The Latest from Apple: iOS7

men-97291_150As usual, Apple’s latest iPhone release has garnered lots of hype. The phone itself has some new features, but nearly every iPhone (and iPad) owner can upgrade to the latest operating system, otherwise known as iOS7. The graphics have been completely redesigned, giving it a very different look. Don’t be fooled, there’s a lot more to it than just a pretty new face.

“Swipe” Features

To make it more convenient to get to the things you need most, Apple added a number of features that can be accessed by swiping parts of your phone.

If you swipe the home screen from the top down, you’ll see the notification center, which is not a new feature, but it’s been updated. You’ll see a lot more information here than before, and you can look at today, all, or missed. You can customize this even further under Settings, Notification Center. Swipe from the bottom back up to the top to close this view.

If you swipe from the middle on down, you will get the “Search” box so you can find anything on your phone.

If you swipe from the bottom up, you get a number of handy options on the new control panel: airplane mode, wireless, Bluetooth, do-not-disturb, rotation lock, and brightness control. Just below that you can control playback of your music. The option below that is AirDrop, which is explained a little later in this article. The bottom four icons are a new flashlight feature, followed by the clock, calculator, and camera.

One last “swipe” tip: if you swipe instant messages and emails from right to left, you can easily delete them. This will also show the exact time a text was sent, and with emails it gives you a “more” button with additional options.

AirDrop

AirDrop is a handy way to share photos, links, videos, documents, and other information with people nearby. You can turn it on from the control panel, and you have the choice of turning it on only for people in your contact list or for anyone. Then AirDrop will show up as an option when you want to share information. It only works with people who are in close proximity to you, and they have to have AirDrop turned on as well so that you can send to them.

Unfortunately this feature doesn’t work on some of the older phones and iPads. You need to have an iPhone 5 or later, an iPad mini, or a fourth generation iPad or later.

Automatic Updates

You used to have to manually update apps to get the latest versions. iOS7 handles it for you, but you have to turn this feature on. Go to Settings, look for “iTunes & App Store,” and then in the automatic download section, turn “Updates” on, so it shows up green. You can see what’s been updated by going to the App Store and clicking the Updates tab.

Call Blocking

You now have the ability to block people from calling and texting. This feature is found under the Phone category in your Settings. Look for “Blocked,” which is where you can add anyone you no longer wish to hear from.

If you just want a temporary break from calls and texts, use the “do not disturb” feature instead, which is now easily accessible from the control panel. You can customize your “do not disturb” settings to schedule when you want a little peace and quiet. You can also allow some contacts to call anyway, or you can set your phone so that repeated calls always get through. You’ll find this in Settings, Do Not Disturb.

Another handy phone feature is to set “Respond with Text.” When you receive a call and can’t take it, a window will pop up so you can quickly respond with a text. The default suggestions are “I’ll call you later,” “I’m on my way,” and “What’s up” but you can change these to whatever you like. This feature can also be found in Settings, Phone.

Personalization

There are many personalization settings. You can change Siri to a male voice, if you like. You can choose accessibility settings for visual and hearing impairment, including text size, audio features, contrast, alerting with the flash, and far more. You can even have your phone read text to you out loud.

If you don’t like the new parallax effect, the way the icons on the screen to move as you move your phone, you can turn this down with the “Reduce Motion” setting, under Settings, General, Accessibility. If you really like it, you may want to try out the dynamic wallpapers where even the backgrounds move with the motion of the phone. This is in Settings, Wallpapers & Brightness.

There are new ringtones, of course, which can be found under Settings, Sound.

There are also new photo editing features, somewhat like Instagram, so you can customize your photos.

This barely scratches the surface of all the personalization features, but if you go through all the Settings, you’ll find just about everything you can change.

iTunes Radio

Apple has revolutionized how music is bought and sold, so it’s no surprise they came up with a new iTunes feature. iTunes Radio allows you to play music in genres you like, for free, although there are commercials that play from time to time. It’s very much like Pandora – pick an artist, a song, or a genre, and iTunes creates a custom radio station just for you.

Time to Explore

As always with any upgrade, it takes a little time to adjust. If you can, sit down with your iPhone or iPad for a few minutes and explore the new features. Try swiping different parts of the screen, dive into the settings, send a photo to a friend using AirDrop…just play around for a bit. Use this article as a guide as you try out some of the new options. And don’t forget to turn on iTunes Radio for a little musical accompaniment!

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