Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 9.41.52 AM

iOS 7, Apple’s brand-new take on their mobile operating system, has been released to the public and is now available as an over-the-air update or through iTunes.

Below you’ll find a full walkthrough of many of the new features and changes throughout the overhauled OS, including a look at the built-in apps that received the biggest changes.

Before you can dive into everything that iOS 7 has to offer, you’ll need to update your device. You can find full directions for updating in our how-to from yesterday. Once you’re updated, check out all of the shiny new additions to the OS:

Features

Design

iOS 7 is full of changes big and small, but the most notable—and noticeable—is the all-new visual design. The long-revered design principles of Scott Forstall and Steve Jobs have been replaced with new ideas from Jony Ive. Gone are the gradients, stitched leather, and paper textures from previous versions of iOS.

In their place you’ll find plain white navigation bars and backgrounds paired with sharp-angled glyphs and borderless buttons. Transparent overlays resembling frosted glass are the closest thing you’ll find to a real-life surface in this update.

Along with the new interface comes a whole new set of icons. Unlike previous iOS icons, each of the built-in icons in this update are built on a common grid, giving the various elements consistent sizes and layouts.

We’ll discuss a few of the new built-in app designs below. Many third-party applications have also started adopting the new design language.

Control Center

control center

One of the most-requested features in iOS with each update has been the ability to quickly toggle common settings like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Airplane Mode. While jailbroken iPhone and iPad owners have had these options for a long time, Apple has finally decided to give users access to quick toggles.

To activate Control Center, just swipe up from the bottom of any screen. You’ll have immediate access to toggles for Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb mode, and the rotation lock which was previously in the multitasking tray. You can also control your screen brightness, music playback, AirPlay and AirDrop functions, and quickly launch your camera, calculator, clock, or flashlight.

Multitasking

multitasking

Since many of the functions previously contained in the multitasking tray have been moved to Control Center, the multitasking interface was also redesigned and now includes no functionality besides switching and quitting apps.

Instead of the old  “dock”-like app switcher, double-clicking the Home button instead triggers a card-style app switcher that allows you to quickly swipe through your running apps. Tap any app to switch to it, or swipe it up to quit.

iTunes Radio

Music streaming services like Spotify and Rdio have become quite popular recently. These apps allow users to legally stream music without having to purchase it from the iTunes Store. Since the iTunes Store is a large source of income for Apple, the company has built it’s own Pandora-like service that allows users to create stations based on music they enjoy. The stations then stream similar music with intermittent ads.

While you can’t select specific songs to play from iTunes Radio, you can buy songs you like directly from the iTunes Store without leaving the Music app.

Subscribers to the $25/year iTunes Match service can listen to iTunes Radio ad-free.

AirDrop

airdrop

AirDrop on iOS functions very similarly to the feature of the same name on OS X. When you want to quickly share a file between nearby devices, you can use AirDrop to seamlessly transmit the file without having to go through email, iMessage, or other services.

AirDrop uses a combination of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct to locate your friends, and connects to your iCloud contacts so that you can see your friends’ names and photos on the share sheet instead of random device identifiers or email addresses.

Notification Center Today view

notification center

Notification Center in iOS 7 has received a visual overhaul like the rest of the system, but now sports several new features, including a “Today” tab that shows relevant information to your day at a glance. You can get your weather, calendar events, stock ticker, and reminders all listed on one page.

Unfortunately, the page is a bit annoying to use. The weather is written out in a paragraph and doesn’t always contain the same information (some days it might list the high and low, other days it might not). The calendar no longer lists individual events, but instead contains a full-size day view of your calendar, forcing you to scroll through the whole page to tell whether you have any events. The same is true for the stocks widget, which no longer scrolls horizontally but instead lists all of your stocks vertically.

Thankfully you can toggle any of these sections off in the Settings app if you decide you don’t want to see them.

Multi-user Shared iCloud Photo Streams

Another much-requested feature that finally made it into a shipping version of iOS is the ability to have multiple contributors on a Shared Photo Stream. Previously only the creator of the Photo Stream could add anything to it, and others who were added only had the abilitiy to view the photos the creator had added.

With iOS 7, specific users can be granted the option to upload their own photos to a Photo Stream. This is especially useful for family photo albums or collaboration among a team.

Popular Nearby Apps

app store

The App Store in iOS 7 doesn’t boast very many new features outside of the design, but it did ditch the Genius tab in favor of a new Popular Nearby feature. This feature uses your current location to determine which apps are current among other users in the same area.

