Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 7.0
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The new Camera app gets a new UI design shift, with the previous video/photo button now being replaced with swipe gestures to move between different shooting modes. A “Square” mode has been added on most devices, and Panorama has been moved into its own mode. Buttons to control the flash, switch to the front camera, and toggle HDR mode all remain in much the same places as before, slightly redesigned.
Holding down the shutter button—either the on-screen button or the hardware volume buttons—will take multiple photos in a “burst mode” of sorts. While not the same as the Apple-promoted “burst mode” added to the iPhone 5s, the feature demonstrates—and takes advantage of—the noticeable increase in image capture speed in iOS 7.
iOS 7 also adds the ability to adjust zoom during video recording. The iPhone 5s uniquely gains a Slo-Mo (720p/120 frame-per-second) video recording mode, as well.
Filters (iPhone 5/5c/5s, iPod touch)
The newer iPhone models and the iPod touch also gain access to a new live filters feature in the standard and square photo modes, via a new button found in the bottom right corner. Tapping this brings up a list of eight different filters that can be applied: Mono, Tonal, Noir, Fade, Chrome, Process, Transfer, and Instant.
Selecting a filter immediately applies it to the live view and any photos taken while in that view, and the filter will remain selected until the user chooses another filter or turns the feature off by selecting “none.” It’s worth mentioning as well that both the standard photo and square photo views can each have their different filters selected independently of each other.
A new main view has been added to the Photos app that groups all photos by where and when they were taken rather than simply presenting them in a single big camera roll. Each set of photo is grouped under a header showing the name of the location the photos were taken, which the user can tap on to see a map view. A “Share” button also allows quick sharing of an entire grouping of photos without having to select each of them individually.
Users can tap in the top-left corner to move up to a broader “Collections” view, and from there up to a “Years” view, which by default provide a “summarized” mosaic of photos grouped by larger date and location ranges. An option can be found under “Photos & Camera” in the iOS Settings app to switch off the Summarize Photos view which will show ALL photos in each of the Collection and Year groupings.
Note that these collections in the main Photos screen now group ALL of the images that are stored on the device, including those from the traditional “Camera Roll” along with Photo Stream content and even photos synced from iTunes. Deleting a photo from this view will delete it from both the Photo Stream and the local Camera Roll—a useful convenience if you actually want to discard bad photos without having to manually remove them in two places, but not necessarily as efficient for simply clearing up space on your device. Note that photos synced from your computer via iTunes still cannot be deleted directly on the device.
An “Albums” view presents photos organized in the more traditional manner, with Camera Roll and Photo Stream shown separately. New groupings are also available here for Panorama photos and Videos, and Faces and Events synced from iPhoto or Aperture are now treated as albums in this view, rather than receiving their own section on the bottom menu bar.
A new “Shared” section provides access to shared streams, along with an “Activity” view which displays activity across all shared streams—new photos and videos, likes, and comments—in a single timeline view.
Orienting an iPhone or iPod touch into landscape orientation provides a side-scrolling stream activity view, similar to that found on the Apple TV.
You can also now optionally allow your subscribers to add photos to any of your shared streams for collaborative albums. Videos can also now be added to shared streams.
The same filters from the Camera app on the iPhone 5/5c/5s and iPod touch have also been added to the built-in photo editor, and are actually available on all devices except for the iPad 2. Filters can be previewed during editing, and a second tap after applying a filter allows you to remove it again, a nice touch that allows for quick comparisons without having to scroll all the way back to the “None” option.
Edited photos that are re-saved to the camera roll also preserve their original date and time stamp, placing them appropriately in the new collections timeline.
iOS 7 adds new options for sharing photos. The new sharing dialog now allows multiple photos to be selected during the sharing process, with sharing options adjusting based on the type and number of items selected.
Options have also been added for sharing of photos to Flickr and videos to Vimeo.
AirDrop (iPhone 5, fourth-generation iPad, iPad mini, iPod touch)
AirDrop is an entirely new feature in iOS 7 for fast and easy sharing of information between two iOS devices in close proximity. AirDrop can be used to send out just about anything that can be shared from the standard iOS 7 sharing dialog, including photos, webpage links, contacts, App Store and iTunes links, and even Passbook passes. Compatible iOS 7 devices nearby will simply appear as contacts at the top of your sharing dialog box and you can simply tap on one to send the current item to them via AirDrop.
The user on the receiving end is prompted with an AirDrop dialog box showing them the identity of the sender and the item being sent to them, which they can then choose to decline or accept. Received items are automatically saved into the appropriate app for the item. Items can also be sent to multiple AirDrop contacts at the same time simply by tapping on each one in the AirDrop sharing dialog.
AirDrop requires that both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi be enabled, although users do not need to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network, or any Wi-Fi network at all—devices initiate contact via Bluetooth and an adhoc Wi-Fi connection is then negotiated directly between the two devices to make this happen transparently to the end user. An option in the Control Center allows AirDrop to be turned off or limited to receiving from contacts only; the latter option requires that both users be logged into iCloud and have each other’s iCloud Apple ID e-mail addresses stored in their Contacts.
Unfortunately, AirDrop requires specific Wi-Fi hardware that is not available on older iOS devices, and is therefore limited to the iPhone 5/5c/5s, fifth-generation iPod touch, iPad mini, and fourth-generation iPad.
