Amidst calming classical music and a contemplative voice over, Apple has introduced the newest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 7.
Alongside the new OS, which Apple is calling the “most significant update since the original iPhone”, is the release of Apple’s attempt to take on the music streaming business, iTunes Radio.
As the cringe-inducing, typically Apple iOS 7 intro video suggests, simplicity seems to have been a huge focus this time around. It introduces new icon designs, refined typography and various new features including Control Center, which allows access to things like WiFi, Bluetooth, airplane mode, simple music controls and instant access apps such as clock and camera, by swiping up from the bottom of the screen; much like the Android notification bar.
Other new features include the notification centre available from the lock screen, and a ‘Today’ feature, which Apple sas provides a summary of important details for the day at a glance, such as meetings, traffic and weather. I’m sure it could be useful, but I’m also not sure how you could get any more boring.
Also debuted was AirDrop, a peering mechanism that showed contacts close by available to share encrypted files.
The Camera will come with the now standard in other phones set of filters, with a square camera option and easy flicking between different cameras (video, panorama etc).
Siri got an overhaul with new male and female voices, Apple said, as well as Twitter search integration; so stalking people on the social network is that much easier – just ask Siri to do it for you. A fairly neat feature is Siri’s new Wikipedia integration, although I do feel there should be a warning about the self-edit options of the site.
Boom, shake tha room
Apple has also launched iTunes Radio with iOS 7, a free radio service via the internet with more than 200 stations and links to the iTunes Store.
The feature works intelligently, Apple said, in that the more you listen to it, the more it will learn your music tastes and personalise the experience.
Slightly more worrying is the ability to buy with ‘just one tap’. Dangerous.
The new mobile OS would be available for iPhone 4 and up, iPad 2 and up, iPad mini and touch (fifth gen) this autumn, Apple said.
So is it really different?
Ovum chief telecoms analyst Jan Dawsom said iOS 7 represented a “massive overhaul” of the look and feel of Apple’s mobile operating system.
“The new version is almost unrecognizable, which will make it polarizing. Some people will love that their phone feels new and different, while others will be disoriented by the newness.”
While finding familiar apps could be hard, since icons had changed, the redesign was an acknowledgement from Apple that it needed to refresh its user interface, and was willing to do something dramatic.
However the new features Apple had added to the OS were fixes rather than anything particularly new, he said.
“Notifications, Siri, and Multitasking enhancements and the introduction of Control Center all deal with deficiencies rather than providing surprising new features no-one would have thought of.”