For die-hard Apple fans, Wednesday served as a Christmas of sorts as Apple released the latest version of its 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 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 common settings and utilities. 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.
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 in 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 by year. While 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. This comes in handy when you have thousands of photos in your library, as I do.
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 who are within 30 feet. The feature uses a combination of Bluetooth and WiFi to share information between the devices.
9) Siri updates
How to get to it: Hold the home button until you hear the beep > start talking!
- 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 stream 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 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, such as a multitasking overhaul (swipe upward to close apps), call blocking and updates to Find My iPhone that could definitely prove useful.
If you find any new features I haven't mentioned or have some other questions, feel free to send me a message on Twitter @216Brandon or comment on this article.
You can download the latest iOS software using iTunes or selecting "software update" from the general tab in "settings" on your device.