iOS 7 Hits Chicago

The moment that all of us Apple fans have been waiting for…has arrived.

iOS 7, Apple’s latest operating system for mobile devices, has, as I type this, already been deployed across most of North America. Chicago got ours at right at about noon today, which took nearly a half hour to download and install (well worth it).

While the changes are mostly aesthetic, new features such as Airdrop, which allows sharing via WiFi & Bluetooth, and an improved “task manager” of sorts do provide some additional functionality. Personally, I just think it looks cool. And there’s nothing wrong with a little eye candy….

Apple has included much in the way of transparency with this new iOS, and no, I’m not talking about providing more info about how your data is shared. I mean, literally– the thing is more transparent. That will be evident the moment you go to unlock your iPhone following installation, as shown in the photo below.

The popular “slider” has been replaced, but the functionality remains the same. Included in this release is the ability to access the Notification Center even when the phone is locked, which can be disabled in the Settings menu if you choose.

Speaking of the Notification Center, this has been updated as well, to give the user a more detailed look at their day and the day to come. This can be accessed in the same manner as in iOS 6, with a simple swipe-down from any app.

Oh, and did I mention– no more bars. Seriously. You will have no bars in every area, since they’ve been replaced with little dots. So much for that marketing strategy…

Two of the coolest new additions to the iOS 7 platform are the updated “task manager” functionality, and the all-new “Control Center”. The former is basically an overhaul of functionality that has existed on iOS for some time; an opportunity to view, switch, and close open apps all from one place. In this go-around, however, Apple has provided the opportunity to preview open apps to where you last left off. Accessing the task manager is the same as before (double-clicking the “Home” button), but to close an open app, now you can just flick the window off the top of the screen, instead of finding the little X in the corner (which, can be difficult to those of us with chubby fingers…).

The biggest functionality change comes in the form of the all new Control Center, which can be called up by dragging up from the bottom, in the exact opposite manner as the Notification Center. The Control Center allows the user to turn Airplane Mode, WiFi, Bluetooth, and DND modes on/off from one location. It also provides the ability to lighten/darken and lock the screen, view running timers, and contains basic Music controls. In addition, the flashlight (aka your camera’s flash), timer, calculator, and camera can be accessed from this menu, as well as Airdrop settings.

The camera itself has been updated to include Instragram-ish filters. I also noticed a new FaceTime app, which seems a little unnecessary to me, but hey, just my opinion. Overall I like the look and feel of the new iOS, but with the initial release, there’s more pizzazz than actual substance. I’m hoping that future updates will bring some new functionality; for now, guess we’ll just have to settle for a different look on the same ol’.

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