Apple has today announced its latest and largest overhaul to the iOS system at the WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference). The new operating system for its handheld devices features everything from a whole new user interface and color scheme, all the way down to activation lock. To cover all of it as effectively as possible, we'll cover the most important aspect in list form. So starting at number one:
1: User Interface and Redesign
The whole user interface has received a makeover from Apple, who have decided to go for more white and blue in its color scheme, along with a complete redesign of the icons, as well as improved typography across the whole system. While some of the icons have well defined colors, with a lack of gradients or intricate shadows. One commenter suggested that iOS has taking some element of the Windows Phone's UI into their own design, but we will let you be the judge of that. While the colors are simplistic, the OS still delivery incredible immersion into the software, such as the icons moving in accordance to how you tilt the device, and edge to edge screen usage.
The style for the Game Center has also been radically reassessed, with the new color scheme being more pleasing than the previous overwhelming green, and the changed weather app did nothing short of impress with its fully animated and vibrant backgrounds. Skeuomorphism is gone.
The lock screen didn't miss out, as it is suddenly clutter free and nothing short of elegant. Apple Maps has had a massive overhaul (it was to be expected), and all in all it looks rather good compared to the previous version. While Apple was showing of the 3D satellite model of the Eiffel Tower, we noticed that the maps still had some work to be done, in comparison to Google's latest satellite images and automatic building rendering.
2: Control Center
New to iOS is the control center: a handy menu like control surface (above picture, right hand side) that allows the user to access important options and control at any time. With a smooth swipe up, the menu appears and allows for changing of the brightness, media controls, airplay access, Air Drop (see below), airplane mode, WiFi toggle, Bluetooth toggle, rotation lock and silent mode. Along the bottom are quick access buttons to important functions: the calculator, clock, the camera and a toggle switch for the LED flash. Apple users have been waiting for a quick access menu like this, and now it even has transparency layering to allow the vibrant colors of the background to shine through.
Multitasking is now available to all apps, with no significant impact on the battery life (we shall see). However, Apple didn't stop there, as it has taught the multitasking how to think. The software can now prioritize which apps get the prime seat, all dependent on your usage and specific times of the day (like checking your email each morning at 7), and even has a learning curve to adapt to your optimum rhythm.
It get better, as the software can also look at you cellular data speed and coverage, and throttle automatic data fetching accordingly (like only fetching emails on GPRS and going all out with a strong LTE signal). The OS gives apps priority when they receive push information so that they can get their data downloaded, as a push alert will likely have you opening the app soon after. The interface now allows you to swipe left to right to access all your multitasking apps (below picture, middle left), and we hope that there is a close all button this time.
Safari received a healthy dose of tweaks, such as a smart search field at the top, one tap favorite and tabs access, parental controls, and integration with Apple Keychain (announced with the new Mac). The navigation has become more initiative, while the page rendering is allowing full width content and much improved image compiling. The 8 tabs limit has been removed, so now you can swipe through all the open tabs like a filing cabinet (above picture, furthest right) while keeping them all synced across your i-Devices and being able to interact with them (this feature will be familiar for those using Chrome and it's sync function).
5: Air drop
Air Drop is a new feature introduced on the OS, originally from Mac OS X, which consists of peer to peer WiFi sharing to surrounding iOS devices, being accessible to all apps and all forms of data. You can simply select one or more people you want to share something with, which can be almost anything, from picture all the way to keynotes, as long as it's supported in the app. While the idea sounds great, we are still anxious to see what security and authentication methods will be in place to provide this service with data protection in mind.
6: Photos App
Upgrades to the Photo App now allows for automatic sorting of your pictures based on dates and locations. The mess that most people have on their camera roll will now sort into clear and discrete categories in a very natural way. Along with this, you can now share your photos and videos through iCloud through the share function, allowing you to create a photo album which other users can admire and comment on.
Siri has now become even more fun, with an improved, less robotic voice, and much smarter responses to a variety of questions. She can now also access your device's function, allowing her to toggle Bluetooth, check your last voicemail or even change the brightness. The integration doesn't stop there, with Twitter and Wikipedia full utilized by the program, along with in-app web searches powered by Bing (interesting choice). You can now not only change the gender of your voice, but 3 languages are currently available, being English, German and French. We expect to see multiple other options added in the future, and we have our fingers crossed for a Darth Vader voice on the horizon.
8: iOS in the Car
Siri now has your car keys, and Apple showed us a list of car manufactures who already have support for connecting your iOS device to your car. Along with this technological marriage comes integrated iMessage, voice directions and internet search while driving (through Siri's functionality). This preliminary list comprises of Honda, BMW, Nissan, Ferrari, Chevorlet, Infiniti, Kia, Hyundai, Volvo, Acura, Opel and Jaguar.
The Appstore has finally gotten rid of that annoying notification number on the Icon. The software now inconspicuously installs the updates in the background, but we are hoping that some customization will be available. Apart from that, Apps can now be categorized by age groups (big plus for parents of toddlers) and can also be filtered by location, allowing you to find apps directly related to your vicinity.
The music app now has brilliant album artist, and has acquired the ability to access your purchases, both music and videos, from iCloud. While we are not certain whether this is for downloading or actual streaming, we know that the music experience has much improved.
11: iTunes Radio
iTunes Radio is a new feature that allows you to discover the world of music through your iPhones. The App creates "stations" based on pre-set collections, artists, and individual songs, which then match similar music together and offer them to you. The service streams music through the internet, and allows you to still buy the individual songs yourself. The service is currently very similar to the music streaming service Spotify, meaning there could be a potential lawsuit in the coming months. In the mean time, iTunes radio is free with ads, for comes ad free for iTunes match subscribers, starting in the U.S. with more countries to be added in the next year.
12: Activation Lock
Find my iPhone on iCloud have proven itself time and time again, allowing people to recover stolen or misplaces phones for many years now. Apple have now added another feature called Activation Lock , which allows you to lock your iPhone irreversibly. The iPhone goes into a lock down state which cannot be undone apart from unlocking it with the original Apple ID. Apple claim that even reinstalling the OS or wiping the phone cannot undo this security feature, but we will have to see if jailbreaking can get around this security feature.
13: Other Features
Similar to Apple running out of time to cover all the new features, we are running out of words to intricately cover all the aspects of this mobile operating system. We can tell you that further features include: Enterprise Single Sign-On, View PDF annotations, Inclinometer, Long MMS Support, Per App VPN, Maps Bookmarks syncing, chine-English bilingual dictionary, Phone/Facetime/Message Blocking, Handwriting recognition for Chinese characters, improved mail search, smart downloading of TV episodes, Facetime Audio, Extended international dictionaries, turn by turn walking directions, new smart mailboxes, notification sync, managed app configurations, night mode for maps, WiFi HotSpot 2.0, Tencent Weibo, App Store Volume Purchases, Do Not Track option in Safari and Streamlined MDM (Mobile Device Management).
After covering the whole OS inside out, we just want to add that iOS 7 will be released this fall, and is already available to App Developers for Beta testing on the iPhone. The upgrade will only be compatible the iPhone 4 and later, the iPad 2 and later, the iPad mini and the iPod Touch 5th Generation. No word yet on whether Apple plans to charge for this update (as they have once in the past for iPod users), but we are optimistic enough to say it probably won't.