10 tips, tricks, and timesavers to get more out of iOS 7
iOS 7 is here, and it's the most radical update that Apple's mobile OS has ever seen. But while the overhauled interface and bold new look is getting all the attention, iOS 7 comes with a bucketload of new features and enhancements that make it easier to use and more secure.
The new features are easy to use, but Apple's radical overhaul of the iOS interface has made some of them a little tricky to find. We'll show you how to locate and get the most out of ten handy new features in iOS 7—some of which you might not have even known existed.
Sick of seeing the little red circle on your App Store icon? You'll love the new iOS 7 feature that lets your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad automatically download and install app updates as soon as they become available.
To start, open the Settings app, then scroll down to and select iTunes & App Store. Next, scroll down to the Automatic Downloads heading; there you'll see options to automatically download music you've purchased from iTunes, apps you've downloaded and installed on any other iOS devices, and app updates for the apps you have installed on that particular device. Automatic updates are on by default, but you can tap the slider to toggle the setting on and off.
By default, iOS 7 will only download automatic updates when you have a Wi-Fi connection, but you can download them while on a cellular network if you really want to. To do this, look for the Use Cellular Data switch in the iTunes & App Store settings screen, and slide it to the right. Unfortunately, this is an all-or-nothing setting: You can't tell your iPhone to stream iTunes Radio while on a cellular network but restrict automatic app updates to Wi-Fi, so be aware of this catch if you don't have an unlimited data plan.
Also, there's no way of preventing iOS 7 from updating a particular app if you use automatic updates; for example, if you like the old version of an app but think the new one is terrible, you can't prevent it from getting updated unless you switch off automatic updates entirely.Block numbers from texting or calling you in iOS 7
We've all been there. The survey takers keep trying to reach you, or the wrong number that keeps dialing you, never seeming to realize that your'e not the person they're looking for. Blocking numbers usually requires the assistance of your cell provider, but with iOS 7, you can block selected people from calling, texting, or starting a Facetime session with you.
Scroll aaaaaaaaalll the way to the bottom of a contact card to block someone. (Sorry, Jason.)
If you want to block someone, you can go about it one of two ways: Through your contacts list or through the Settings app. To block someone already on your contacts list, open the Contacts app, select a contact card, scroll down toward the bottom, and tap Block this Caller. If you're blocking someone in your Recents list of the Phone app, you'll need to tap the "i" to get their contact card, but aside from that, the process is the same.
If you want to edit your blocked list more quickly, open the Settings app, then go to either Phone, Messages, or FaceTime settings; scroll down to Blocked, and you can add or remove people from your blocked list. To add someone, tap Add New...; to remove someone, swipe a person's name from right to left, then tap the Unblock button that appears.
Keep in mind that if you block someone, they won't be able to call you, send you text messages, or start a FaceTime conversation with you. You can't block someone from texting you while allowing them to call. Keep this in mind, and block responsibly.How to share files on iOS 7 using AirDrop
Introduced in Mac OS X Lion, AirDrop is a feature that lets you easily share files with other Mac users on your local network. With iOS 7, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users get to join in the fun. AirDrop on iOS devices can share photos, videos, web pages, map directions, and more. You can't share with Mac computers, though.
AirDrop sharing in the Photos app.
To use it, you need to make sure you and the person you want to share something with have AirDrop turned on. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open Control Center, then tap AirDrop. To receive AirDrop shares only from people who are in your contacts list, tap Contacts Only; to share with anyone nearby, tap Everyone. Ask the person you want to share with to do the same.
Next, open an app that supports sharing via AirDrop—in this case, let's use the Photos app as an example. Open a photo, then locate the share button (it's a square with an upward-pointing arrow). If the other person has AirDrop turned on and is nearby, they should show up along the top of the sharing panel. Tap the name of the person you want to share, and they'll get a message asking to accept the photo. Once the person you're sharing with taps the Accept button, your phone will beam the photo to theirs.
What your friend will see when you share a photo with them.
AirDrop works over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but it doesn't work over the cellular networks. You don't even need to be on the same Wi-Fi network for it to work—you'll automatically create an temporary direct connection to the other person, so long as you're within a close proximity to one another.
Bear in mind that AirDrop does not work on all iOS 7-compatible devices: It only works with the iPhone 5 and newer, the 4th-generation iPad and iPad Mini, and the 5th-generation iPod Touch and newer. You'll also need an iCloud account in order to use it. AirDrop's transfers are encrypted, too.How to change Siri's voice in iOS 7
Siri, Apple's sometimes-snarky virtual assistant, gets a new voice in iOS 7—a couple new voices, actually. Siri still has a smooth female voice by default, but you can swap that out for a male voice if you prefer.
For US English, you can give Siri either a male or female voice.
To change Siri's voice, open the Settings app, then go to General settings. From there, tap Siri, then tap Voice Gender: Here you'll be able to choose from a female voice—one that sounds a little less robotic than the one in iOS 5 and 6—or a male voice, and have Siri take on a new persona.