As with other parts of iOS 7, Siri gets a new look accompanied by some voice enhancements. The traditional female Siri voice used in North America has improved clarity and is joined by a new Male voice option that can be chosen in the Siri section of the iOS Settings app. Siri now takes over the screen with larger text against a dark background and displays a wave form pattern at the bottom of the screen as you speak.
Siri can also now search additional sources including Bing and Wikipedia, and even search Twitter for tweets on a specific subject. Additional new features include the ability to control iTunes Radio, return calls, play voicemail messages, and toggle system features such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Airplane mode, adjust screen brightness, and directly access options in the Settings app.
Another major new feature debuting with iOS 7 is iTunes Radio, Apple’s new free streaming radio service. Currently available in the U.S. only, iTunes Radio is more akin to Pandora than on-demand services such as Spotify, allowing users to listen to featured “stations” curated by Apple or create their own based on a selected artist, song, or genre.
While listening to a station, users can vote the currently playing track up or down in order to tailor their listening experience, or skip the current track to move on to the next one. Users can tap on a button at the top of the screen to bring up details about the current track and station and a button to purchase the current track from the iTunes Store. A history of recently played tracks is maintained so that users can go back and preview or purchase a track they’ve already listened to, and tracks can also be added to the user’s iTunes Store wishlist for later purchasing.
iTunes Store & App Store
Other than a standard iOS 7 facelift, the iTunes Store and App Store layouts remain much the same as in prior iOS versions, although both apps offer a couple of interesting new features with iOS 7, including automatic app updates, wish list support in the App Store, camera-based gift card redemption, and a new location-based app discovery feature.
Automatic App Updates
iOS 7 can now automatically update apps in the background, without requiring the user to visit the App Store app to download them manually. Recent updates are still tracked within the App Store app so users can see what has been updated and read the release notes, but it should rarely be necessary to visit this section to check for new updates unless you’re in a real hurry to get the latest version of an app.
Automatic App Updates are enabled by default, but can be turned off under the iTunes & App Stores section in the iOS Settings app if you’d prefer to apply your updates the old-fashioned way. Note that this is an all-or-nothing option—there is no way to exclude specific apps from being automatically updated.
Popular Near Me
A new “Popular Near Me” section has been added to the App Store allowing users to see a list of apps that are popular near their current location. It’s unclear whether Apple is basing this on user data in any way or whether it’s simply an Apple-curated list of apps, but it’s worth noting most apps on these lists appear to be location-relevant, such as travel guides and transit apps.
Camera-based Gift Card Redemption
First introduced in iTunes 11 last fall, iOS 7 now adds the ability to redeem iTunes Store gift cards simply by scanning a code using the device’s camera. Tapping the “Redeem” button found at the bottom of the main iTunes Store or App Store screen will take the user to the camera option, with an additional button providing the ability to enter a code manually.
As with the feature in iTunes, this remains limited to only newer gift cards with a box around the code; unfortunately codes from older gift cards as well as promotional coupons given out at stores like Starbucks will still need to be entered the old-fashioned way.
The system-wide iOS 7 sharing menu is now incorporated into both apps, allowing store links to be sent to other devices via AirDrop as well as the usual sharing methods of Messages, Mail, Twitter, and Facebook. Additional options allow the user to copy the store link to the clipboard, send an item as a gift or add an item to the user’s store wish list.
Find My iPhone and Activation Lock
With iOS 7, Apple has made a significant security enhancement to Find My iPhone that will hopefully help to discourage the theft of iOS devices by rendering them virtually useless to would-be-thieves. Find My iPhone was a great start when it was released years ago in terms of helping users track their lost or stolen devices, but it suffered from one very important weakness: it could very easily be defeated simply by erasing the device in question, removing all of the tracking and location features and effectively turning into a “good as new” product.
Apple has addressed this problem with a new feature in iOS 7 that ties your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to the original owner’s Apple ID even after it’s been completely wiped and erased, requiring that this Apple ID and password be entered before the device can be reactivated, even after a full wipe.
Activation Lock is based in technology that has been used by Apple since the debut of the original iPhone in 2007. Every iPhone has had to “phone home” to Apple’s servers for authorization before it can actually be used. In the early days, this was a form of secondary carrier-lock, ensuring that devices were properly signed up for service with AT&T before they could be used. For whatever reason, Apple chose to extend activation to non-carrier iOS devices such as the iPod touch. In essence, until you plugged into iTunes and “activated” your device, it was essentially a brick.
Since Apple still requires iOS devices to contact Apple’s servers to be activated before they can be used, Apple’s servers can simply refuse to activate a device that’s still registered under somebody else’s Apple ID.
Activation Lock is automatically enabled alongside the Find My iPhone (or iPad, or iPod touch) feature, and once enabled an iOS device cannot even be wiped through normal means without supplying the user’s Apple ID and password to disable this feature. Likewise, attempting to disable the Find My iPhone feature, or remove the iCloud account from an iOS device will also require that the user’s password be entered. Should a device still be forcibly erased through other means, however, iOS and iTunes will refuse to go past the initial setup process until the original owner’s Apple ID and password are supplied.
Find My iPhone and Remote Erase
iOS 7 also adds an additional useful feature that allows the user to display a phone number and custom message on their device after sending a remote erase request and wiping the device’s content. This message will also appear as a popup dialog box if the device is connected to a computer running iTunes.
This allows users to remotely wipe a device in order to protect their personal data while still leaving some contact information that would hopefully allow an honest finder to return the device.
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