The changes to Apple's iOS software became apparent as I drove to the headquarters of the company's rival, Google. As I navigated using Apple's mapping app, I noticed one of my favorite attributes was missing: the directions for each next turn presented in green boxes that resemble highway signs.
Many of the changes in Apple's operating system for mobile devices are cosmetic. Gone are three-dimensional icons that mimic real-world counterparts, such as a magazine rack for the Newsstand app. They are replaced by larger, two-dimensional icons sporting abstract designs and pastel colors. Apple also extended that new look to many of its apps. In Maps, the green boxes are replaced with solid white across the top.
It didn't take long to realize that deeper down, the new iOS 7 software is the same as the one I've come to know.
The new software does have several functional improvements, but those could take time to stumble upon. The good news is that even if you never discover them, you can still use your device the way you did before. The free update is available starting Wednesday.
I'm covering the features specific to Apple's new iPhone 5s and 5c in a separate review. This one is about whether it makes sense to upgrade to iOS 7 on your existing iPhone or iPad.
The biggest functional change is the use of swipes instead of taps to access key functions. You can already swipe up from the bottom right side of the screen to quickly access the camera when your phone is in the lock screen. With iOS 7, you can also swipe up for the Control Center, which contains frequently used settings and apps. That's available whether or not the phone is locked.
Swipe down from the top of the screen to get recent notifications and the day's highlights, including the weather, appointments, reminders and stock quotes. Swipe down from the center of any home screen for a search box. From many apps, you can swipe from the left or the right instead of tapping the left and right buttons.
The Control Center is the most useful of the functional improvements.
From there, you can turn Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on and off. Before, you had to find those switches in the settings. That would have come in handy for my flight to Silicon Valley last week for Apple's event introducing the new phones and software. Likewise, a Do Not Disturb feature is easier to access. It lets you silence incoming calls and messages, though you can make exceptions for certain numbers or for those calling repeatedly, in case there is a true emergency. (continued...)
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Posted: 2013-11-03 @ 1:23am PT
I want to upgrade my ipad to IOS 7.what can i do?
Posted: 2013-10-09 @ 12:21pm PT
@Jemma - If you're happy with your iPad as is, I say wait before you upgrade. It seems there are quite a few kinks still to be worked out!
Posted: 2013-10-09 @ 12:16pm PT
Hi I'm wondering wether or not to update my ipad do you guys think i should??
Posted: 2013-10-02 @ 5:13am PT
After updating my I phone I find now when on a call all these icons come up like. Mute. Face time speaker. Etc. I am always muting my call or getting disconnected. How can I hide these icons?
Mike on the Left Coast:
Posted: 2013-10-01 @ 9:16pm PT
If you're using Outlook 2010 on a PC, as the iTunes mothership to an iOS device, you can expect serious problems with your Outlook calendar view on the PC. iOS 7 and iTunes 11.1 will break the Outlook calender. Here's the post I made to Apple's (non-)Forum which embarrassed them so much they removed it: "Apple: when will this be fixed?: iOS 7 has destroyed the usability and readability of a working Outlook 2010 calendar window on a meticulously-maintained Windows 7 PC. iOS 7 has now made it impossible to read Month, Week and Day views inside Outlook 2010. This is because Apple has created separate calendar checkboxes for each app inside iOS 7 - i.e., iPhone-iPad, Meetup and Starwalk. What used to be seen was ONE calendar with each of those app divisions overlain in one readable format, not the illegible, completely unusable mishmash shown in the screenshot below. A primary reason in Apple's iPhone, sold as a feature is could easily and quickly accomplish, was to sync the PC's calendar with the iPhone and iPad. Now that function has been destroyed and rendered useless.
Posted: 2013-09-30 @ 2:07pm PT
@Mark P: Sounds like a hassle. Haven't heard of this one before. Better check with Apple tech support. Good luck! Let us know if you find a fix.
Posted: 2013-09-30 @ 12:14pm PT
I've upgraded to ios7, the iPad facebook app doesn't work anymore, all I get is a blue screen continuously loading, help...I've deleted and reinstalled the app to no avail...
Posted: 2013-09-28 @ 12:26am PT
I love the new look of iOS7. Love the new Control Center, just swipe up and you have access to everything, Wifi, Bluetooth, clock, calculator, flashlight, brightness, volume, etc. Love the new fonts, they look much fresher and updated. Love the new calendar, they still have the dots which doesn't say much, but put it in landscape mode and it gives you a break down of all the week's events in one glance, nice!
Safari works faster and better. Before, when participating on message boards I would sign in with Disqus and it would go from the sign in page and get stuck. With iOS7, after I sign in with Disqus, it will immediately close that window and get back to the previous page where I left off.
I cannot imagine going back to iOS6. iOS7 has been just as good an update as I envisioned it. I also love the way you close out apps, just double click the home button and swipe up for any apps you don't want running in the background.
Posted: 2013-09-23 @ 11:54am PT
you can swipe delete emails.. swipe left instead of right.
Posted: 2013-09-23 @ 8:23am PT
So sorry I updated!!! Very hard to read the small thin lettering in apps and on icons!!! All the white is annoying. Deleting emails without the swipe delete is cumbersome.
Posted: 2013-09-23 @ 7:28am PT
You don't get it for free. You get it by giving up something else, even tho you might not want to give it up. No choice - just follow what someone else tells you that you want.
Posted: 2013-09-23 @ 2:28am PT
I lost all my previous details on my iPad after upgrading my ipad with ios 7. By reinitializing, can I retrive it? Done through the pc.
