use my iOS devices for demonstrations on stage. During those demos since the display was on I’d get text messages and other alerts. Now there’s a setting in the Do Not Disturb settings that lets you Silence “ALWAYS.” This will be great for my future demos and recordings.
New Ring Tones and Text Tones
Apple usually does a great job when it comes to design and providing good user content such as templates on their Mac apps. However, when it came to iPhone ring tones they left little to be desired. Most were simply unusable in my opinion. Now they’ve added several new ones and many of them are quite nice. While I’ll still prefer having my own ringtones that I assign to various friends, I love having a better set of “Alert” text tones that I can use as well.
Redeem iTunes Gift Cards with the Camera App
This one was a long time coming. There are several Apps on iOS that let you scan a barcode. However, when it comes to redeeming an iTunes gift card, for some reason Apple insisted that we key in the long complicated codes. Well now we can finally just redeem them by scanning the barcode with the camera. When you go to redeem a code you’ll now have an option to do with your camera.
A better Camera App
The iPhone is the most popular camera in the world! Yes, more photos are taken with iPhone then any other camera period. So it’s actually a good thing that Apple enhanced both the Camera App and Photos App in iOS 7. The Camera App offers more options for capturing photos with filters as well as a new square aspect ratio (great for Instagram). The filters in most apps are applied after the photo is captured, but in the Camera App you can see their affect as you’re taking the photo. You can also use the burst mode to capture up to 100 shots by simply holding down the shutter button. If you have an iPhone 5s it gets even better with a slow motion video capture feature. I’m a photographer and I love my Nikon DSLRs when I have them, however I have my iPhone with me 100% of the time and therefore I’m using the camera on it quite often. A better Camera App means that I’ll be able to do more without having to always go to a 3rd party app.