Lost Mode

Find My iPhone’s “Lost Mode” got a few tweaks in iOS 7 as well. When you add a message to the lock screen from the iCloud website or Find My iPhone app, you can also set a phone number to call. The screen displays a call button for whoever happens to have the phone, which automatically calls the number you specified so that they can return the phone to you.

Activation Lock

Another security feature for lost devices in iOS 7 is Activation Lock. If at any point your iDevice is erased using iTunes, Activation Lock requires your iTunes password before the phone or tablet can be used again. This ensures that even if your phone is stolen or found by someone who doesn’t intend to return it, they can’t use the phone without your password. Hopefully that will lead them to return it since it’s useless to them.

New services in Siri

Siri, the built-in personal assistant that debuted with the iPhone 4S, has learned a few new tricks in iOS 7. It can now search the web using Bing without launching Safari, find users or specific content on Twitter, and look up just about any subject on Wikipedia.

Built-in apps

All of the built-in apps in iOS 7 have been completely redesigned. Below you’ll find walkthroughs of the apps with the most changes from their iOS 6 counterparts.

Calendar

calendar

Calendar didn’t get very many new features in terms of functionality, but it did get an iPad-style overview of the entire year. Most of the new changes in iOS 7’s Calendar are visual. The new style introduces a few new ways to interact with your events, though.

Specifically, where previous versions of iOS showed the list of any given day’s events at the bottom of the screen when you tapped that day, iOS 7 instead “opens” the screen to reveal a list in a separate panel. This means that rather than simply tapping another day to view different events, you’ll need to tap the “back” button to return to the month view.

Photos

photos

Photos recieved several new features in iOS 7. The biggest is a new way to view your pictures as a “collection” sorted by time and location. You can even back out of these collections to view an entire year’s worth of photos as a single grid.

Another new feature—and perhaps the most useful addition to the app—is the ability to add multiple contributors to a Shared Photo Stream. Now you and your family members can create a common shared stream for reunions, or you and your friends can create a shared source of great iPhone wallpapers.

Camera

In iOS 7, Apple has finally jumped onboard with the photo filters trend. You can now select one of eight preset filters while taking a photo, or apply them later. If you don’t like how a filter looks on a photo, you can remove it or swap it for a different filter at any time, even after you’ve taken the photo and moved on.

Camera also has a new shooting mode called “Square” that does exactly what the name implies: it crops your photos to a square, much like Instagram has been doing for years. The method of switching shooting modes has also changed. Instead of a switch in the corner of the app, you switch modes by swiping the screen left or right.

Reminders

reminders

Gone is the leather-and-paper design of the old Reminders app. It has been replaced with an interface similar to that of Passbook, using cards for separate lists. Checkmarks have been replaced with colored circles. For the most part, if you’re familiar with Passbook in iOS 7, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how to use the new Reminders app.

Game Center

game center

Game Center got one of the most dramatic facelifts in iOS 7. The green felt and wood textures have been replaced with solid white. The old casino-inspired interface has given way to colored bubbles that animate and fly around when you tap them. Most of the functionality is the same, but the substantial visual changes can make it feel like there’s a lot of new stuff to see in the app.

Compass

compass

Like Game Center, Compass has ditched the wooden textures that previously made it resemble something you might find in a store. The new interface is black with a white dial. You can get a little more detail about your current location, and swiping to the left reveals a new level that is a bit confusing to use at first but quickly makes sense.

Safari

The new Safari update is mostly cosmetic, but there are some functional changes as well. Scrolling now hides the app’s controls like in Google Chrome on iOS. You can open an unlimited number of tabs, and scroll through them using a card-like view that looks sort of like a vertical Cover Flow.

Safari also has a new tab in the bookmarks panel that can show links shared by your friends on Twitter and other social sites.

Final thoughts

iOS 7 is the most ambitious release of iOS to date. Where the original iPhone operating system was developed over several years and constantly improved upon in design and function for six years after its release, iOS 7 was put designed and put together in a much shorter period of time. Apple has learned a lot from the past six years, and they still have much more to learn. Rebuilding something as widely known as iOS from the ground up in a year is a big undertaking, even before you consider the fact that they added over 200 new features.

Yes, there will be bugs. At this point, there should probably be fewer bugs than there are, but take into consideration the immense amount of work that went into redesigning an entire OS. Bugs can be fixed. The more important question about iOS 7 is not whether it will have problems, but whether Apple will solve them.