Posted: 2013-09-22 @ 10:17pm PT
I tell ya, if they did this to my Mac, I would be soooo upset! The white backgrounds and the word, lack of luster. Have owning Mac since the very first laptop, it's always felt like velvet to me. This feels too much like windows. Flat and white and the white backgrounds and the lack of options, I can hardly see the options on any of the screens. Let's hope they update with improvements on this.
Posted: 2013-09-22 @ 8:19pm PT
I found all this info very helpful and spoken in plain english that those of us who are not techno savvy could understand. Thanks
Posted: 2013-09-22 @ 4:50pm PT
The really useful was the map, ios7 no longer has the voice navigation. Although it is nice having voice navigation for walking but why drop the voice navigation for use in driving?
Posted: 2013-09-22 @ 3:24pm PT
I hated it at first but it grows on you and now I think it is so much better. I have only upgraded my ipad mini and am yet to do my phone as it is an iphone 4. I am going to upgrade that tonight and hope it doesnt slow it down and I end up back on here complaining with the rest of you.
Posted: 2013-09-22 @ 1:25pm PT
I am very unhappy with the update. The music is much more complicated and the entire LOOK of the new icons and interface is like a PC - a total dumbing down - who's doing this? I am so sorry I didn't think twice before doing this.
Posted: 2013-09-22 @ 8:00am PT
If it ain't broke don't fix it! DO NOT NOT like the new operating system. By the sounds of the "NO, NO, NO" coming from my son upstairs he doesn't like it either. Messages have been deleted, lagging, safari start up page, blah. Finally got everything the way I wanted and now I will have to start over. I'm too old for this BS.
Posted: 2013-09-22 @ 5:53am PT
Initially, I had some slight lagging issues on my iPhone 4 after installing iOS 7 on the first day. But these receded after all the background software updates completed (and this took several hours because Apple's servers were slammed). iOS does tax the iPhone 4 somewhat, but any slowdown is barely noticeable and I feel it is worth the upgrade. In my view, the old hardware performed much better than I expected.
That said, I did this upgrade even while planning to purchase an iPhone 5S, which I already have done.
As for iOS 7's "light and airy" aesthetics and design issues, overall, I feel the use of color is too "girly". Also, I hate some of the nonsensical App icons and the limited background color options — the background Wallpapers are too vivid and distracting, and there simply aren't Wallpaper options for conservative business users. It is a big mistake for the Wallpaper software to eliminate the one or two Wallpapers ported over from iOS 6 (these inexplicably disappear forever if you try out a new Wallpaper. This also happened with iOS 6). The low-contrast typography/background issues can be addressed in Settings>General>Accessibility, where contrast can be enhanced, Bold type selected, and Dynamic Type used to enlarge Fonts. (Once Fonts are enlarged with Dynamic Type, I do wish it could be turned off for select Apps, but not others).
Posted: 2013-09-22 @ 3:53am PT
Hello guys... well am confused! Should I update my iphone to ios 7? and if i dont' like it, can I go back to my ios 6.1.4?
Posted: 2013-09-21 @ 11:47pm PT
I don't usually post on comments, but felt I must. There have been a number of my Facebook friends that really don't like it either. I agree strongly with Jeff and have had the same lag problems as a couple others have mentioned in the comments here. The colors are irritating and have had the screen freeze after trying to get out of a folder and go to another. I also miss the feature to search the whole iPad. If I could I would go back to the iOS6.
Posted: 2013-09-21 @ 10:19pm PT
@unknown: Yeah, you might as well. There are a lot of cool new features and basically it always makes sense to be up-to-date with the latest and greatest.
Posted: 2013-09-21 @ 10:17pm PT
should i update? i cant make up my mind
Posted: 2013-09-21 @ 7:23pm PT
Similar problem as Annette. The keyboard lag time to strokes is a problem. Very difficult to send text messages.
Posted: 2013-09-21 @ 7:07pm PT
It tells me that I need to connect to wi-fi network, i turn on my wifi and still not downloading..at all! Help!!
Posted: 2013-09-21 @ 6:22pm PT
I too don't like the white and gray backgrounds, it hurts the eyes.
Posted: 2013-09-21 @ 4:38pm PT
I agree with you Jeff about the grey/beige band and background. It just looks muddy and boring and lacks crispness.
But worse than this is the fact that I seem to have lost all my documents that had been saved in my Pages app. This is disastrous!
Posted: 2013-09-21 @ 4:24pm PT
Downloaded on Friday night and have HUGE "lagging" issues! Texting and Emailing is a nightmare! Type in the text and wait 20 seconds to actually see it! Seems to be something wrong with keyboard. I'm not sure what I can do?
Posted: 2013-09-21 @ 12:45pm PT
I suppose tastes will differ but I found the new look simply horrible.
Far from just being a matter of esthetics, the replacement of fully colored icons with mostly white and splashes of color make apps harder to distinguish.
Notes, for example, are very hard to distinguish from Reminders. The camera icon is downright dull compared to the ios 6 version.
That same problem continues inside apps, too. Email simply is harder to read because of the new theme. And the menu options on Safari and others stand out less because of the new style.
The Home screen is dreadful now that the menu tray at the bottom has this big band of gray. The folders that encompass multiple apps look unfinished and dull (until you enlarge them fullscreen, when they are not quite as bad).
Don't care for it at all on the iPad. My wife plans to leave her iPhone 5 at ios 6 for as long as possible now.
I can't see any advantage to the new OS. Even the new swipe methods are not that much easier than the old tap ones.