iOS 7: Music, Videos, Photos + Camera

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Soon after Apple debuted the completely redesigned iOS 7 on June 10, 2013, it became obvious that the iOS user experience has changed enough to merit a public re-introduction—a forward-looking discussion of the updated user interface and integrated apps. Over the next week, our series on iOS 7 will look at every key section of Apple’s new operating system, starting with setting up iOS devices, the new Lock Screen and Home Screen, then continuing through other major UI elements and built-in apps. For a broad look at all of iOS 7’s changes from iOS 6, check out our big picture look at iOS 7, published on June 10, as well as our articles on iOS 7 setup, the Home Screen, and Lock Screen. Note that some features and graphics may change before iOS 7’s final release.


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Graphically, the iOS Music app has been updated to match the rest of iOS—and quite nicely at that—but its core navigation is mostly the same as in iOS 6. One of the biggest differences is that entries in the artist view are now listed with an album cover and a listing of how many albums and songs by that artist are available, rather than a simple text list. Tapping reveals all of that artist’s albums collected together onto one scrolling page.


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Likewise, the Now Playing screen takes on new graphical design elements, but works much the same as before. The tracking scrubber has been moved below the artwork, as have the title, artist, and album information, plus Repeat, Create, and Shuffle buttons. These are now represented with text, rather than icons. Create replaces “Genius,” the prior iOS tool for auto-creating similar song playlists. Now, Create offers three options: starting a new Genius Playlist, creating an iTunes Radio station based on the artist, or creating an iTunes Radio station based on the song. Notably, the AirPlay control is gone from this page; you can activate it using the button in Control Center.


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Cover Flow has been redesigned as a flat, scrolling mosaic of 12-15 album covers at a time, depending on the iPod/iPhone model you’re using. Any entries without artwork are represented by a black box, with white text running diagonally across it.


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Rather than the album flipping over when you tap it in this orientation, the cover now zooms in and displays next to the album’s track list.


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iTunes Radio is one of iOS 7’s main new features, and a free competitor to services such as Pandora. Found in the Music app, it allows users to listen to “stations” curated by Apple, or create their own based on similarities between artists, songs, and genres.


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Once a station is playing, tracks can be voted up or down to tailor the station. Tapping on the i button at the top of the screen brings up a listing of the currently playing track, new station creation buttons, and copyright information about the song playing. The track can be purchased from anywhere within iTunes Radio, although at this point, the app doesn’t seem to recognize songs that have already been purchased or are on the device.


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iTunes Radio keeps track of songs that are played, allowing users to easily find and purchase what they’ve heard. There’s also a wish list feature, allowing favorite tracks to be tagged and easily accused. Notably, the service seems to have the same limited number of skips per hour as Pandora and others.


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Update: Music on the iPad looks very much the same as it does on the iPhone and iPod touch, but there are some differences. The most pronounced is a redesign of the song information and playback control bar, which no longer appears at the very top of the screen, but rather sits below buttons to take you to the iTunes Store and Now Playing screens, as well as a text indicator of the currently sorted view of your library. The Now Playing screen is still present, but very bare, and is not necessary to access playback controls. Unlike the iPod and iPhone, there is no Cover Flow-like landscape mode here.



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iOS 7 notably brings support for iTunes in the Cloud to the Videos app, specifically in regards to movies and TV shows. Now, anything that’s been purchased with the Apple ID on the device automatically shows up alongside content that’s been transferred, and can be downloaded at will. Content that’s been purchased through the iTunes Store has detailed information in text form.


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For TV shows, this information includes a summary of the series, and related shows. Similar information is displayed for movies, and all of the details are available even if the video hasn’t actually been downloaded to the device. Content that wasn’t downloaded from iTunes, but still recognized, gives you the option to buy more episodes.


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The pop-over video controls have been redesigned to match the rest of iOS 7, including transparency, but are functionally the same. No new features have been added here, but the controls look better than ever before and interfere less with video viewing.


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Update: The Videos app works in both landscape and portrait orientations on the iPad. Each category—Movies, TV Shows, and Music Videos—takes advantage of the larger screen by displaying information to the right of, rather then beneath, your selection. Otherwise, the layout is almost identical to what you see on smaller devices, complete with translucent playback controls at the top and bottom of the screen.



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Photos has been significantly redesigned; instead of a grid displaying all the pictures you’ve taken, it’s now broken down into a hierarchy based on Years, Collections, and Moments, with Years as the top level. Collections are groups of images taken in the same area, during a range of time, while Moments are broken down even further, to specific locations and times. This is all handled automatically by iOS. In the Year and Collections views, users can scrub across the photos, with magnified images popping up as appropriate.


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The Photos Share Sheet now prominently displays AirDrop, followed by standard services such as Mail and Facebook, and the ability to copy a photo, assign it to a contact, and more. Flickr and Vimeo integration are new for photo and video sharing, respectively; YouTube remains an option for video sharing.


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Shared Photos now displays an Activity page, showing chronologically what’s been added to each of the streams you’re subscribed to. The Shared Photo galleries don’t adopt the new hierarchy, and instead are just listed in a stream.


