iOS 7 – five key features you need to know about

by , Technology Researcher Apple 12/09/2013
iOS 7

Apple has unveiled iOS 7, the latest version of its mobile and tablet operating system. Designed with the aim of producing a “flatter”, more functional user experience for iPhone and iPad owners, iOS 7 is set to be released on 18 September 2013. Just two days before the launch of the iPhone 5S and 5C.

So what new features has Apple created for its refreshed operating system? Read on for our guide to iOS 7′s updated Photos app, iTunes Radio and plenty more.

Mobile phone reviews – check out our test results on the iPhone 5 and its Android rivals

1) A neon redesign - Placing a focus on bold primary colours, iOS 7 is the biggest cosmetic change to Apple’s mobile operating system since the original iPhone launched. All your apps are still arranged in a familiar grid but you’ll notice a lot more colour splashed over those icons. A new typography has been created to make emails and texts easier to read, while the traditional homescreen has been redesigned in minimalist thin lines.

2) iTunes Radio - A new ad-supported internet radio service, iTunes Radio aims to compete with Spotify and Rdio by streaming music to your iPhone and iPad. It’s incorporated directly into iOS 7′s Music app and can create stations based on your favourite songs and bands. You can listen to Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones using iTunes Radio, although a full catalogue of artists and albums is yet to be released. The service is free for iTunes Match subscribers.

We’re hoping the service will launch in the UK soon, however Apple has yet to confirm the release date outside of America at the time of writing.

3) Updated Photos – Apple’s refreshed Photos app means you no longer need to scroll down an endless stream of pictures to get to the snap you want. All the snaps you take with your iPhone are now automatically sorted into logical order, like the desktop version of iPhoto. A range filters are also included so you can add sepia tones or a black and white effects to images as you would with apps like Instagram.

4) Control Center - A much needed functional update that’s largely borrowed from Android, Control Center allows you access to your iPhone’s settings all in one place. Whether you want to play a song in iTunes, turn on airplane mode or adjust your screen’s brightness, this can now all be done with a minimum of hassle.

5) Improved gesture controls – Continuing this focus on usability, pinch and swipe gesture controls have been further incorporated into iOS 7. You can now delete or move a message between folders in Mail by running your finger across it. In Weather, a simple pinch will bring up the temperature and conditions in all your favourite locations. It’s desisgned for customers who are increasingly adept and nimble at using touchscreens.

Is iOS 7 for you?

In addition to these major changes, several additional features have also been incorporated into iOS 7 like automatic app updates and a redesigned Safari with a new tab interface and one tap access to your favourite webpages.

The new iOS will be supported on the iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, including the iPad Mini, and the iPod Touch from the 4th generation onwards. It will be rolled out on 18 September.

What do you think of the redesigned iOS 7? The radical change to the design is likely to split users. Will you be updating your iPhone immediately when the operating system launches later this year? Let us know in the comments below.

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37 comments

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Tristan

Basically Apple is playing catchup with Android (and Blackberry, and Windows Phone). Some of these things Android has had for years, others only about a year.

Nothing particularly new or exciting, just has the Apple rebranding of familiar concepts (a bit rich given their current strategy of trying to sue the competition out of business for ‘copying Apple’).

If you absolutely must have an iPhone, then so long as they fix issues with crashes of some third party apps, then its an upgrade and probably worth it, but nothing to make an iOS device stand out from the competition.

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Clive

Be careful Tristan, Which? won’t like you dissing their favourite company who can do no wrong. Have you noticed in the latest issue they have stopped calling items MP3 players and tablets but now call them iPods and iPads. (p23 last but one paragraph).

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Phil

Do not forget that touch screen phones did not exist until the iPhone 1 and that every mobile since resembles the original iPhone, Apple is hardly playing catchup to anyone!! It is so much easier to copy and improve than to originate. Copying is after all flattery and the original iPhone was groundbreaking- none of the cloned androids or others can match the significance or impact of the original iPhone

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Mike

iPhone 1 first touch screen phone? Maybe according to Apple, but not fact. Try the Handspring Treo – 180 and 270 came out in 2002. So the iPhone was five years later.
Oh and talking of copying, the Treos were rectangular and had buttons along the bottom. Oops.

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Dan Brook

I had several touchscreen phones (Sony Ericsson P800, 900 etc) prior to the release of the iPhone, the world thinks Apple invented this tech; simply put, they didn’t and are nowhere near the current batch of Android phones from manufacturers such as Huawei, HTC, and Samsung. Best keep facts correct prior to posting on a forum, and let your Steve Jobs sycophancy rest in peace with him.

