Soon after Apple debuted the completely redesigned iOS 7 on June 10, 2013, it became obvious that the iOS user experience had changed enough to merit a public re-introduction—a forward-looking discussion of the updated user interface and integrated apps. Our series on iOS 7 now looks 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; this article was published on June 11 and subsequently updated. Note that some features and graphics may change before iOS 7’s final release.
The New Lock Screen
The first thing iOS users see when turning on their displays from an inactive sleep state is the Lock Screen. In its standard view, this screen displays the time and date, as well as a wireless and battery status bar across the top. New translucent arrows at the top and bottom of the screen indicate that gestures can be used to pull up Notification Center and Control Center, although the latter is a little confusing, as it’s directly below the “slide to unlock” message. As of iOS7, you can swipe from left to right anywhere on the screen to unlock it. When music is playing, double tapping the Home Button pulls up music controls, although the included tracking and volume scrubbers interestingly can’t be controlled with touch.
A small, translucent camera icon in the lower left corner can be dragged upwards to launch the camera app, even when the iPhone is passcode-locked. When connected to power, the screen displays the outline of a battery, filled to show its charge level, and the phrase “Battery Charging.”
Both Notification Center and Control Center can be accessed from the Lock Screen, by pulling down from the top or up from the bottom, respectively. They both display the same options as when activated from anywhere else in the OS, which means that audio playback controls and camera access functionality are duplicated.
Alarms and reminders now show up as large, plain text notifications on the Lock Screen, with text below serving as a snooze button. Rather than delineated boxes, notifications now appear as floating elements, but can still be swiped independently for quick access to the respective app. A snooze countdown timer has been added next to delayed timers.
Rather than the passcode lock screen sliding up from the bottom, it now enters from the left edge, trailing your swipe. The simple passcode display takes up most of the screen, with large circles for numerals 0 through 9. Alphanumeric passcodes prompt the standard iOS 7 keyboard to appear, but otherwise take up only half the screen.
The Home Screen, Including Folders + Backgrounds
The Home Screen and its redesigned icons are among the most obvious cosmetic changes in iOS 7. Apple has kept the basic layout the same as always: a status bar at the top, indicating signal strength, your cellular carrier (if on iPhone), the time, a background service that is active, and the remaining battery life. Below that, and depending on whether you’re using a 3.5”- or 4”-screen device, you’ll see either five or six total rows of application icons, each row holding up to four apps. The bottom of the screen serves as a dock for up to four apps that remain on-screen as you swipe through multiple Home Screen pages. Instead of a slanted, mirrored tray, the dock is now a simple translucent box. When installing new apps, their icons appear with a progress bar that tracks the download; apps that are queued up display a grid before their proper icon.
As before, holding down on any individual app causes it to jiggle, showing that it can be rearranged. Apple’s core apps still can’t be deleted, but third-party apps now display an X in a translucent white circle over the top left corner, which can be tapped to remove them from the device. Rather than sliding the screen apart, tapping on a folder now causes it to zoom into focus, and display up to nine apps, plus a large folder name at the top of the screen. A folder may now have multiple pages of apps inside, and the periodical-specific app Newsstand can now be hidden in a folder.
iOS 7 supports standard wallpaper images, as well as new, dynamic backgrounds. The beta version comes with 25 flat images preinstalled, and you can use any image you provide; two similar sample dynamic backgrounds are included. Both styles of wallpaper take advantage of motion sensors in the iOS device to display a parallax effect on the Home Screen, differentially shifting the background slightly relative to the app icons. This means that when you move the device in space, the background will move with it. The two dynamic wallpapers go further, adding in moving elements that crawl along on their own, and respond with physics to the motion of the device. We can’t wait to see what developers do with this feature.
iOS 7 on iPad: Debuted in iOS 7 Beta 2 (June 24, 2013)
Now that Apple has released the second beta of its iOS 7 software, there are now versions for the iPad and iPad mini. Not surprisingly, Apple is using the same basic graphic design elements for the Lock Screen and Home Screen. The biggest difference, of course, is that both of these Screens can be used in portrait and landscape orientation.
Otherwise, the new operating system is almost entirely the same as it’s always been: blown up and expanded to fit the iPad’s larger display. Folders, passcode locks, and Notification Center fit that same mold, occupying the whole screen, while Control Center does not; it’s merely a panel on the bottom edge of the display.
One notable omission here is Picture Frame. Debuted on the full-sized iPad as a way to show off photos when the tablet was not in active use, the feature remained intact on the iPad mini. For the time being, it’s absent from iOS 7, but could return before the software is finalized later this year.