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With iOS 7, subscribers can now post to to photo streams. Videos can also be shared now in Photo Streams. Also notable: deleting a photo now removes it from your device and from Photo Stream as well.


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Update: Photos on the iPad looks like Photos on the iPhone, but scaled to fit the larger display. There are filters under the edit menu, allowing you to change the look of a photo after you take it.



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Apple has dramatically altered the look of its Camera app in iOS 7. Now, switching between modes—Video, Photo, Square, and Pano—is handled simply by swiping back and forth anywhere on the screen. Square is new to iOS 7 and just what it sounds like—direct competition with services such as Instagram, cropping your image into a square shape. HDR (high-dynamic range photography) is presented as an on-screen option in Photo and Square, and takes on a blue tone when selected.


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Standard and Square photos also now support filters, natively, on the latest iOS devices. Three filters are black and white, and five are various shades. Tapping on the filter button displays a live view of all eight, plus the standard centered no-filter look. Another new feature in the app: zooming is now possible while a video is being shot. iOS 7 also includes support for 60fps video recording, presumably for new and yet-to-be-released cameras.


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Update: Although it looks pretty much the same as on the iPhone and iPod touch, Camera on iPad is missing a few features. It can shoot video, regular photos, and square ones, but lacks filters, and the ability to shoot in panoramic mode.

More Information

For more information on iOS 7, check out big picture iOS 7 guide, and other articles in this series, including iOS 7 setup, the Home Screen, and Lock Screen.

  1. Apple has become increasingly obsessed with displaying album art in any way possible. It was neat at first. Nothing spoils a good idea more than following-up with a bad one, and Apple came up with a real doozy: generating photo directories of one thing (artists) using photos of something else (album covers). If an album cover does not include a likeness of the artist or any semblance of that Storm Thorgerson magic, the mere sight of it might be evocative of nothing. As a result, the “artists” tab on iOS devices usually displays a hodgepodge of graphics that impart no useful information–hasn’t Apple recently gone on on record as saying that’s a no-no?

    I’m also far from sold on one of iOS7’s key design principles: replacing compact, easily recognizable icons with “floating” tap-able text–even in cases where text doesn’t fit (“pano”?!?) There’s a reason traffic signals glow in garish colors rather than display the words “green,” “yellow,” or “red” in sky-blue Helvetica Light. Adding text on top of text might achieve a more unified design concept, but there are times when distinctions between the UI and user content should be readily apparent. Seams, signs, and blinking lights exist for a reasons.

  2. They got rid of coverflow and the 3D animations?!? Why? Just what, exactly, is going to distinguish the iPhone/iPad/iPod touch from all the other “Android” devices out there. Certainly not the visuals. And when it come to touch screen devices, the visuals are EVERYTHING!

    They sucked all the fun and life right out of the OS. iOS just lost its sole.

  3. Nice article!

    I do have a complaint about iOS 7 Beta and it’s the fact that I can no longer listen to all the songs by a specific Artist; I don’t know if you have figured out how to do this.

    For example: Say I’m listening to Metallica under “Artists” in the Music App and I want to shuffle through all their albums. Well, I can’t do this! I can only shuffle on one album at a time.

    I have Artists where I only have 1 or 2 songs per album and, so far, I have to manually pick the songs when in iOS 6 I just hit Shuffle and go! One workaround is to create Playlists that is SO tedious.


  4. I’m with Jonathan Chen. I haven’t figured out how to shuffle all by an artist , which is why I came here. If anyone figures it out, please post!

  5. Displaying album art in the list view means you only see 6 artists instead of 8 which means now you have to scroll more. Sucks. I got 50GBs of music. I don’t want to scroll endlessly. I hope there are ways to disable album art. I hope they don’t screw up genre view and the other views too. in a pinch i already got the Denon app which is laid out similar to the old music player organizationally. in a pinch i can do that.

    i’m convinced much of these changes Jobs would have said no to because the are illogical.

    Also putting those create and shuffle buttons right next to the volume is a recipe for people to accidentally activate them. I’m never gonna use them. Would be nice if i had the option to hide stuff.

    also regarding photos i hope it works well because i’ve got hundreds of photos normally taking on seperate days. i hope i don’t have a giant list of one image and tons of wasted white space because rather than make a grid apple forces groupings

  6. my one worry is they’ll make it cumbersome. now it goes genre, rock, artist, album, song. I got tons of artists so i’ll be pissed if they switch it to genre, rock, song, then give me a random list of 10k alphabetized songs.

  7. I would like to know how to turn off album art in Artist view. It would not bother me much, except that it is not pulling the album art from my library. It is pulling it from Apple. I know this because it is displaying images that I do not have in my library. Some of the images it is displaying I know for a fact are not even albums. They are just photos of the artist.
    This is disturbing to me, as that means whenever I launch the music app, it is going out to the internet (even if I’m not on WiFi) and downloaded images.
    I am not sure why Apple would even do this?

  8. I just don’t like it that the album title appears diagonally on the screen when art work is not included. I want it to be displayed horizontally. Period. Apple doesn’t allow me to change this and that is again something I don’t like about that whole iOS upgrade.
    Or am I missing something ?? Is there a workaround ?

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