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Summary:

Apple’s iOS 7 may have a few hundred new features but these stand out to me in my usage over the past few months. Some are borrowed from other platforms, sure. At the end of the day, as a user, I don’t mind.

ipad-ios7-4

As promised, Apple released iOS 7 on Wednesday for multiple iOS devices. The software represents a radical departure from the now 6-year old mobile platform, with a full face-lift of icons, fonts and features. Some of the changes are simply visual but there are a host of new functions that have impressed me over the past few months of using the iOS 7 beta.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of every iOS 7 feature, but a highlight of some that I feel were done well and are immediately useful. And before you upgrade, you may want to get your iOS device ready for the new software with these steps.

iTunes Radio

I mentioned earlier today that even though I generally use Google Android devices, iTunes Music has already found a place in my daily life. I’ll be canceling my Google Play Music All Access trial before the $9.99 monthly charge kicks in because I find iTunes Radio much better for me. Music tastes vary so your experience could differ, but iTunes Music won’t cost you anything to try; it’s free with iOS. You’ll find it in the iOS 7 Music app. Choose a preset station or create your own based on artists or songs you like.

iTunes Radio settings

An Improved Spotlight (if you can find it!)

Gone is the “swipe left from the home screen” action to search on your iOS device. Apple moved the search feature to above the home screen; sort of. If you pull down from the top of the screen, you’ll get the new Notification Center. So how do you get to search? Pull the home screen itself down and a Search bar will appear at the top of the screen. Enter a search term and iOS will scour your device for any matches in Apps, Mail, Contacts, Music, Calendar events, Videos and more. It’s not quite a true Universal Search because you can’t search the web from here. Still, it’s quite good; and fast on my iPhone 5.

spotlight iOS 7

Better application updating

In the App Store settings, you can now tell iOS to automatically update your apps as needed. That’s better than getting a numbered badge to indicate there are updates available. Don’t worry, the Updates section of the App Store is still there. And if you set iOS up for automatic updates, this section offers a history of what was updated — and when — automatically. Even better: Once an app is updated, a small blue dot will appear next to the app name on your home screen so you know you have a new version of the app.

Control Center

Yup, this feature may have been lifted from Android but it’s well worth it. Access the new Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of your display. Regardless of what app — or even if your phone is locked — the new Control Center pops right up offering quick access to highly useful functions: Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb and Rotation Lock. You can also control screen brightness, any music that’s playing or tap buttons for AirDrop or AirPlay. Lastly there are four icons for specific apps: Flashlight, Clock, Calculator and Camera.

command center iOS 7

Super app switching

It’s another “borrowed” feature — this time from webOS — but the multitasking interface is totally revamped and much better. Each open app is a card and you can see three at a time. The app cards show the app in its last state; they’re not actively updating. Slide these around and you can quickly see all of your open apps; tap one and you’ll jump right in. Want to close an app, or two or three? You can do that by dragging the app cards up and off the screen; up to three at a time if you want.

Apple says there are 200 new features in iOS 7, so there plenty more to explore and enjoy. This handful are among my favorite updates so far. It’s easy to think that the software is simply iOS 6 with a fresh coat of flat paint but I think that’s a short-sighted observation. The more I’ve used iOS 7, the more the update has impressed me.

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  1. Hm… Surprised “New Station from Artist” and “New Station from Song” haven’t been patented by Pandora or somebody else with prior art.

    Anyway, doesn’t Apple have any interest in creating something new, instead of duplicating what has been done before?

  2. “Borrowed”? Well then return it. Apple would have sued you and called it “slavishly copying”

    1. … and declared thermonuclear war.

    2. and just where would Microsoft be if they didn’t make a habit of “borrowing” and stealing”?

  3. In a Donnie Baker voice: “Shut up Randy! Just ’cause you don’t wanna switch from your tampons to iPads! Besides the only thing you create is b.o. in the break room! You can’t criticize Apple unless you make more money than them, they’re smarter than you and richer than you, it’s state law. Anyway, I gotta go before Randy launches his Being-A-Dick App.”

  4. Great overview, Kevin. Thanks! Appreciate the reminder link to Geoffrey Goetz’s article, too, about backing up first.

  5. Howard Greenstein Wednesday, September 18, 2013

    If you have control center enabled in lock screen and someone takes your phone, can they just turn on airplane mode and keep you from finding it with “Find my phone?” or is there some security feature?

    1. Maybe but I found out that in Settings you can turn off access to the control center on the lock screen.

    2. They could just take out the SIM card to prevent the person from using find my iPhone. If someone wants to stop you from using it it wouldnt be hard anyway

  6. Its interesting that when apple does it, it is borrowing. When its done to them its stealing

  7. I am terrified. Yesterday, I erased an entire iMessage history. When searching my phone for a keyword, the old, deleted text pops up. I believe it is still available, as I THINK I set my iCloud to back up text when it hits wifi. I am hundreds of miles from my home PC. If I upgrade my software, do I run the risk of losing the deleted history, forever and ever, amen? Please forgive my ignorance. I am not tech savvy at all.

    1. Additionally, if I plug into power and connect to wifi, if my phone does back up to iCloud, will the deleted text then be gone? Should I just sit tight and do nothing until I’m positive I won’t lose the deleted iMessage history for good?

  8. how do i delete individual songs? Ive tried everything and the slide finger thing is not working!! HELP!!

    1. swipe from right to left

        1. I’m having the same exactly problem!!

    2. swipe from LEFT to RIGHT

      1. That works — unless a song is on your cloud. Then you can’t do anything. It sucks. Anyone know how to erase songs from the cloud??

        1. You have enable Make All Songs Visible, download them ALL from the Cloud, then turn off Make All Songs Visible, and manually delete. Very time consuming initially. But, once it’s done, it’s done. I

          1. Thanks very much it was driving me crazy..

  9. iTunes Radio not available in Mexico, bummer, hope they introduce it soon.

  10. I’d like to know how to delete individual songs as well. It looks like it automatically loaded any song I’d ever bought from iTunes, a lot of which date back to my early high school days, and I cannot stand most of the songs on my music app because of that. If anyone figures out how to delete them, please reply.

    1. For removing the purchased songs, try logging out of your Apple ID in you iPhone by going to settings > iTunes & App Store > then log out of the Apple ID, then bring in the music you want on iTunes, then sign back into the apple ID on your phone. Should be okay.

      1. I signed out of itunes and then went back to my music and by swiping right to left I was able to delete. Thank goodness! I was begining to be very disappointed as I couldnt stand half the music that suddenly popped up when I installed the update.

      2. Thank you so much!! I didn’t want all the iTunes song on my new iPhone5c. I just can’t figure out how to get my android songs into it, since they’re not in iTunes and I cannot find them on my laptop. Agggghhh!

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