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Geek Girl Report: iPhone Gets A Much-Needed Makeover – Hands-on With iOS 7

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Last week was a big week for Apple. In addition to releasing the latest versions of their mobile operating system, they also come out with 2 brand new iPhones, the 5S and the 5C. I didn’t have the funds to run out and grab the new golden iPhone, (seriously, gold is one of the new colors) but I did manage to download the new iOS 7 to my trusty old iPhone 5. And now that I’ve had the time to get my hands on it and play around with it, I have to say that this is by and large the best mobile operating system Apple has come out with yet, even if there are one of two little foibles. Here are my hands-on impressions of iOS 7.

Brand New Look

The most obvious difference of iOS 7 is the completely redesigned interface. Gone are all the blocky buttons, drop shadows and odd textures of previous layouts. Everything about iOS 7 is much simpler, streamlined, and unobtrusive. From a design standpoint, it’s like nothing Apple’s ever put out before, although it does share a few suspicious similarities with its competitors Android and Windows Phone. All of the built-in apps, such as Calendar, Photos, Contacts and Passbook, have totally new icons and a new look as well. But for the most part, they all behave exactly the same way as they did in previous installments (thought admittedly, I did have a bit of trouble initially trying to find my way around in certain apps.) In other words, once the novelty of how pretty and shiny the new buttons are wears off, it’ll be business as usual for iPhone users.

Several of the apps and features have also had a few tweaks and improvements, aside from the drastic graphical changes. The Notification Center now has a handy new “Today” view, which features all of your days events, and gives you a preview of what to expect tomorrow, according to your calendar. And Siri, everyone’s “favorite” personal assistant, also had a few changes made, namely the option to switch between a female and a male voice, as well as the option to speak in different dialects, depending on what language you speak.

Control Center

One of the biggest additions to iOS 7 is the Control Center. By swiping up from the bottom of the Lock screen, you can access a ton of different settings without having to unlock your phone. In addition to letting you play music, using the camera and using the new Airdrop feature, (which I’ll get into a bit later) you can also change various settings such as the screen brightness, wi-fi settings, Bluetooth, and airplane mode. That may not sound like much, but when you compare it to the previous iOS, where you had to unlock your phone and fiddle with all of the various menus and sub-menus in the “Settings” button just to find what you were looking for, having all of these commonly-used settings immediately at your fingertips is a welcomed addition. There are also shortcuts to some useful apps, like the timer, the flashlight and the calculator, which can now all be accessed without having to unlock your phone.

The Control Center is by far the best addition to the new iOS 7, but my only gripe is that you can’t really customize it. I would have liked to have seen an option where you can add different apps to the Control Center, like say the weather or the alarm app. But aside from that, this is a fantastic new feature and one that the iPhone severely needed.

AirDrop

Another new features of iOS 7 is AirDrop. Simply put, Airdrop allows you to connect with other AirDrop-enabled devices and shared your files with them wirelessly. This means no more sending your friends photos, videos or other important filed via texts or E-mail. You can just submit them wirelessly in an instant, through a majority of Apple’s first-party apps like Photos or Contacts. This is an incredibly handy feature, and like the Control Center, one that Apple really should have implemented sooner. Unfortunately, it’s not without its flaws. One of my gripes about AirDrop is that iOS 7’s AirDrop is not compatible with Mac OS X’s Airdrop, meaning you can’t yet share your field between your phone and your computer. Hopefully this will be addressed in a future update, but as it stands now, AirDrop is still an incredibly handy feature.

Should You Upgrade?

If you have a device that’s compatible, you should definitely upgrade to iOS 7 as soon as you can. There are so many great new features and additions in this system that I can’t recommend it enough. However, I have heard of more than a few instances where upgrading to iOS 7 has caused some issues for older phones. So before you upgrade, especially if you have something older than an iPhone 5, make sure your phone has enough memory to handle the job. iOS 7 is compatible with iPhone 5, 4S and 4, as well as the iPad 2 and all other iPads after it, including the new iPad Mini.

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