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Apple unveils iOS 7, brings changes to user interface, Safari [U]

updated 03:50 pm EDT, Mon June 10, 2013

Apple Radio, activation lock, Siri car integration key features of update

[Updated with tweet from Sen. John McCain] In parallel with the hardware announcements at Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference, Apple announced the availability of an iOS 7 beta for the iPhone. Calling it "the biggest change to the iOS since the introduction of the iPhone," the new version of the operating system adds nearly 100 new features according to Apple.

Key features added to the new version of the OS include multitasking for all apps with the operating system keeping track of which apps need to be updated based on use, background updating of apps, enhanced push notification, and easier overview of running apps. The Mobile Safari browser has seen significant renovation. The new version includes tabbed full-screen browsing, an iCloud chain, and most of the innovations with OS X "Mavericks." The latest iOS devices will be able to use a feature called "AirDrop," rapidly allowing for file transfer between devices, similar to "Bump" on Android and Samsung handsets.

Also notable is Activation Lock -- if a phone is stolen, and the user chooses to disable the handset remotely using the "find my iPhone" set of features, the device can't be reactivated or used in any way without the entry of both the iCloud user name as well as the password for the device.

The keynote speech to the conference demonstrated greatly improved Siri integration with car in-dash systems. Additionally, the long-rumored iTunes Radio streaming service is integrated into the OS, with future addition to iTunes and OS X.

Other features teased but not discussed at any length include FaceTime Audio, Enterprise single sign on, view of PDF annotations, an inclinometer, long MMS support, Per-App VPN selection, Maps bookmark syncing, a Chinese-English bilingual dictionary, communications blocking, handwriting recognition for multiple Chinese characters, smart download of TV episodes, improved Mail search, a "do not track" option in Safari, night mode for Maps, new smart mailboxes, turn-by-turn walking directions, and FaceTime audio.

A beta for the new iOS will be made available today for the iPhone. An iPad version will be available in the next few weeks. Release of the operating system is expected in the fall. The new OS is compatible with the iPhone 4 and up, iPad Mini, and iPad 2 and up.

Update: Senator John McCain took to Twitter later on Monday to thank Apple for adding automatic background app updates to the forthcoming iOS 7. McCain, in a lighter moment during Apple CEO Tim Cook's testimony on Capitol Hill about Apple's tax avoidance strategies, had mentioned that he loved his iPhone and that "his granddaughter even knew how to use it," but complained humorously "why the hell do I have to keep updating apps on my iPhone all the time and why you don't fix that?"

Cook chuckled and replied that the upgrade effort was part of Apple's intent to constantly improve the product. Apple at the time already had introduced background updates to certain MacBook models (through a feature called Power Nap), and now has plans to bring the feature to iOS devices with the release of iOS 7 in the fall.

by MacNN Staff





  1. pairof9s

    Senior User

    Joined: 01-03-08

    Have to admit I was wrong...that is a helluva upgrade for iOS. I'm thoroughly impressed! Of course, never know for sure until you have it in your hands to play with but look forward to the Fall.

  1. redcapzero

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-08-07


  1. danangdoc

    Junior Member

    Joined: 01-18-07

    One thing not fixed was the app update. As most users know, you often need to avoid an update, based on App Store user comments. Apple should have given us the option to delete a particular update so we don't corrupt the current app. Now they will update automatically in iOS7, without regard to whether the update corrupts the current app or not. This is not cool.

  1. jwdsail

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-05-00

    Am I the only one concerned about all the low-contrast user controls? Looks like a much less usable UI to me. Tiny, small font, low contrast white on gray UI controls .. Really hope this was just something that didn't translate well via video, and is better in person..

  1. Jeronimo2000

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-20-01

    @danangdoc: You can turn off automatic updates, though not on a per-app basis, which would be much nicer... but also more complex.

    @jwdsail: I'm with you. I do like the updated visuals, they're partly a bit too much "kiddies birthday party" colors to me (homescreen icons) and then again the slightly too neutral black&whiteness of other parts of the UI... doesn't always work that well, I think.

    But hey, it's a beta, so we'll see. It's an amazing feat nonetheless.

  1. pairof9s

    Senior User

    Joined: 01-03-08

    Agree w/ you, jwdsail, too. But this has been a lament of mine for quite some time w/ iOS. It would be nice if the Accessibility settings could adjust at least type size on the Home screens, like it does w/ adjusting Mail, Messages, Calendar and Contacts.

    Still overall, I like the change, if only for change's sake.

  1. panjandrum

    Junior Member

    Joined: 12-01-04

    Hmmm. The look is appealing, but may not be user-friendly. This is a common (quite justified) complaint about Lion and ML also; the reduced differentiation between elements, and the obscuring of other elements, makes for an OS that might LOOK good, but which is actually a step backwards in terms of usability (sometimes a big step). I'll reserve judgement, but unless there is something I'm missing here, the screenshots suggest reduced usability, especially in situations where you can't focus completely on the device (car, etc.)

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