(In the second part of this three-part blog, we reviewed new software features and improvements in Apple’s latest mobile operating system. In this post, we talk about notification sync, Airdrop, camera and other changes brought in by the iOS 7. You can read the second part of this blog here.)
Remember, how annoying it is to the users who own multiple iOS devices and get to see the same notifications on a device that are already read on the other device? Well, in iOS 7, you no longer have to deal with this. A notification once read on a device no longer pops up on your other devices, but can be still accessible from the Notification Center.
iOS 7 introduces Airdrop (for iPhone 5, iPod touch 5th gen. only) where the users can send pictures, contacts, passbook passes over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to other iOS 7 users. The experience is seamless and really, there is no configuration required. Airdrop appears in system wide UIActivity share sheets for convenience.
Airdrop also has a user-level configuration where the sender can filter out receivers from a bunch of other iOS 7 users.
Call / message blocking and Facetime Audio
iOS 7 supports call and message blocking from Phone / Address Book, a much needed feature to keep unwanted people away. You can unblock existing users from Settings > Phone as well.
Instead of the conventional video + audio calling, iOS 7 supports audio only calling over Wifi / cellular networks. The phone app now displays a neat statistic that shows the amount of data used for each Facetime call.
Camera and Photos
Camera app went through a design change and supports 4 modes of shooting: Video, Photo, Square and Panorama (iPhone 4s and above only) and the user can select a mode by swiping to the left or right. The camera app also features live filters (currently iPhone 5 and iPod 5th gen. only). Camera app can be quickly accessible from the lock screen and the Control Center as well.
Photos app underwent a design change and consists of three tabs: Photos, Shared and Albums. Photos tab contains “Moments” of all your photos. You can zoom in to see larger thumbnails for a set of your moments and zoom out of the picture collage to see what all moments happened between specific months and years. This clever categorization of photos happen automatically based on the meta data contains in the photos.
iOS 6 introduced photo streams where you can invite a bunch of users to follow you and your photos. The users are allowed to like and comment for photos there itself. Photo streams was really a nice feature of iOS 6 but it suffered from one drawback where your friends won’t be able to post pictures in the photo stream that you created. Instead, a duplicate photo stream was needed for your friend to share photos.
iOS 7 solves this problem. We can now share photos in the same photo streams.
* Maps received night mode and walking directions (selected countries only).
* You can teach Siri to pronounce your Asian names accurately. Also, the natural language processing for Siri has been significantly improved (So, is it out of beta yet?). Siri can also search Wikipedia, Bing, Google and live tweets.
* Safari supports 3D tab switching, a unified address and search bar, easy left and right swipe gestures for going back and forward respectively.
* You can create folders with unlimited apps with paging and can also create a folder within a folder.
* The music player on the lock screen has a seek bar.
* iTunes Radio (currently US only) allows you to listen, discover, rate and buy songs. It also supports history of your listened songs, so you can always go back to the song you liked earlier. You can also create your own stations based on the artist, genre, similar artists etc. The free version is ad supported and if you are an iTunes Match subscriber you get to listen to it without ads.
* Mail search has been significantly improved.
* iOS in car: where Apple says some of the significant and popular car manufacturers signed in to provide features such as the car drivers making use of the displays for iOS 7’s navigation, music and of course Siri.
* Video recording at 1080p and 60fps is now possible on iPhone 5.
* Xcode 5 and new APIs to developers that include: UI Dynamics, Sprite Kit, M fi game controllers, Maps directions APIs, iBeacons, custom video compositors, smart backgrounding and fetches in push notifications etc.
To sum up, I believe iOS 7 is a welcome change for everyone. The users are going to love the new features it comes with. For the developers and designers, it’s a welcome challenge to come up with interesting design concepts that make use of iOS 7’s reactive physics system to differentiate among themselves from the already existing 900,000 stale apps on the App Store. With iOS 7, Apple has again raised the bar in mobility!