I’ve been fiddling with the iOS 7 beta, and I’ve run into a few features that I haven’t yet seen mentioned anywhere else. Some of them are surprises that delight me, and some not so much. What are they, you ask? Hit the break.
Apple Moved the Keypad Backspace Key
When I was installing the beta, I ran into a bit of an issue. I couldn’t get it to activate even though I knew for sure my UDID was in fact added to my account. So what did I do? I fiddled around for a while to see if I could find something interesting. I did, and it ticked me off.
I clicked the home button and managed to get to the emergency dial interface. I pecked in some random keys–my phone number–just to see how it felt to input a phone number. I missed a number, and I pressed the pound key. Why? Because that’s where the backspace key was on iOS 6. They’ve moved the backspace key next to the entered number and it feels awkward to use.
There’s a Level
If you’re a carpenter or simply a do-it-yourself-er, you may be delighted to hear about this little feature. Included in Compass.app is now a level. That’s right. You can place your iPhone on any surface and it will function as a level–much like apps we saw on the App Store in the early days. Level apps: yet another thing Apple killed with iOS 7.
The Screen Fades When Locking
This is another thing I discovered when I was fiddling with the device before it was activated. I immediately stumbled on the fact that when you press the lock button, the screen doesn’t snap shut anymore. It has a slight fade effect that I find very nice.
There’s a Black Mode and a White Mode
In iOS 6, the operating system applies shadows and gradients to your backgrounds and apps to make backgrounds look nice–regardless of what color they are. No longer. In iOS 7, the OS–instead of applying shadows–decides whether to use a black overlay or a white overlay.
It seems that iOS 7 determines whether your current background is more “black” or more “white” and serves you up the opposite color for app labels and the icons found in the Control Center. The default wallpaper that appears when you start iOS 7 up actually serves the black version, but the live wallpaper we saw on stage shows the white. I prefer the black.
FaceTime Is Its Own App on iPhone
FaceTime has been given its own app on the iPhone version of the software–separating it from Phone.app. Using Contacts.app or Phone.app to open someone’s contact, however, still gives you the option of FaceTime–it just changes apps. This unifies the iPhone software with that of the iPod touch.
Apple announced today that “FaceTame voice” is apart of this release, and that’s signified by a small phone icon next to the contact’s “FaceTime” option. I have a few conspiracy theories about Apple wanted to kill the cell networks and bring free Wi-Fi to the world.
Slide to Power Off Changes
I don’t know if this is actually an intended feature, but holding the lock button to “slide to power off” seems to have a time out period rather than simply locking the device. At the current time, you can sit and look at the “slide to power off” screen for about 10 seconds before it simply bumps you back to the Home Screen.
It’s also worth noting that the “slide to power off” slider works both ways–you can slide left or right to the same effect.
Also, I can’t show you this screen because you apparently can’t screenshot it anymore.
Reminders Has Been Completely Overhauled
Reminders.app, something which–in iOS 6–was a monstrosity, is no longer such. Opening the app gives you a simple list interface that throws out much of the old clunky Reminders interface–all while maintaining much of the same functionality.
You manage your reminders as “lists” now and you can create a new list by tapping a “+” sign in the top left corner. Items on these lists can be given a “where?”, “when?”, and a priority. Notifications for these list items work exactly how they did before.
The Clock (and possibly other apps) Have Live Icons
You can literally watch the second hand go around on the lock screen. As of yet, I haven’t noticed the weather app to have the same capabilities, but that’s probably because the weather hasn’t changed in my area recently. We’ll keep you updated on this one.
There Are Only Two Live Wallpapers Included
Tapping on “Brightness and Wallpapers” is almost indentical to how it was before, but you now have an option for live wallpapers. The only two options, however, are the one you saw today in the keynote, and a slightly grayed out version of that same live wallpaper.
Maybe as more betas roll out, we’ll see more options here.
After about an hour with this software, I have to say that I’m starting to actually like the icons. They really do grow on you. One thing has been made apparent with this release: Jony Ive is truly focusing on functionality before beauty. Every single app works exactly how you would want it to, and I think there’s beauty in that.