Apple set out to make iOS a simple as possible with this update. Some would say that they have achieved that goal. Others would say they’ve taken that goal too far. While Apple is pushing iOS 7 as the future of their mobile platform, iOS users are divided over the controversial approaches to whitespace, color, iconography, typography, transparency, and every other aspect of the new aesthetic.

Whether Apple listens to the criticisms of disappointed users, or pushes ahead with the backing of those who support their vision, iOS has been irreversibly changed. Only time will tell if that change will gain mainstream appreciation.

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105 Responses to “iOS 7 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch released; here’s our walkthrough”

  1. Omar García says:

    iTunes still show me that there is no a new version yet for my iPhone 4, 5.

  2. Fred Cruz says:

    downloading already IOS7

  3. Finally! It showed up on my iPhone! I have been checking for the entire morning! Hold on a sec… 3 GB space required for installation! I’m screwed…

  4. I’m running the last beta before the GM & can’t update! My phone & iTunes both say I’m up to date…

  5. Just to be sure, is the public release the same build as the GM Seed for developers last week?

    Also, I think the hard recovery mode is still bound by the Activation Lock. I remember actually downgrading back down to iOS 6.1.4 during the iOS 7 beta phase and I was surprised that I couldn’t activate it without the original iTunes account it was tied to.

  6. Just tried updating. After clearing enough space for the download, it said Software Update Failed – An error occurred downloading iOS 7.0. I’m on an AT&T iPhone 4S 16GB. Is it working for other people?

  7. Jim Phong says:

    Yeah..the features are there and programmers and engineers did an amazing work BUT new aesthetic just plain sucks and it has to be changed quickly. Steve Jobs designed iOS to be classy, elegant and functional. Tim Cook and Jony Ive now turned iOS 7 aesthetic into a childish joke like the atrocious Microsoft Metro/ModernUI crap and the messed up Android UIs.
    That is the problem that needs to be fixed immediately.
    And with the huge failure and scam that the iPhone 5C really is.. the only good thing to do here is fire Tim Cook, Jony Ive and his whole gang of lazy overpaid overhyped employees.
    Tim Cook fired most of Steve Jobs people that made Apple into a huge successful Corporation.
    If Tim Cook starts firing the Steve Jobs’ SoC engineers and OSX, iOS coders too then Apple would get destroyed in a couple years. Tim Cook is not suited to be Apple CEO. He is a marketing guy with no clue about what he is doing and no respect for customers, he doesn’t care about products quality, otherwise he wouldn’t have released a iPhone 5C crap plastic product at such an high price removing the true iPhone 5 from market.

    • Tim Cook a marketing guy? Jony Ive’s team a gang of lazy overhyped employees? I’m sorry, but this post smells like another student over in Asia paid by Samsung to badmouth competitors.

    • Do you really think the iPhone 5C wasn’t planned when Steve was still around? Apple doesn’t work just one year on their products, they’ve been developing iPhone 5C/iWatch and waiting for the perfect moment for years.

    • Phong is another name for a troll…

      • rahhbriley says:

        I’ve been telling people this for a few months now. He uses fallacies to back up his arguments, and thinks Cook is a corporate spy. He’s been calling for his firing for a few months now. Really funny that he doesn’t seem to know that Cook is THE reason Apple is a financial juggernaut from an operations and accounting standpoint. Marketing haha what a ignorant thing to say Jim Phong. I would actually say Marketing is one of Tim’s weaker areas and thats funny that you would think of him as that, especially with how much you lead the Cook bandwagon. It’s also ignorant to think Steve wouldn’t have been game for the 5C, iPod mini and nano rocked lots of colors. Can’t say for sure of course, but his past behavior would indicate he more than likely would have. People complained when Steve was around about products too. People remember the past too fondly.

    • Really Jim? Please,phong yourself :-)

    • lol.

      In the words of Douglas Quaid: “Relax. You’ll live longer”

    • Angel Diaz says:

      Hey, this is the final release, not Beta 1, it took you too long to realize about IOS7 and posted until today? Something is wrong with you.

      Anyway, IOS7 will succeed, Iphone5C have been sold completely in China in the first hour and you are saying that is a complete failure… Your argument is invalid.

    • thejuanald says:

      How can you call that skeuomorphic crap classy and elegant? It looked like childish toy garbage. iOS7 is a massive improvement and has made me question whether or not I will switch from my iPhone 4S to a Samsung Galaxy S4. Before iOS7 I was completely convinced I was going to drop Apple for Android, but now I’m really considering a 5S

    • I actually agree with you, but Apple die hards (who appear on 9to5mac more than any other blog) will not care. The 5C is for girls. The UX on iOS 7 is plain awful. (I’m a UX guy.) We may well adapt to it, but (and I am typing this on a MacBook Air, so am loyal to Apple when it counts), Android is a lot nicer looking now and the notification system is light years better.