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alicksasylum

I do have Apple products including an iPhone but, I must correct you. The first touch screen phone was the Sony Ericsson P910, which I still have to this day. I also had the Sony Ericsson M600 (2006), Sony Ericsson P1i (2007) and the Sony Ericsson W960i (2007). The P1i & W960i were both available in 2007 around the same time as the first iPhone. My favourites were/are the P910i and M600 (which I no longer have). The handwriting recognition on these phones was second to none, unfortunately the operating system was always a bit flaky.

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stephen r

Have used Android and i have used Apple.My Android phone was crashing frequently and apps often needed re-installing.I simply have never had a problem with my last 2 Apple phones and these apps are tested by Apple so they always work well.I can only go by my past experience and am glad i have chosen them and taken Which? advice even though they are expensive.I am sure there are many good Android devices out there.I have noticed the latest which top scoring best buy is Android.I dont believe which? to be biased,just saying which they think is the best at that time.The latest ios7 looks good and its about time they refreshed the look of ios,Phones never stand still thats why its good to have competition between Apple,Samsung ect. When there is competition there will always be inovation and thats good for everyone.

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Peter Day

Oh, Which! When will you get over this crush on Apple. Do I remember a feature on the latest features on Android Gingerbread, or Android Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean? No I don’t. When are you going to wake up to the fact that Android phones and tablets now massively outsell Apple.
I mean, automatic app updates, yawn! Control Center…how come it didn’t have that from the beginning?

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Mike W

Glad it’s not just me fed up with Which fawning over anything and everything Apple. Seriously considering cancelling my subscription!

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Pcologist

I entirely agree.
Which now worship at the Apple altar and have done for a long while and this corrupts all their comments on all technology reporting, basically because they have little or none experience of any other manufacturers. Their so called tech reporters are very poor and biased in their reporting.
Have been a member for more than twenty years but this Apple bias is annoying me so much I am losing respect for Which!
I am afraid that this will eventually steer me away from subscribing to Which shame really but I demand honest UNBIASED reporting.

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Paul G

Do you subscribe to Which? only for their technology reporting?

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Robert Edwards

Disappointed the new IOS7 will not be available for my trusty 3GS

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Sheila Wilson

Me too!

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George

And apparently iOS 7 will break any apps that use subscriptions. Pocketgpsworld CamerAlert for example. The developer of that app said this: “Apple in their anxiety to please the privacy movement have made changes to the way the iDevices are identified. The main result of this is that they have effectively made iOS 7 incompatible with CamerAlert and no doubt many other applications that use subscriptions. The iOS no longer provides a way to uniquely identify either an Apple Account or a device making it impossible to deliver the database updates to subscribers.”

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Keith

To be fair to Which, most of the media seem to be obsessed with Apple. I knew we were in trouble when the BBC first announced the iPlayer!
All the same, ‘(IOS7 has been) “redesigned to provide a fantastic user experience for iPhone and iPad owners” ‘ is just ludicrous.

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Philip

I loved my IPod Touch when it could shuffle music. Several upgrades ago this facility disappeared for some peculiar reason. I know a lot of people use this facility so why did Apple remove it?

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Smithiesmith

Only problem with apple is the price. But you do get what you pay for. I wont ever move back to Android or PC now. Looking forward to IOS 7

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Ray

The function I really want is the ability to rearrange my photos by dragging them. It doesn’t sound as if this is coming yet. Please take this on board Apple.

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jc3

Every body focuses on the ‘flat design’; in fact Apple has given depth to the design. If these were the only changes, it would be disappointing. There is a redesign under the hood. Apart from the big changes there are little ones that I like:
The typing on the keyboard is precise
You can zoom while recording a movie
Etc, etc
As an ios programmer, Apple has introduced APIs that on items that will make the apps so much better.
This is my 2 cents …

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peter

I did my start-up company accounts on a apple II 40 years ago , but now find their ethics dubious.
There are others which serve my purpose as well.
Which does seem to be enamoured of the brand.

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Gazmaj

Apple too expensive although iPhone deals will be more affordable than ever as this year progresses.
Already the Apple machine has recognised the competition is fierce at least they haven’t lagged like Sony & Blackberry fearful of change to their ethos. Corporate companies suffer from such indecision which is ironic when you think ‘moving forward’ is the key corporate repeat phrase. All good for us consumers. Android, Apple, Blackberry, HTC, Samsung all do good things but if you want to do documents on the go it’s Android, Blackberry all the way so much more flexible. Pages on iwhatever is fiddly; of course it works but their are far better answers.

