Apple iOS 7 beta review: Evening the odds

GSMArena team, 14 June 2013.
Pages: 123456789

Tags: Apple, iOS

Introduction

The last couple of iOS updates were hanging on the wrong side between too little and too late. The user interface is six years old now and while it has been repeatedly polished in every revision so far, it was decidedly starting to look stale. And it's not just a matter of visuals either. iOS 5 brought little to nothing in terms of new features and some would even argue that iOS 6 was actually a step back. It seems though that Apple has found inspiration again and is ready to take the game to the opposition.



The UI that launched on the original iPhone way back in June 2007 has finally been put to rest. Android has stepped up in big strides since Gingerbread to dominate the smartphone game. Meanwhile, Windows Phone keeps bringing new features, and even the conservative BlackBerry broke with the old ways and completely redesigned its platform. It was about time Apple did something different with the iOS.

The iOS 7 is among the largest upgrades the OS has ever been given - not quite the game changer that the iPhone OS 2 and the App Store were, but it certainly took a lot of effort. It not only brings some key new features and a few cool system apps, but it also completely overhauls the user interface and tweaks the right things under the hood.

Key features

  • Complete UI overhaul with adaptive colors and system-wide Back swipe gesture
  • New system icons and folders, animated icons available
  • System-wide parallax effect
  • Dynamic wallpapers
  • Control Center with toggles, multimedia controls and shortcuts
  • Updated Notification Center with three tabs
  • All apps multitasking with new card interface
  • Updated Safari browser with unified search filed
  • iTunes radio
  • AirDrop file sharing
  • Inclinometer within the Compass app
  • Camera filters with live preview and new square mode
  • New Photos app with better photo organization, picture editing
  • Weather app with live weather animations
  • Updated Maps with Night mode and Turn-by-Turn walking directions
  • New Siri interface, new supported commands, new voices
  • Contact Blacklist
  • FaceTime audio
  • Activation lock
  • Automatic app update
  • Cellular data usage breakdown
  • Chinese-English, Italian, Korean and Dutch dictionaries
  • iOS in the Car coming in 2014 in selected cars

Main disadvantages

  • Very iTunes dependent for uploading files and multimedia
  • No open file system means you often have to duplicate files
  • Limited integration of 3rd party social networks and services
  • No widgets
  • Air Drop works only between selected iOS 7 or later running devices
  • No lockscreen shortcuts (besides those in the Control Center)
  • Very basic camera UI with limited features and settings
  • Limited codecs support
  • iTunes radio only works in the US

The iOS 7 indeed has gone flat, but brings dynamic wallpapers and parallax view to make those flat icons pop to life. Indeed, the parallax effect is one of the few among the newly introduced features that is truly unique to iOS (yes, it is available as an app for Android, but here it's baked right into the OS). There is lots of transparency throughout the iOS, brand-new flat theme, all-new system apps, live icons, and a lot more.

From a functionality perspective, Apple has finally decided to give us connectivity toggles organized within the new Control Center, iTunes radio streaming service, the notification center has been completely redesigned, there is AirDrop for easy sharing between different iOS devices, and even more capable Siri.



Of course, there are still missing features. And while our prayers of an open file system were always likely to remain unanswered, those for better utilization of the lockscreen (with widgets and shortcuts) had a chance. Well, you can't have it all, they say.

The iOS 7 update will be seeded to iPhone 5, 4S and 4; iPad 2, 3, 4 and mini; and iPod Touch 5 generation. But not all features will become available on all devices. We also believe the iOS will be the last upgrade for the iPhone 4 and iPad 2.

To help you quickly identify what you'll be getting on your iPhone, iPad or iPod, we've got a handy table that lets you see everything at a glance.

Updated SiriiTunes RadioAirDropPanoramaSquare photosCamera filtersPhoto filters

iPhone 4

iPhone 4S

iPhone 5

iPod touch 5G

iPad 2

iPad 3

iPad 4

iPad mini

Enough small talk though, let's get down to it and see what the new iOS is capable of.

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