9 Exciting Features of iOS 7

Last Updated: March 4, 2014

While the iOS--the operating system that runs the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch--was once revolutionary, helping to popularize smartphones when it was introduced with the first iPhone, in recent years, it has begun to look a little stale. Apple had that worry in mind when developing the latest version of the iOS--iOS 7. As a result, the latest version of the iOS not only introduces a major visual overhaul, but also includes hundreds, maybe thousands, of great new features. Nine of the most exciting new features of iOS 7 are detailed here.

      For more on iOS 7, check out 11 Great Hidden Features of iOS 7

With its latest music service, iTunes Radio, Apple has joined the likes of Spotify and Pandora in letting users stream all the music they want to hear (as long as they've got an Internet connection, that is). Forget the subscription plans those services offer, though: iTunes Radio offers unlimited music with a Pandora-style model based around stations. iTunes Match subscribers get an ad-free experience, while free users will have to listen to ads. The music library available via the iTunes Store is the largest in the industry; iTunes Radio unlocks that music and makes it available to everyone.

Learn how to use iTunes Radio via:

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Activation Lock

If you've ever had your iOS device stolen, this feature is going to be huge. Previously, a thief could simply turn a device off to defeat Find My iPhone and then erase and re-activate it, making a stolen iPhone practically brand new. With Activation Lock, Find My iPhone can display a message even after an iPhone has been erased and reactivating the device will require the Apple ID that erased it in the first place. This will make things much, much harder for thieves.

Ever noticed that accessing certain features and settings on iOS--Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, brightness, AirPlay--takes a lot of taps and moving through screens? Not anymore, thanks to Control Center. This menu of commonly used settings and apps is accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. When it appears, you'll have one-touch access to turning on and off Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay, AirDrop, rotation lock, Do Not Disturb, and much more. Control Center will be a huge time saver and offers just the kind of efficiency iOS 7 needs. More »

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You can forget entering a passcode to unlock your iPhone, or a password to make purchases at the iTunes or App Stores, thanks to Touch ID's, Apple's new fingerprint scanning technology. Now, simply lay your finger onto your iPhone's Home button and you'll be off and running. While it's only used for security and passwords right now, expect to see this pop up in many uses, such as mobile commerce, in the future. For now, Touch ID is only available on the iPhone 5S since it's the only device with the scanning hardware built in, but expect to see it on other iOS devices in the future. More »

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Automatic App Updates

You know how it can be annoying for iTunes or the App Store app to always be nagging you to update your apps to the latest version? In iOS 7, you won't have to worry about that; iOS 7 automatically updates your apps when new versions are available. That's one more annoying little detail you can forget about.
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Critics have long pointed to the iOS's lack of ability to wirelessly transfer files from device to device as a weakness. In iOS 7, Apple acknowledged that they were right. AirDrop--a feature that's been present on Mac OS for a little while--comes to iOS 7 and brings with it the ability for iOS devices on the same Wi-Fi network or with Bluetooth enabled to easily swap files. More »
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Filters in Camera App

Instagram became an extremely popular app thanks in part to a built-in set of filters and effects that transforms normal photographs to artistic masterpieces. Apple's built-in Camera app takes a page from Instagram's book in iOS 7 and adds its own filters, including Mono, Fade, Chrome, and Instant. It also adds features like a square image setting that mimics how your photos will look in Instagram.
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FaceTime Audio

For its entire existence, FaceTime has been an app exclusively for video chat. Not anymore. In iOS 7, FaceTime gains the ability to make audio-only calls. It may sound weird to take the video away from a video-chat program, but think about what this means: now you can make calls over the Internet without using your monthly minutes from your cell phone company. Using FaceTime Audio will give you free calls and save you money if you use it over Wi-Fi where there are no monthly minutes.

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This is potentially the biggest announcement of all. CarPlay (formerly known as iOS in the Car) is a new feature of the iOS requires in-dash displays from participating car companies, but where you find them, the iOS will pop up on the screens and be usable from within your car's dashboard. That means getting directions from your car, not your phone, using Siri in the dashboard, and much more. This feature won't arrive until 2014 and is only supported by about a dozen car makers so far, but this could turn out to be a major new market for Apple--and a way to make using your iOS device in the car safer, easier, and more powerful. More »