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Review: Apple's iOS 7 is much more than a pretty face

Michael deAgonia | Sept. 19, 2013
More than a superficial coat of paint, iOS 7 represents a new direction for Apples mobile OS.

App updates, security and Siri
One great new feature in iOS 7 is the arrival of Auto Updates for apps. Any apps downloaded from the App Store can now update themselves in the background. If you're like me, there are some apps you like to keep track of to see what features have been added or changed. The Notification Bar lets you know when an app has been updated so you can tap and view the change logs. This one feature has effectively cured my OCD regarding app updates, while still allowing me to keep track of the apps I want to know more about.

Siri now features in line results.

Device security has also been beefed up in iOS 7. Find My iPhone has been a popular service, allowing you to see where your iPhone is at all times on a map. If it got lost, you could send messages to the phone, activate sounds and even remotely wipe it. Unfortunately, doing so would restore the device to factory defaults, saving your data from falling into a stranger's hands, but practically gift-wrapping it for the new owner to start anew.

With iOS 7, turning off Find My iPhone requires your Apple ID and password, as does reactivating the device, even if you erase it. Custom messages also remain on display the Lock Screen — again, even after you wipe your data.

Unless someone comes up with a workaround, this should act as a deterrent for iDevice theft. If enough people use the feature, thieves may realize that stealing an iPhone is a waste of time.

Siri has been given a makeover — audibly, visually,and in terms of functionality. Apple's virtual assistant now displays over frosted glass — once again emphasizing the layered look of the OS — and has a pair of smoother male and female voices. They can be toggled under Settings > General > Siri.

Siri gets an optional new male voice and shows a waveform animation that moves as you speak.

When Siri is active, there is a waveform animation at the bottom of the screen, showing that the virtual assistant is in listening mode. Many answers are now displayed inline instead of dumping you off into another app. Siri can also now toggle settings like Bluetooth or Do Not Disturb on and off, and it can adjust screen brightness and play voice mails.

While Siri is more capable and faster at processing commands, you still have to be connected to a network for it to work. I look forward to the day where this is no longer an issue.

There's a handy guide showing examples of what Siri can perform located to the bottom left of Siri's screen. But the best way to see what Siri can do is still to ask. You never know what she may say.

 

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