iOS 7: Things You Should Know About this Update

If you are a Gmail app user and you update to the current version, you may notice a few things. Like, Gmail ceasing to work. Much of my day was spent like this:

Delete. Reinstall. Delete. Purge cache. Reboot. Reinstall. Delete app. Delete acct instance within native mail app. Reinstall. Add gmail acct back to native mail app.

I found out a lot about the new features. I mean really, who has time to read Apple release notes? I spent a lot of time looking at the settings and turning all the new things "off". 

Here are some things you should know:

1. Battery life. For some users this may improve, for others it will totally blow channel water. There's a new General setting called "Background App Refresh" and you'll want it to turn it off if battery drain is a big issue for you. The default apps for Weather and Stocks are default "On", and so is Google Maps if you have that app installed. As long as Location Services are on or the apps are accessed, there is really no need for a forced app refresher.

2. The Control Panel setting is just to configure if the control panel shows up (or not) within other apps and the lock screen. It is one of the ugliest panels I have seen on this update (everything else is really pretty), but it at least allows you to upswipe and select "Airplane Mode" without having to go into the Settings. This is useful for say, being on an airplane or hiking in the backcountry where there really aren't any cell tower signals. I have a protective case on my smartphone and I have a hard time upswiping to access this panel. The notifications panel is easier to pull down than this one is to pull up.

Lock screen orientation. The double tap to home plus a swipe no longer activates the setting to lock the screen's orientation. You can now find this nifty feature under the Control Panel, simply do an upswipe from the bottom of the screen and its icon is on the top far right as the little lock/unlock symbol. I particularly hate reading mail and books and having the screen rotate itself so I have to read it sideways. Ok, granted I am usually reclining on something comfortable when reading such things, but still.. I don't like my screen moving about like a Slinky.

Flashlight. This is built-in and also accessible from the Control Panel. Opening that panel in the dark will give the grue a chance to eat you. Just increase the brightness on the phone and use that as ambient lighting. Besides, at full brightness, Flashlight will drain your battery fast.

3. App Switching/Closing. I have always wondered about that, and now I know. Every app that I had opened since the update was still freakin' open! Here's how to close those apps: Double tap on the Home button and the open app carousel appears. Simply swipe the app's full screenshot up and off the screen. *poof* That is how an app closes. Having all those apps still running in the background from who knows when also drains your battery.

4. Text message time stamps. This is a very neat feature. Now you know when someone pinged you. I don't think there is a way to turn this off. The time stamp display is not intrusive.

5. Settings / Cellular. You can now see which apps are eating up your allocated bandwidth on your cellular plan. And, best of all, you can selectively turn apps off. Besides, for something like video chat using FaceTime, you'll want that to be over WiFi.

6. A feature for the paranoid to turn off: Settings / Privacy / Location Services / System Services / Frequent Locations. 

7. And, the feature that I thought was a nice touch. You can now teach Siri to speak your name properly. I never had conversations with Siri, but occasionally I'll ask it to tell me a joke (iphone jokes are kind of lame) or show me funny cat pictures.

Access Siri and say "That is not how to pronounce my name". Follow the prompts. I don't know of an instance where Siri will actually say my name, but at least now it can pronounce my name correctly.

Btw, using Siri also drains battery life a lot too. Basically any action that makes the phone do most of the processing will drain the battery faster than leaving it idle and using it for phone calls.

Also, the AirDrop feature is only available to iPhone 5 or later models.
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