12 Most Exciting Features of iOS 7

12 Most Exciting Features of iOS 7

Every year Apple holds their World Wide Developer Conference, or WWDC, in San Francisco. The conference has about 6,000 attendees and this year it sold out in just 71 seconds. Since the original iPhone, Apple has used WWDC as a platform to announce new software and hardware updates. This year, Apple announced iOS 7, the latest version of iOS for the iPhone and iPad.

I was fortunate enough to be one of those 6,000 attendees, and have been playing with iOS 7 on my iPhone 4S all afternoon. With that in mind, I decided to put together what I believe are the twelve most important (and exciting) features of iOS 7.

1. Completely new design

Sure, there are new features. But iOS looks completely different as well. This release of iOS is the biggest change in iOS history — installing it will make you feel like you’ve received a new phone, not just an upgraded phone. Thin fonts, brighter colors, and no more “skeuomorphism.”


2. Better multitasking (and app switching)

Now when you switch apps you see a live preview of what that app looks like (not just an icon). Also, Apple is introducing new technologies that allow developers to do things in the background. So if you’re downloading a large file from Dropbox or compressing a movie from a video app, these apps can now continue their function after the app is closed.

3. iRadio

I’m a big Pandora user. This afternoon, instead of using Pandora, I used Apple’s new iRadio service on iOS 7. I’m not going to say iRadio is better than Pandora, but really, they’re pretty much the same thing. iRadio gave me everything I wanted out of a streaming music service and I really had no complaints. The advantage iRadio has over other services like Pandora is how well it’s integrated into iOS. For example, when using iRadio I can “like” a song and fine tune my radio station without unlocking my device. I can’t do that with other apps.

4. Control center

Control center is a new feature in iOS that gives you direct access (by swiping up from the bottom of the screen) to things like Airplane mode, Wi-Fi toggle, Bluetooth toggle, and even a flashlight. I’m sure everyone will use this. It really is one of those, “it’s about time” features.

5. Improved notification center

iOS 6 has a notification center, but in iOS 7 Apple added some new functionality. Now, the notification center has a new section called “Today.” I think this is Apple’s subtle step towards something like Google Now. It’s nowhere near as powerful, but it looks at all of your services like email, calendars, and reminders, and it creates a daily summary of everything you need to know at a glance.

6. AirDrop

Now you can send files and pictures between two phones that are nearby. There’s not much more to say about this, except I’m really happy I don’t have to email photos to people after I take them. Now I can just send it straight to their phone — and everyone else in the room if they want it as well.

7. Real time filters in Camera

This is exactly what it sounds like. The default camera app on iOS has been improved to include photo filters just like the Photo Booth app on your Mac. And just like Photo Booth, those filters are displayed on screen in real time — not after you take a picture like other photo sharing apps.

8. Automatic app updates!

As a developer, and hater of app notification badges, this feature is my favorite. Now, you don’t have to update your apps manually. If an app is updated, your phone or iPad will automatically download and install the update. This makes me very happy.

9. Better security

It’s horrible to lose your phone. It’s even worse to lose your phone and realize whomever took it turned off “Find my iPhone” or erased it as soon as they got it preventing you from ever retrieving it again. Now, with iOS 7, if someone tries to erase a phone — or turn off “Find my iPhone,” they will first have to sign in with the Apple ID associated with that phone. So if someone steals your phone, they won’t be able to erase it, or turn off it’s GPS tracking.

10. Siri and “iOS in the car”

Siri just got a little bit smarter and Apple is deepening ties with car manufacturers. We don’t know a lot about how these are going to be implemented or what exactly is new — I think Siri is still the “old Siri” in the Beta version I have installed on my iPhone 4S — but expect to see new technology in the coming year.

11. Improved Safari

I actually have been using Chrome on my iPhone and iPad for a while, and I must say, the improvements made to Safari may have finally caught back up to Chrome. One feature I’m particularly interested in is the gesture to navigate back to a previous page. Simply swipe from left to right, starting just off screen. Very slick.

12. Better developer tools and technologies

This one is a bit tricky, because I doubt anyone reading this is a developer. Also, I have to be careful about what I say in this one because, technically, anything said at the conference that wasn’t in the keynote is considered confidential and is under NDA. So let me just say this: imagine how different the new iOS looks. Now imagine a world where Apple puts a lot of those same technologies into the hands of third-party developers. That would really be cool, wouldn’t it? And worthy of the final point in a 12 Most post. Developers would be able to create apps that looked and behaved a lot like what Apple apps did in the keynote.

Wouldn’t that be interesting…!

Which iOS 7 feature are you most excited about trying? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

Featured image courtesy of darkling<3 licensed via Creative Commons.

Shawn Welch


My name is Shawn Welch. I am the co-author of the Wall Street Journal bestselling book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book. I am an author, speaker, and iOS designer/developer. In the past I worked for about eight years in various product management roles, including four years as a Senior Media Editor for one of the largest publishing companies in the world, where I focused mostly on emerging ebook technology. In 2011, I walked away from corporate life to write my second book and dedicate more time to personal projects. I have a few personal apps are in the app store, but I also work with the National Association of Photoshop Professional (NAPP) and Kelby Media Group as their Chief iOS Designer and Developer. Through NAPP I’ve built a few great apps and continue to innovate. I have written two books for a traditional publisher, Peachpit Press—all 5 star rated of course. Recently, however, in partnership with my co-author Guy Kawasaki I have refocused my talents to train indie authors in becoming “artisanal publishers.”

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Martin D Redmond
Martin D Redmond

Thanks for this!  I'm a long time Apple user, and have been looking forward some significant improvements.  I feel like Android has pulled ahead (not that IOS7 is the answer), but it seems like steps have been made in the right direction


I don't know, I'm still trying to learn how to pronounce "skeuomorphism" :-). In all honesty though, thank you for this. I'm relatively new to iPhone ownership (7 months) and have a 4. I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what IT can do. But if I had to pick something I'm excited about, maybe it's the airdrop/picturing sharing w/o emailing. I should probably be MORE excited about the security stuff (i.e., not disabling "find my phone"). Thanks for the education!