Apple latest software release brings new, updated feature set

For die-hard Apple fans, Wednesday served as a Christmas of sorts as Apple released the latest version of their mobile operating system, iOS 7, to the public.

Executives at Apple are calling the new version a total refresh. They've completely overhauled the look of the user interface, adding some major and subtle features while also taking others away.

Tech reviews say the refresh was necessary in order for the company to stay competitive.

CEO Tim Cook and others took the stage at Apple's Cupertino headquarters last week to announce new hardware to go along with the Wedensday's software update.

While some iPhone and iPad users take the time to research the feature changes and additions that come with a software update, many of the new features are hidden to most until they stumble over them or are introduced to them by someone else.

Below you'll find a list of some of the changes and features Apple has released, along with quick instructions on how they work.

1) Control Center

How to get to it: Swipe upwards from the bottom of the screen.

Think of control center as a one-stop-shop for the common settings and utilities that are often used. Control Center gives you toggles for wifi, Bluetooth, and orientation lock to name a few. Also, you'll options for screen brightness, music controls, and shortcuts to the calculator, camera, and even a flashlight.

2) Spotlight

How to get to it: Swipe downward from the middle of the home screen

Spotlight allows you to search for anything that's on your iPhone/iPad from contacts and calendar events, to music and apps. In previous versions of iOS, you'd access it with a swipe to the right from the home screen.

3) Notification Center

How to get to it: Swipe downward from the top of the screen

Not a new feature, but one that's been overhauled. Along with weather and stocks, notification center now gives you a summary of your day along with a brief summary of tomorrow. It'll even tell you how long it'll take to get to your next appointment. Gone are the options to post to Facebook and Twitter

4) New Camera Options

How to get to it: Open the camera app

You can now change shooting modes by swiping  through camera modes: video, photo, square, and panaormic. Also, the circles in the bottom right corner allow you to add Instagram-like filters to your pictures.

5) Auto-update Apps

How to get to it: Go to settings > iTunes & App Store > Then toggle the switch that says "Updates" to make sure it's green.

Gone are the days of opening the app store just to update your apps. Now they'll update if the background if you enable this feature.

6) New system Sounds

How to get to it: Go to settings > sounds

Apple has loaded an updated sound library throughout the operating system. There's even a new sound when you plug-in the device to charge. Be sure to make sure you like the new defaults. I almost didn't wake up on time when I found my alarm sound had changed from what I was accustomed to.

7) Photos App

How to get to it: Open the Photos app

Here you'll find Apple has designed the app to sort pictures into moments, collections, and even sort by year. Even in "year" view, you can scrub through the photos by holding your finger down on a photo and sliding around seeing a larger preview of each photo.

8) Airdrop

How to get to it: Found in the "Share" menu for photos, contacts, and other apps

A cool feature designed to rival Bump and other NFC sharing options, it also eliminates the need to send messages/emails to people nearby. Airdrop will let you share photos and other info to people nearby (within 30 feet). The feature uses a combo of Bluetooth and WiFi to share info with the need to compose a message.

9) Siri Updates

How to get to it: Hold the home button until you hear the beep

Siri has gotten smarter. Along with finding nearby restaurants and sports scores, Siri will now perform Bing searches, access Wikipedia, and even tweet for you. They've also added a male voice for those who weren't satisfied by the female version. You can toggle that option in the device settings.

10) iTunes Radio

How to get to it: Open Music App > You'll see a new radio icon in the bottom left-hand corner

Similar to streaming music services Pandora/Spotify, iTunes Radio allows you to music over the Internet. You can create stations that play music similar to an artist you like or separated by genre. You can also choose from other preset stations recommended by Apple. It's a nice way to explore music and listen to more than what's in your library. If you find a song you like, you have the option to purchase it from iTunes.

That's a list of the 10 features I found most interesting. There are others like call blocking and updates to Find My iPhone which could definitely prove useful.

If you see find any new features I haven't mentioned or have some other questions, feel free to send me a message on Twitter @216Brandon on comment in this story.

You can download the latest software using iTunes or selecting Software Update form the General tab in Settings.


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