  8. The server must be getting slammed because I keep getting an error message.

  9. Is it going to update from GM via OTA?

  10. It says Software is updated. What the hell ?

    I’m from Argentina, btw

  11. Hmm…”Software Update Failed – An error occurred downloading iOS 7.0.”

  12. anybody know where the direct link is for it? I cant seem to find it. I’m running beta version and the OTA update isn’t catching it checked in iTunes 11.1. But it thinks it is up to date.

  13. Anyone else getting an error message every time you try to download?

  14. Im just getting “unable to check for update” Damn!

  15. I’m starting to get REALLY ticked. 5 times it has gotten down to 5 minutes or less and then it errors out on me and I have to start all over again! Thinking it’s not worth it right now.

  16. hello every one how do i get iOS 7 its still not show me any update from iPhone or mac and i still don’t have iTunes redio

  17. You don’t need to update if you have the General Master…

  18. Agree with the article. Definitely a worthwhile upgrade but a few loose ends. I’ve been running it since June and the battery life improvement alone is worth the upgrade. If interested you can view my pros and cons reviews here: http://blog.vimware.com

  19. Krista Kimba says:

    SOME QUESTIONS:

    How will this OS bog down 4/4S users? Will it eat up our batteries faster? and use more CPU?

    Can you change visual settings and other OS backgrounds to a more “black” darker friendly visual scheme. I hate the white backgrounds. Doesn’t lighter-brighter pixes means it takes more energy and battery to generate?

    How do you go back to previous OS if you really don’t like it or it is an energy eater?

    I hate the flatter icons and lined OS buttons. They look dumbed down visually. Any options for changing any of this?

  20. Daniel Moran says:

    Ergh! I restored my phone and now it can’t activate it because it wont connect to the network through itunes!

  21. David Park says:

    Installed and played with. On the upside, first impressions are that it’s more snappy. Downside is the flatness is unattractive, the new standard font is harder to read in smaller sizes, and the colors seem a little too bright to me. I must be getting old!

  22. Anyone know how to add weather to Notification Center?

  23. My iPhone 4 says it can’t activate, tried to restore but it still can’t activate.

  24. Does anyone has the same problem? : I succesfully updated to iOS7, but now can’t activate the phone… Tried with cellular network and wifi and keep getting errors. Can’t use the phone.

  25. anyone else getting errors from itunes/ios activation that it cannot connect to the server etc?

  26. Jon Price says:

    I’m running beta 6 (11A4449d). Shouldn’t i get an ota update? Haven’t received one yet. Should i just go the direct link route?

  27. What case are you using??? (RED)

  28. hmm, why change of siri to bing?

  29. do ipods get the updae or no bc my friend got the update on her phone and its really cool I want it! oh well prolly getting an iphone for Christmas so idrc

  30. Kirby Sneen says:

    The features are great but the design is awefull. I miss Scott Forstall.

  31. Make sure to download the latest iTunes (11.1) just released today… If you want to download ios7 via iTunes

  32. Varun Pande says:

    hey…i hv just updated my ipad 4 with ios 7…..after downloading..it…..i just pressed on install…and then the ipad have gone to recovery mode….with the itunes sign on it………and it said to restore…and when i restore using itunes …it said it is restoring to ios 6.1.3….pls…can somone..solve this….

  33. Great update! It doesn’t really live up to the hype so if you haven’t downloaded yet, please keep that in mind. That said, the things that have changed, which are mostly cosmetic, are well thought out and simply beautiful. I’m a little disappointed that I can’t change the background to something darker than white, especially at night but I can dim the screen much easier so I guess it balances out. I love the new animations and the new tones but I miss the 3D effects in iMessage and elsewhere. The new Reminder app is top notch – a huge improvement over the previous version. The calendar doesn’t impress at first but once you start to play with it, you come to realize that it is now much easier to see your appointments than ever before. So, even though it doesn’t meet up to the hype, it’s still a significant improvement overall and the best part is that it is free. Download and enjoy.

  34. Boris Romac says:

    update itunes first :)

  35. Denis Souza says:

    After the update for iOS 7.0, i have problems to download messages with IMAP protocol. Some e-mail providers Works fine, some don’t. On iOS 6 all was working fine … anyone have the same problem ?

