Start at the lock screen
Even at the lock screen, things look different. Rather than the classic bars showing phone signal strength, you have dots. Rather than the rails of the "slide to unlock" system (from those far-off days of fuzzy screens), you have the same words highlighted by a helpful animated glow. But you don't have to slide the words to unlock the phone; anywhere on the screen, left to right, will do.
But wait, don't unlock it just yet. A line at the bottom of the screen suggests something down there (not well enough in my opinion; something like a filled semicircle would suggest a "tab" better). Drag up, and you have Control Center (sic) – Apple's solution to the vexed question of rapid access to often-used controls. It's a translucent layer which you drag up and which offers rapid access to Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb (which holds phone calls and alerts except from nominated people) and Screen Rotation Lock.
Below is the brightness control; music controls; AirDrop settings; and in a row under that Flashlight (invaluable; you'll use this a lot), Alarms/Clocks/Timers, Calculator and the Camera.
You can't configure which controls or apps appear in the top or bottom rows. That will bug Android enthusiasts, who'll see an opportunity missed. Certainly you can see that you might prefer to trade, say, access to alarms for one-touch access to Spotify, or whatever your favourite app is. I have a suspicion some configurability might come in a future iOS version - but not this year.
That said, Control Center is no-brainer useful. Use it for a week, and try to go back to iOS 6, and you'll grind your teeth in frustration. (You can decide whether it appears on the lock screen or not.)
Wait, we're not done on the lock screen.
When Apple didn't include NFC (
A year later there's still no NFC; instead, Apple is bringing AirDrop to iOS 7-compatible phones. That changes a lot. In use, it's very simple: a "sharing" icon in an app lets you send a file, link or other piece of data to those willing to receive it. You choose AirDrop and you get a list of people in the vicinity. Press their icon, and it's done. The receiver gets a message popping up on their screen where they can accept or reject the data - photo, file, link. (Developers might think of more - in-app payments, real cash?)
Obviously, one can think of worrying uses if
Of all the features in iOS 7, this is one of the most intriguing in its possibilities. Paired with another technology - called iBeacon, which will let merchants send you offers or maps when you're in Bluetooth range. Dislike the idea? Set AirDrop to Contacts.
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