A Beginners Guide to iOS7

iOS 7

Did you update your iPhone, only to find that it suddenly looks very unfamiliar? Don’t recognize your stock apps? Having trouble finding things? If so, I’m here to help. This brief guide covers most of the basic things that have changed or moved, and also points out a couple of the less intuitive new features.

 

What Just Happened to my iPhone?

For those of you who have either followed the news about iOS 7 since it was announced at WWDC, or have been running the beta, this will be old news. But for those who haven’t, and have found this article while searching for help in understanding this substantially different new update, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s jump right in and look at some of the things that have changed or moved.

 

1. Where is Spotlight Search?

spotlight-iphone-4.0This is one of the major changes from previous versions of iOS to iOS 7. While ignored by some (including myself) Spotlight Search became an important tool for many. As users amassed more and more apps, Apple’s somewhat limited folder structure became taxed, and older, lesser used apps often became more difficult to find. Spotlight Search became the answer to this problem for many users.

Spotlight used to be accessed by swiping right from the first Home screen, or by pressing the Home button one when on the first Home screen, or twice from any other Home screen.

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Spotlight is actually even easier to use in iOS 7, once you know how to get to it. Just swipe down from anywhere but the very top of any screen, and the Search box appears at the top of the screen.

 spotlight-search-results

Easy as pie. This is a nice improvement, but not very obvious for new users.

 

2. Some apps in my folders have disappeared.

Apple expanded the size of folders in iOS 6, along with the screen of the iPhone 5, but that only went so far for users like me, who have hundreds of apps installed. Still, no matter how many apps you have, you get used to how they look on the screen.

In iOS 7, Apple has blown the doors wide open and allowed us to put as many apps as we want in folders. However, they went back to 9 apps per screen in the process, meaning that many users will have their apps shuffled around after they upgrade.

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Notice the dots at the bottom of the folder. This indicates multiple pages of apps. If you had more than 9 apps in a given folder, just swipe to the left, and you will see an additional screen with the remaining apps in the folder.

It’s about time we got this feature. I know I’ve personally gotten down to just 4 home screens, where I had 7 before. I had multiple photography, camera, and navigation folders, so being able to consolidate them all has made things MUCH more tidy.

 

3. What happened to my notifications?

Notification Center works exactly the same as before. Just swipe down from the bottom of any screen, and there it is. Thankfully, the linen drawer lining has been replaced with a blur effect that I personally find more pleasing.

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One thing you may notice, however, is that Notification Center has been expanded, and now includes a Today View. I really like new feature, especially since the content is configurable. I’m also glad that Apple got rid of their old way of handling Lock Screen notifications by just adding access to Notification Center there. It’s much smarter to use the same interface everywhere.

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Just remember that your Notifications are still here. Just tap the All or Missed buttons at the top of the screen to get back to them. Notification Center will remember the tab you were on last when you pull it down the next time.

 

4. What is this thing at the bottom of my screen, and why does it keep getting in the way of my apps?

The addition of Control Center marks a big shift in the way that iOS works. Many of us have wanted Home Screen or Notification center access to turn key services on or off. Some even Jailbroke their iOS devices to get this in the past. Now, it’s finally here in iOS 7. Just not in the way most of us expected it would come.

 ios7-control-center

Control Center is accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, and by default, is accessible from anywhere in iOS. This even includes from the Lock Screen, which makes your iOS device much more useful without having to fully unlock and go into an app.

Unfortunately, this swipe up trigger for Control Center does conflict with some apps. For example, I use OliveTree’s Bible + Maps on both my iPhone and iPad for most of my Bible study needs.

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In portrait orientation, you swipe up to activate split screen, which is difficult to do without triggering Control Center.

Thankfully, Apple added an extra control during the beta process allowing users to disable Control Center while you are inside of apps.

ios7-control-center-settings

While this reduces its usefulness somewhat, it is still accessible from Home screens and the Lock screen.

 

5. How do I close apps?

If you used Apple’s previous Fast App Switcher in iOS 4-6, you’ve probably had a big surprise using iOS 7. iOS’s new multitasking apps switcher is like a combination of Windows Phone and the older webOS, which was the first OS to use the card metaphor for apps.

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Closing apps is now a more intuitive process in iOS 7. No more tap and hold or “jiggling app icons.” Just swipe the card up, and the app is closed.

 

6. What the happened to the Agenda View in Calendar?

I haven’t used the stock iOS Calendar in years, and the latest version isn’t going to change that. However, a lot of iOS users do, so let’s take s look at what’s new. The big issue I have is that the new version isn’t very intuitive.

To get to the Week View, you have to rotate your iPhone to Landscape orientation. This isn’t new, but I thought I’d mention it for those who are unfamiliar.

 ios7-calendar-week-view

If you are wondering where the Agenda View is, tap the Search icon at the top right of the Today View, and it will take you there.

ios7-calendar ios7-calendar-agenda-view

These were just a few parts of iOS that may confuse some new users. There are also several new features in iOS 7 that are very handy, once you get to know them.

