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iOS 7 is a radical departure from every generation of iOS that came before. Designer Jony Ive's influence is clear. All of the 3-D elements and natural textures that have given iOS its signature look over the years are gone. That means no wooden bookshelf in iBooks, no felt tabletop in Game Center, no leather-bound calendar and so on.
[ What's coming in the next version of Microsoft's phone software? Read Windows Phone 8 Rumors Sharpen. ]
The new operating system has a much more modern look thanks to cleaner lines, more use of white space, modern fonts, and a different color palette. There's no denying that it is a big departure, but Apple was sure to keep many of the platform's elements the same, such as the home screen layout and icon shape.
Apple added a new sliding gesture to a number of apps, including Safari, Messages and Email that make it easier to move between messages, in-boxes or open tabs. The gesture is activated by swiping to the right or left when viewing messages.
Further, Apple added a new control screen that is accessible via swiping up from the bottom of the screen. This control screen provides quick and easy access to the wireless radios, brightness settings, a flashlight and music controls. (Users of Google's Android platform will likely find it familiar.)
Lock Screen Notifications
The lock screen has a new look and feel to match the rest of the operating system. More important than the appearance, however, is the new support for notifications. iOS 7 allows users to see more notifications directly on the lock screen as well as to take action on those notifications. Further, notifications will sync across devices, so if you mark something on an iPad or Mac computer, it will be marked read on the iPhone as well.
Apple has made significant improvements to the way multitasking functions within iOS. Chiefly, multitasking is now supported by all apps available to the operating system. Previously, only select apps could function in the background while users were off doing other things. In addition to expanded support, iOS 7 is smarter about multitasking. It uses a new set of parameters to define when it should and shouldn't update calls in the background, all of which are meant to help maximize battery life while also making sure users have the most up-to-date information.