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JohnS

Got the galaxy tab and the S3 but was extremely disappointed with them. Bought an iPhone 4 second hand and an iPad 3 and its like comparing a mini to a rolls. The apple products are way better.

They both do the same and the camera on the S3 is superior but when it comes to mission critical items, apple is the only choice. Everything is just 2 or 3 taps away whereas with the S3, which can do the same, often is a lot more taps away. The on screen keyboard and user input is way more precise on an apple device.

With the exception of Pages, Keynote and Numbers, all the apps I use on my iPhone are also available for the android. Most android devices can have external memory which apple can’t. Sounds great but I found I was running out of memory as a lot of the apps have to be installed on the internal memory of the android device which makes the memory card less appealing unless you like carrying lots of songs, pictures and videos with you. Having said this I would love to see apple release the ability to have external memory.

iPhones biggest problem is that it cannot get delivery reports on text messages (with the exception of iMessage) and does not have templates for text messages which are things that have been available since analogue days.

Don’t know if this is the shape of things to come but android phones delivery reports are pretty dire compared to Symbian devices and older phones. Ditto blackberry devices delivery reports.

In my line of work I reply heavily on delivery reports to save money!

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S. Burkeman

Will IoS 7 tackle the problems which lots of people have been having with FaceTime since they moved on to IoS 6 from IoS 5?

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Mark L

I was hoping that the new iPhone 5S would be better that it is. Why is the camera not improved (compared to Nokia Luminar 920).

Surely if Apple are loosing so much market share you would have thought that their senior management would go to their technical boffins and say “we need the best camera, the fastest processor, the slickest operating system, now make it happen”. Instead it feels like they have said improve it a bit and then we can get our loyal fan base to fork out AGAIN for the latest Apple product.

Come on Apple step up your game or you will just continue to haemorrhage market share.

Guess I stick with my iPhone 4 a bit longer.

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Nigel Wickenden

@Mark L, I’ll be sticking with my iPhone 4S for a while too.

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AB

Which are simply reporting what they believe to be the best phone, and the Apple iPhone IS the best phone.

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Peter Day

Once upon a time….now not even Which claim the iPhone is the best phone

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jimpy

The new colour system is garish and horrible, almost for this reason alone, I doubt if I will bother to update, apart from a a lot of it being change for changes sake and having spent some time getting used to the idiosyncrasies of v6, see little extra value in v7 to have to relearn it all again.

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Cbear88

To everyone who is saying Which is biased to Apple, the bestest phone they say they have ever tested is actually the samsung galaxy 4 and the two top best buys are both samsung.

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Frank

Leaving aside the tribal arguments, as an iPad and iPhone user I have upgraded both to iOS 7. I like the more readable screen and it appears slicker in operation. Hopefully the changes to find my phone etc will also improve security.
I had some problems in downloading but persistence worked!

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alecpjd

Can’t see the point of the new colour scheme, seems to be change just for the sake of change. Previews of running apps is a sensible improvement, but no immediately obvious improvement to Maps – still don’t recognise a fraction of what Google maps does

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alan

when will Which? get around to developing its app for Android and not just for apple.When they do that it will go some way to avoid the Apple bias claim

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Jean

I don’t like the new newsstand. It looks clinical and flat. Why go away from the old retro style bookshelf that was very nice to look at.

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Les

No real issues either way for me with iOS 7 but I agree with those who dislike the new colour scheme. Pleased however that the “Junk” eMail folder now appears towards the top of the folder list.

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Gordon

This is a great update, to an already excellent OS. I’ve tried Android, Windows and Apple devices, and don’t understand the constant Apple-bashing that goes on. Yes, they’re not the first to market with new technology or features, yes, they’re particularly litigious, but their kit works, and it keeps working – which is completely different to my experience on Windows and Android devices.

Had an iPhone 3GS for 3 years before moving to a Nokia 920 – disaster. Returned to Vodafone for repair 4 times in 6 weeks. Went next door and got an iPhone 5 from Apple store. Wife’s HTC with Android has battery life of about 10 minutes, and reboots constantly.

I’ve a 7 year-old iPod in the car, which still sounds fantastic. What other mobile gadget can anyone claim does that?

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Tom Henderson

I updated my iPhone 4 to iOS7. It absolutely killed it!
It was very difficult to read a lot of the texts and the phone really badly slowed down.
I suspect that Apple have purposely crippled their older ophones with this update.
I bough an iPhone 5S, which works a lot better with this version of the operating system.

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Muffthepanman

Since upgrading my ipad2 to ios7 the microphone has stopped working. So recording video, skype & FaceTime are pointless. It’s a common problem however apple are in denial !!

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