iOS 7 is here

Unless you have been living under a rock, you should know that iOS 7, the new operating system for iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches was released a few weeks ago.

Should I update?

If you have not yet updated, I would say, “not yet”  iOS 7 has not been without bugs, mainly with the Messages (texting) app.  I attribute the issues people are having with ]update bugs to a less-than-perfect state of their device before they update (see my last blog).  There are work-arounds and fixes for these Messages issues, however, Apple has admitted to fixes coming in iOS 7.1, which I expect within the next week or two.

iOS 7 is on my device, now what?

So, now that you are updated you may notice some changes.  I have, too.  I will let you be the judge of the new fonts, looks and animations.  I just want to give you some tips of some new ways of doing things and a few new hidden features:

  • Swipe to unlock - you can now swipe the screen anywhere (left to right) to open your unlock your phone after it goes to sleep.
  • Search - no longer is the search screen to the left of your home screen, but instead swipe down from the middle of any home screen to access device-wide searches.
  • Lists - to delete individual items in a list (a list of songs, emails, podcasts, it does not matter) swipe the item you want to delete from right to left.  In previous versions of iOS you could swipe either direction.
  • Control Center - this new menu can be accessed by swiping from the bottom of the screen up.  In the Control center you can do things like turn on/off airplane mode, change screen brightness, play or pause music, turn on the flashlight, access the camera and much more.  Try it!  Hint: Start by swiping with your finger OFF the screen on the bottom, and then up.  Another hint - turn your screen brightness to 1/4 or lower to save HUGE amounts of battery power.
  • Force Quiting (Killing) suspended apps.  Just like the previous iOS, double click the Home button to see apps you have recently opened.  To Force Quit them, you simply swipe up on their preview screen.
  • Camera app - It now has a square photo format and photo filters.  To change from video to normal to square to panorama, simply swipe your finger across the screen.  To change between the front and rear cameras, click the button in the upper right.  To turn HDR on (and you should try HDR), click the HDR in the top center.  Filters are found in the lower right and your Camera Roll is in its regular place in the lower left.
  • Photos - along the bottom you will find new designations: Albums contains your Camera Roll, your Photo Stream photos and all of your manually-created albums. Shared contains your shared Photo Streams.  Photos contains all your photos organized by date, time and location.  Its a brilliant way to sort thorough photos.  Each group is called a Moment.  Groups of Moments are called Collections and Collections are listed in Years.  Click the Collections or Years in the upper left to see different views.  Click on any individual photo to zoom into that Moment or the photo itself.
  • Safari - now has the unified address/search bar along the top. You can type your search or a direct URL (website address) into the one bar and Safari will determine whether you are searching for something or wanting to go directly to a website.  Also, in addition to using the previous and next arrows to go to previous or next pages, you can simply swipe the screen from left to right (previous) or right to left (next). Tip: you have to start your swipe at the very edge of the screen.  Also, a new Tab interface (in the lower right) allows you to see previously visited tabs more easily.
  • iTunes & App Store - Turn on Updates to automatically update apps in the background.  Also, see “Cellular” below to limit your data usage.
  • Music - Make sure to try out the new, free iTunes Radio (a Pandora-like music service).  Use the existing genre stations or create your own from a genre, artist or song name.
  • Maps - now Apple Maps (which was never bad in my experience) allows not only automobile routing, but now walking and mass-transit routing. 
  • Home screen folders - Previously you were limited as to the number of apps you could put in a folder.  No longer.  Once a folder’s first screen is filled with apps, simply swipe to the right to see more pages within that folder.

Under the hood - the Settings app has some very cool new features.  Look in Settings >:

  • Cellular - scroll down and you can control which apps can use your cellular data plan.  This is an excellent way to control your data plan usage.  I recommend de-selecting App Store (so app updates are forced to use wifi only) and Photos app (so you are not up- or downloading photos using your cellular data).  You can choose whatever you want, of course.
  • Control Center - turn on Access on Lock Screen so you can get to it without unlocking (like to find the flashlight in the dark).
  • General:
    • Text Size - now you can change the font size of throughout all apps to be larger or smaller.
    • Accessibility > Bold Text - turn this on to make text even more readable 
    • Accessibility > Increase Contrast - turn this on
    • Background App Refresh - Select which apps can refresh themselves as new data comes in for them.  I recommend turning everything off except items from which you want frequent updates.  I have everything off except Find Friends and Google Maps.
    • Auto Lock and Passcode Lock - This is not new, however I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to set a Passcode Lock. While you are in there, turn on enable Erase Data to automatically wipe your device after 10 failed passcode attempts.  Also, reduce the Auto Lock time to save battery.
    • Privacy > Location Services - Also not new, turn off any apps that do not need to know where you are (using the battery to access the GPS) to save battery.
    • Messages: Make sure that iMessage, Send as SMS and MMS Messaging are all ON.
    • Music - Also not new, but go here to enable Sound Check (so all songs play at about the same volume) and EQ (so your music sounds better - choose Loudness as the preset).

This is by no means an exhaustive list, however it should give you a great start in getting familiar with iOS 7.  Enjoy!