Improved search bar
Search was a bit of a hassle with iOS 6. You had to scroll back endlessly to your first home page to get to the search menu and even then it was an uninspiring, tepid grey screen with a search bar bolted at the top.
With iOS 7, you can search from any page by pulling your finger down from the top of the screen (note: don’t do as I did at first, which was go too far north and open notifications instead). Searches are then broken down by contacts, applications, notes, events and mail, although Safari results are disappointedly not included.
Shades of Android — the Control Center
Here’s something you’re really going to love if you got fed up with having to endlessly sift through settings on iOS 5 and iOS 6. Borrowing heavily in design from Android, the Control Center is a quick swipe up from the bottom of the screen in iOS 7 and lets you quickly make important changes.
For example, you could turn Wi-Fi or Bluetooth on, put the tablet in plane mode, lock rotation, play music or set your iPad to ‘Do Not Disturb’. There’s even quick access buttons for adjusting the brightness, volume, setting a timer or taking a photo.
Rehashed notifications bar
Let’s face it – that notification bar on iOS 6 was a little woeful. Sure, the pull-down method was the same (swiping down from the top of the screen) as was the content, but it was messy and generally a little unorganized.
The Notifications Center on iOS 7 is much improved. It breaks down your notifications by ‘today’, ‘all’ and ones you’ve missed, with the ‘today’ option showing the date, the weather, your calendar and reminders.
Multi-tasking: Easier to do, better to look at
Despite BlackBerry’s protestations, multi-tasking has always been pretty easy on the iPad. You double-tapped the home button and perused your list of open applications at the bottom toolbar.
Once again there’s an element of Android here (albeit most Android tablets have a multi-screen icon which you press to scroll horizontally through open apps) with a scrollbar showing images of the open apps.
With iOS 7, you can scroll through open tabs in a very easy manner and just tap to select which one you want to open. It reminds me a little of Windows Phone but with less hassle. The app icons even match up so that you’re absolutely sure of what you are opening.
Folders can hold more icons
It’s not one of the more headline-worthy changes but it’s an important one nonetheless and that is the change to folders.
Whereas before you could push 16 apps into one folder, you can now send infinite apps into one folder, although you'll only be able to view nine at a time.
Photos: More organized, better editing and greater share options
I use the Photos app on my iPad on a regular basis and this usually involves a lot of scrolling. Apple has attempted to change that in the latest edition of iOS.
Photos are now split by date into ‘Moments’ and over time you’ll see that these will build into a very visual collage.
There are other neat ticks too, with easy-to-access icons for iCloud photo sharing and to your albums.
I was also impressed with the array of in-app editing tools (especially the collection of filters) and the sharing options for iMessage, Mail, iCloud, Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. (note: The new AirPlay tool is in there but doesn’t support my iPad 2 due to it running an older version of Bluetooth).
Apps now auto-update
In fairness to Apple it has made some serious strides in app updating since iOS 5. iOS 6 was a notable change, where users no longer had to enter their Apple ID to update existing apps and where you could update multiple apps at the same time.
iOS 7 is an extension of that with the new auto-update functionality which sees apps quietly update in the background. You’ll then get a message in the Notification Center listing the recently updated apps.