iOS 7 Review: Apple's Big Change Means A Worthwhile Upgrade For You

Apple's new operating system offers aesthetic changes with useful new features.

ByJoanna Stern
September 18, 2013, 9:26 AM

Sept. 18, 2013 — -- Ever since the iPhone was introduced in 2007, the phone has looked pretty much the same.

Okay, the hardware has gotten sleeker, the phone has gotten faster, the screen has gotten slightly taller and the camera improvements are impressive. But the part of the phone you interact with every single day -- the touchscreen and the software on it -- has remained relatively unchanged. Parts like the yellow-hued Notes app, the gray and blue colored Calendar or the rounded icons all look as they did on that day in June 2007 when people first lined up for the iPhone.

That changes today with the launch of iOS 7, Apple's latest software for its iPad and iPhone. Apple's chief of design Jony Ive has said "while iOS 7 is completely new" it is "instantly familiar." It is a serious change, but is it one you should make today?

Everything In Its Right Place, Sort Of

You can think of iOS 7 like an episode of "Trading Spaces." Apple hasn't changed the actual house layout, it hasn't really torn down any staircases or built out a back porch, but it has replaced all the furniture, repainted the walls and redone the floors.

Icons are new (though not always better), menus are translucent and with new shades of light blues and purples, the keyboard is cleaner and everything is generally tidier. The overall design does take some getting used to, especially the zooms and swooshes that appear when you transition between screens. There is also a Parallax effect, meaning when you move the phone, parts of the software move. It's a fun trick, but that's about it.

iOS 7 like an episode of "Trading Spaces."

But despite those appearance changes, which I quickly adapted to, most things are still in the same place. Your apps are on the home screen, your apps go into folders on that home screen and you can swipe from the top of the screen down to see your notifications. Some things have been relocated. For instance, you can't swipe to the left anymore to get to Search, instead you swipe down from the middle of the home screen to get to the search field. It's been the most jarring change for me and not exactly a welcoming one; at times I mistakenly swipe down and get the notification tray.

Yet, after a week of using the software, the general novelty and the newness wears off and it begins to feel like home.

Much Needed Feature Additions

But it is the new features that really make it feel like a more functional home.

The main addition and my favorite one is Control Center. Finally addressing all the times you've had to go digging through the settings menu to turn on Wi-Fi or lower the brightness, you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen, no matter what app you are in, and get easy access to specific settings. There are shortcuts to the Wi-Fi, volume, brightness, Bluetooth, toggles and even a built-in flashlight and the calculator.

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