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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.

The biggest addition — and this will be huge — is iTunes Radio. Like other streaming music services, iTunes Radio can build stations of similar music based around any artist, genre or song you choose. To get started, there are more than 300 stations based on genres, Twitter trends and even a bunch of stations put together by guest DJs.

To add a station, just click on the Radio toggle located at the bottom of the Music app. Doing so drops you into a screen where you can play one of the Featured Stations, pick one of your own stations or create a new one.

Once the station is set up, the interface looks just like the music player except there's no skip back control. In iTunes Radio, there is instead a star icon. Pressing that brings up a list of options: Play More Like This, Never Play This Song and Add to iTunes Wish List.

The upper part of the Now Playing screen displays the iTunes price of the current song — with a tap or two, you can purchase it without leaving the music player. There's also an "i" button you can tap for more information. Here, you can see album information on the iTunes store (which opens via an in-app sliding sheet); create a new station from the current artist or song; tune the station for songs based on Hits, Variety or Discovery; toggle explicit tracks on or off and share the station.

iTunes Radio allows you to create your own "station" based on artist, genre or even a single song.

iTunes Radio plays an occasional ad, but if you're an iTunes Match subscriber ($24.99 a year) and Match is enabled on your device, iTunes Radio is ad-free.

The Phone app
The Phone application picks up the lighter, brighter theme and details of iOS 7, but for the most part, it has stayed pretty much the same. The dial screen gets a frosted glass translucence that dynamically changes depending on your background. Otherwise, there are only a couple of significant updates.

First, the Phone app now supports FaceTime audio over Wi-Fi. That means you can make free calls to anyone with an iOS device using FaceTime audio — something I'm sure wireless carriers must love.

And second, tapping the More Information icon to the right of listed numbers in Favorites, Recents and Voicemail — or just selecting a contact — gives you access to the redesigned Contacts.

If you scroll to the bottom, you can select individual callers to block. Whenever blocked numbers call your phone, they're pushed to voicemail. You can see a list of blocked callers under Settings > Phone > Blocked. Blocked numbers aren't just limited to the Phone app, though; you can also block contacts from making FaceTime calls and messaging attempts. Messages, FaceTime, and the aforementioned Phone Settings all have the Blocked feature.

 

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