 

1. Going Backwards

I’ve been begging for gestures on the iPhone ever since we got them on the iPad. Now, it seems that Apple is headed in that direction. In addition to Notification Center and the new Control Center, Apple has added back gestures to several of its stock apps. For example, you can swipe to the right after opening a message in Mail to go back to the Inbox or folder that the message resides in. Another example is the ability to go back to the previous web page visited on the current tab in Safari.

 

2. Email Message Gestures

While we’re on the subject of gestures, Apple added another to the Mail app that is very helpful. Swiping an individual message to the left reveals a Trash button, as well as access to additional options.

 ios7-email-gesture

Pressing the More button reveals all of the options you need to manage your message without having to open it.

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3. Background App Refresh

This is definitely one of the  biggest additions to iOS 7. While iOS 4-6 has had the ability to save app states when closing, and some limited background processes for certain third party apps, developers now have full background refresh capabilities at their disposal. For example, this means that mail and social media apps can update in the background, so our messages are there when we open the app.

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Apple also included access to this feature in Settings, where you can turn it off completely, or manage it app by app. I would recommend you take a look at this screen, and turn off apps that you don’t need to run in the background. This will keep them from needlessly shortening battery life.

 

4. Dynamic Text Size

Here’s another one that’s been requested several times in the past. iOS 7 includes OS level controls for text size. Right now, this mainly applies to Apple’s stock apps and the OS itself, but developers have been given access to this feature through an API.

icon 1ios7-text-size-small icon 2ios7-text-size-med icon 3ios7-text-size-med

This should be very popular, especially with users who have poorer eyesight, so it is likely that most popular third party apps will support iOS’s Dynamic Text.

 

5. Siri

Did you hear the news earlier this week? Siri is officially out of beta. It’s about time. After living with the iOS 7 beta for the last two months, I can understand why. It is definitely better and faster than it was two years ago when Apple rolled it out. Apple also included some useful new features, such as Wikipedia and Bing Search integration.

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Despite what you may think about Bing, this is really handy for making quick searches while on the go. You can still do a Google Search if you specifically request it, but it launches you into directly into Safari. Bing and Wikipedia are integrated into the Siri interface, and make it easy to get an answer quickly.

siri-wikipedia-search

While these additions may not qualify as major new features, these are nice touches that are worth trying out while getting familiar with iOS 7.

 

1. Dynamic Wallpaper and Parallax Effect on Home and Lock Screens

These aren’t game changing features, but they add a nice bit of icing on the iOS 7 cake. I know Android fans have had these capabilities forever, and they’ve been chirping away since Apple announced them as part of iOS 7. Let them have their fun. Who cares. Enjoy your fresh new coat of paint.

 ios7-lock-screen

 

2. Live animation in multitasking cards

This is living proof of apps working in the background. If you are using Maps while driving and pull up the Multitasking View, you’ll see the route continue to track in the card. If you look at the Camera app, the screen will continue to track the lens movement.

 ios7-multitasking-live-animation

It just shows that iOS has taken a sizable step forward in flexibility.

Any time you swipe to unlock your phone, iOS 7’s new particle physics engine is on display. You’ll see the app icons zoom onto the wallpaper at different speeds.

 ios7-particle-physics

Then, any time you open or exit an app, iOS 7 will zoom you into or out of the app. It’s a really cool effect that adds a lot of life and depth to the experience.

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These are just a few of the new features and tricks that iOS 7 has up its brand new sleeves. Do you have any other questions about a feature? Are you missing something that you were used to in previous versions? What are your favorite parts of iOS 7. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, in the forums, or hit me up on Twitter @jhrogersii, or on Google+. I would love to hear from you.

 

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  • bikdav

    . “For example, I use OliveTree’s Bible + Maps on both my iPhone and iPad for most of my Bible study needs.” James Rogers, you just blew your cover. I’m assuming that you are a believer and follower of Christ. BRAVO!

    • James Rogers

      I am. I’m certainly not ashamed of it, but I don’t choose to publicize it here, as this isn’t a place geared toward religious discussion.

      The only reason that I mentioned Olive Tree in the article was because it is the only app that I have personal experience with that demonstrates the reason for Apple adding the extra settings to Control Center. I think most of the apps affected were games, but I have triggered it a few times when opening Bible+’s split screen for study notes and such.

      If anyone wants to discuss religion with me, I am certainly open to doing so on any of my social media accounts, but not here on the site.

  • Tamara Haefele

    How can i change my screen from portrait to landscape?

    • James Rogers

      Do you mean the Home screens? Unfortunately, while the iPad has always done this, Apple has never enabled OS-wide landscape support on the iPhone or iPod Touch.

  • Darryl Foulkes

    iPhones are for fags!

  • David Dickinson

    The ios7 operating system is so far faster than ios6 but I would like to know if you can change the background colour in the calendar app from white to whatever?