As iPhone developers, we are allowed early access to Apple’s new operating system for the iPhone.
So let’s have a look at the iPhone’s new iOS 7, due to reach consumers sometime this fall.
It’s undoubtedly a bit of a gamble. Apple’s latest iPhone interface and graphics are eliciting polarized reactions. On one hand we’re hearing “Fun, bubbly and slick” while on the other “too cartoony and childish”. But at least everyone seems to like the new streamlined font, a slimline Helvetica – although it is fattening up between Betas. First it was Helvetica Neue Ultra Light and then, after some light nibbles – not a whole meal mind you - it slightly bulged out to Helvetica Neue Regular.
In a promotional video shown during Apple’s keynote presentation, Head of Industrial Design Jonathan Ive described the update as "bringing order to complexity". We agree it’s moving in that direction – however it’s clearly still a work in progress.
From these screenshots, you can see iOS 7‘s new-look icons (more playful and 2D) and the new thinner font. Note the pared back look in the messages. Also, not shown is an upgrade to SIri's appearance - featuring a playful soundwave when you interact with him/her.
The ability to set a scrollable panorama as your background (known in the tech world as “gyroscope-driven parallaxing”) is a bit of fun to start with, but the jury’s out as to how long it is before this just starts to generate headaches. There are also dynamic backgrounds provided by Apple, such as bubbles that bob around as you move the phone.
There’s merely a hint of this in iOS 7 – and it’s the flickering of the soundwave in the voice memos icon.
Admittedly Android has had adaptable icons for a while but there remains the possibility that Apple could go somewhere even further with this that we're not expecting. We'll just have to wait and see.
Dragging your fingers up from the bottom of the screen (the reverse of summoning the Notification Center) pulls up an instant menu, putting many useful tools right at your fingertips, even (if you so choose) when the phone is locked. It’s known as the “Control Center” and includes a flashlight (sorry flashlight app developers!), clocks tool, camera, calculator, compass, brightness and music player controls as well as all the “Airs” (Airplane mode, AirPlay and AirDrop)
Well we sort of gave it away already, but yes iOS 7 integrates Apple's on-the-go WiFi sharing feature AirDrop but only for the iPhone 5, iPod Touch (5th generation), iPad (4th generation), and iPad Mini.
The camera includes improved “burst” photo taking (a sort of turning the camera into a semi-automatic weapon that takes shots as fast as you can click). The new camera interface also lets the user swipe between four different modes (video, photo, square photo and panoramic photo) and offers live photo filter previewing.
iOS 7 allows the iPhone to support full multitasking - although it’s things like background app updating and while notifications are pushed to your iPhone, so it’s not likely that you’ll notice it. Nevertheless, it’s a definite efficiency improvement. There’s also an improved task manger which gives you a preview of all running apps (see image to the left.)
iOS 7 beefs up the App Store’s capability - adding location aware sharing and new search options such as by age range. And finally - again like Android - there’s automatic app updating.
Apple’s only choice for web browsing gets a moderate upgrade with iOS 7. You’ve now got infinite tabs (displayed in a fun flipbook way as shown to the right) as well as parental controls and some minor improvements to the Reading List and sharing functions. There’s also the addition of Apple’s take on Google’s predictive searching - called “smart search”. Unfortunately this meant the merging of the search field and web address field, which can be frustrating when you’re trying to type web addresses and getting search suggestions.
And lastly, the exciting news that the Music app also integrates Apple's iTunes Radio service, which is to launch initially in the US in late 2013.
If you’re interested in finding out what opportunities these iOS changes present for developers, stay tuned for our next blog post!
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