  36. Bob Black says:

    Interesting.. I wonder how Apple will justify legal action against all the features they COPIED from other systems, but claim they PATENTED them first,,

  37. i updated my 4s on ios 7 and all works fine except my keyboard on messages or facebook or mail. it crushes all the time and i can’t write a message! Anyone with the same problem?

  38. Bob Black says:

    there are CHICK cars,,, now there’s a CHICK os.. .not that there’s anything wrong with that

  39. Got a bunch of update error messages but with a little persistence and 5 retries in a 15 minute period, in the end all went well.
    I really like the multitasking thing and the new lock screen commands, also the overall looks are simply fantastic.
    Too bad my old iPad2 seems to be a bit on the weak side for the new animations… and I had to restart Safari twice before it began streaming videos normally. Other than that it’s all OK for now.

  40. Andrew Teton says:

    iOS7 is fine on my iPhone 5, but after putting it on my 3rd gen iPad, the virtual keyboard is non-responsive to touch for 30 seconds or more. It is unusable. Anyone else encounter this?

  41. I downloaded the iOS 7 for my iPhone 4s but then it tells me to connect to iTunes which I did then it told me to restore my phone and it will not let me I keep getting an error code of 4013?!?!? Any suggestions???

  42. Maps Night mode?? Where is it?

  43. jacobandlar says:

    Can anyone help me activate iMessage on my iPhone 5? I just updated and it won’t let me log into iMessage. Please help me. I’ve done everything it tells me but it still doesn’t work.. Thank you!

  44. Updated my iPad 3 gen. Didnt have it passcoded, after update being asked for passcode!!! ipad now disabled! How do I get in? Tried restore through iTunes, wants me to turn off find ipad! Cant log in to turn it off!!!
    What to do?

  45. Muthu A says:

    Don’t upgrade to IOS7 This is a garbage. Not able to use the phone using single hand. The responsiveness is too bad.

    1) Can you try fastforward song while playing ?? and when the screen is locked it is too horrible. the screen is moving instead of the seekbar. you need to use your index finger rather than using thumb :)

    2) From contacts — select text to the contact and cancel the text it will take you to the message instead of the contacts.

    3) I am not sure i received a call and after ending the call it is automatically calling the last dialed… Buggy OS – Not all time but it is.

    In final this is such a crap and looks like windows vista to me. Just decoration [ animation ] work rather than concentrating on the user experience level. Too flat and confuses what need to do next and for a simple action in ios6 some areas it takes 2 taps. Is there any option to downgrade ??? Apple – Atleast provide the option to the users to downgrade and see how many of them are downgrading!!!

  46. Peter Graham says:

    Can’t now log into App Store, tells me password and/or user name incorrect although I am using same identification as os 6!

  47. The new baby b;ue font is very pleasing. But how about something I can actually see? What’s so bad about bold black, especially in the day light?

  48. Joanie Gray says:

    Whilst the program improvements are good the design of the icons is childish, not a step forward but a step back and image is important. This design failure will cost Apple big time against it’ rivals.

  49. Ever since my ios 7 update, all of my Facebook notifications have turned off. I don’t get them on my lock screen OR the little red icon with the number of how many I have on my homescreen. All other apps are working normally. Any tips?

  50. Garbage. the constant irritating visual effects like jerking, zooming, twitching and other crap make using iOS 7 absolutely unbearable. that’s “simplicity” Joni Ive was referring to? at least let people disable all the annoying and distracting convulsions.

  51. Send Jony Ive back to the third grade with that new visual design, and bring back the designs of Scott Forstall and Steve Jobs. What are you people at Apple thinking? If I wanted a Android phone I would have bought one.

  52. Calendar and iTunes (wait…”Music”…I’m sorry) are BIG steps back. I was so disappointed with Calendar – which is NOT intuitive at all – I already dumped it for the free “Cal” app. iTunes needlessly puts the band/musician photo next to the name, so now the screen only shows 4 or 5 bands at a time when scrolling. Plus, you need two extra steps just to rate a song.

  53. When I updated to ios7 on my iPad 2 I lost everything on my calender along with the ability to add events also. So not only can I not replace the events I lost but I cannot add new ones either!!! Why is that?

  54. I don’t see the flashlight, calculator, etc in the control Center on my iPad3, only the clock and camera

  55. John Matthew says:

    I have recently updated my device to latest iOS 7 for final release. I have seen many great functions there.

  56. What about the arrival of jailbreak for iOS 7 in the industry? I am looking to remove Apple’s imposed restrictions on my device.