Apple rolled out iOS 7 yesterday, and with it, a number of changes to its mobile operating system. Most notably, iOS 7 looks vastly different from iOS 6, adopting flat colors and skinny text as its visual backbone. The operating system still works like it always has, but this time around there are a number of new, useful hidden features.
Perhaps the most mind-blowing feature in iOS 7 is that text messages now have individual timestamps. Simply load a text conversation, then swipe from right to left, and you’ll invoke timestamps for every chat bubble in the thread. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be an option to permanently display them, but finally having them is a great step forward.
In the past, if you gave out your number to someone at bar just to shut them up and get back to talking to your friends, you would’ve had to endure their text messages. You could ignore them, sure, but your phone would still alert you to their arrival. Now, you can block contacts from calls, texts, and FaceTime. Simply go to Settings, then either Phone, Messages, or FaceTime. From there, go to Blocked, and you can add contacts to the blocked list for any of the message apps.
In previous versions of iOS, the folders had a hard cap on the number of apps they could contain. While having capped folders is much better than not having folders, it definitely wasn’t enough for some of us. Now, folders can hold an infinite number of apps. Unfortunately, there’s a trade-off. Previously, the capped folders allowed a four-by-four grid of apps. This time around, the uncapped folders only allow a three-by-three grid per folder page. So, you can have less folders cluttering your Home screen, but you’ll have to swipe around more often.
The iOS platform has a plethora of competent flashlight apps that utilize the phone’s camera flash. Now, iOS 7 as a flashlight built in. Simply invoke the Control Center app by swiping up from the bottom of the iPhone’s screen, and the little flashlight icon sits in the lower left corner. It doesn’t have as many options as your standard fare app found on the App Store, but it’s fully functional, and finally built in.
Safari collects missed Twitter links
Buried deep within iOS 7′s native browser, Safari, is a list of tweets from your Twitter feed you might’ve missed that contain links. Load up Safari, click on the bookmarks icon, then click on the @ symbol tab. It’s certainly strange that a cool feature like that is shunned away two-tabs-deep in a single app, but it’s nice that it exists.
Level built into compass
The compass app in iOS 7 now has a built-in level. Simply load the compass, then swipe a screen over. The level is a minimalist, black-and-white affair, but like with the built-in flashlight, you’ll no longer have to grab a level from the App Store.
Instead of loading the App Store, navigating to the Updates tab, then hitting Update All, you can now have your apps update automatically. Go into Settings, then iTunes & App Store. Scroll down a bit to the Automatic Downloads section, then enable or disable automatic downloads for whichever app you prefer. We’d suggest shutting it off every option other than automatic updates, just so you conserve your device’s battery.
In previous versions of iOS, you’d swipe all the way to the left screen in order to pull up Spotlight. Now, you can simply perform a downward swipe motion anywhere on the screen to invoke Spotlight.
Now, you can swipe to go back to a previous screen from within in app, like a back button in a web browser. Start the left edge of your screen, then swipe from left to right, and there you go. Unfortunately, some apps use that gesture to do other things, and there does appear to be conflicts with the go back gesture.
The iOS 7 multitasking pane is now much different. Rather than a little linear bar filled with apps on the bottom of the screen, you’re brought to a standalone menu that not only displays the app icons, but their associated window. To close an app, swipe the window up toward the top of the screen; but that’s not the trick. When scrolling through your apps, you’ll notice that the icons scroll at a different speed than the windows. In order to scroll though your apps as fast as possible, use the line of app icons to scroll rather than the windows.
Apple’s new mobile operating system has a plethora of new features, but the majority of them are front and center. So, while the above list doesn’t encompass everything that’s new about iOS 7, it does feature options and services that aren’t readily apparent