Unfortunately, you're limited to only one male and one female voice, so you can't change Siri's voice with reckless abandon, or load in lots of new voices as you can on some auto GPS systems. Also, if you have Siri set to a language other than US or Canadian English, you may still only have one voice to choose from—sorry, UK iPhone users. Still, some choice is better than none.How to use Activation Lock in iOS 7
If you ever lose your phone or tablet, iOS 7's Activation Lock feature could potentially save you some angst by locking out would-be thieves. When you erase your lost phone through Apple's Find My iPhone tool, iOS 7 will not only erase your data from the phone, but it will also require a thief—or whoever happens to find your lost phone—to enter your Apple ID and password in order to use the phone in any capacity. This effectively turns your lost, erased iPhone into a glorified glass-and-metal paperweight.
There's not much you need to do to set up Activation Lock. If you associated your iPhone with an iCloud account, odds are you're all set to go. To make sure that your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch are set up for Activation Lock and Find My iPhone, go to the Settings app and tap iCloud.
From there, scroll down until you see Find My iPhone, and make sure the slider is set in the On position (the round slider will be to the right, and green).
Find My iPhone.
To lock or erase your phone or tablet, go to iCloud.com on your computer and sign in with your Apple ID and password. Once logged in, select Find My iPhone, then select Devices and select your device. Find My iPhone will track down your device's location, and it will give you the option to play a sound (useful if you lost your phone in the couch cushions), put your phone into "lost mode" (which lets you protect your phone with a PIN and put a message on the lock screen), or to erase your device completely, which puts it in Activation Lock mode.How to customize Notification Center's 'Today' view
New in iOS 7's Notification Center is the Today view, which, as its name suggests, provides highlights about today. Be default, it will provide that day's weather forecast, your calendar, reminders on your to-do list, your stock quotes, and any events on your calendar for tomorrow. But perhaps you don't need to know where stocks stand, and maybe you don't have enough going on in your life to have the calendar appear. Here's how to adjust it to show what you want it to.
Apple gives you some control over what appears in the Today view.
To tweak what appears in the Today view, make your way over to the Settings app, tap the Notification Center settings, then scroll to the Today View heading. There, you can pick and choose what appears on the Today screen by flipping a few toggle switches.
Today Summary: This gives you an overview of today's weather conditions, and tells you what's next on your agenda.
Next Destination: Is your next calendar appointment across town? This will give you an estimate of how long it will take to get there, or how long it will take to get home at the end of the day.
Calendar Day View: Shows the iOS Calendar app's appointments for today.
Reminders: Shows anything you have in the Reminders app that you want to be nagged about today.
Stocks: Current stock prices as listed in the Stocks app.
Tomorrow Summary: A brief overview of what you have to do tomorrow.
You can shuffle the order in which items appear—to a limited extent, anyway. Tap Edit in the upper right corner of the Notification Center settings screen and then drag around the items using the "grabbers"—the three lines next to each item in the list. You can only reorder Calendar Day View, Reminders, and Stocks, though; the other sections stay in place. Once you're done shuffling things around, tap Done.
For now, that's all you can have appear in Today view, and if you want to hide Today view entirely, you can't—even if you disable all Today view items, the panel will still be there, empty and lonely.
Adjustable text sizes aren't new to iOS, but iOS 7 improves upon it with its new text size adjustment tool. In iOS 6, you could adjust the text in certain apps to appear much larger than the default. You can still do that in iOS 7, but you can also adjust it to be smaller, too, in any app that support iOS 7's Dynamic Type feature.
To change text sizes, make your way to the Settings app, tap General, then tap Text Size: You'll be presented with a slider that lets you adjust text size from tiny to quite large. Adjust the text to the size you want, then exit out of Settings. Any changes you make will take effect the next time you go to an app, so you don't need to manually close an app the reopen it for the change to occur.
If you would like to use text that's larger than the Text Size tool allows, you can do so through iOS 7's accessibility features. Open the Settings App, tap General, then tap Accessibility. Once there, look for Larger Type, and tap it. Enable the toggle next to Larger Dynamic Type, and you'll now be able to set even larger text sizes.
Look, hidden timestamps!
In iOS 6, the Messages app will show you when you started an exchange with someone, and it will remind you of the time you chatted periodically thereafter, but it won't show you the timestamp for each individual message you send or receive. iOS 7 keeps track of timestamps for individual messages, and it will show you them—provided you know this simple trick.
Open the Messages app and navigate to a conversation thread. Once there, make a swiping gesture onscreen by swiping your finger from right to left. As you swipe, the timestamps for each message will appear. Lift your finger or slide it back to the right, and the timestamps will hide again.
Unfortunately, iOS 7 doesn't let you always show timestamps for all messages, but at least the info is there if you need it.How to see which iOS apps are popular nearby
iOS 7 lets you find out which apps are popular near you. As gimmicky as it may seem, it could help you discover some interesting new apps you might not have otherwise used, and it may tip you off to some apps—such as local public transit apps—that will help you find your way around a new city.
To discover these apps of local interest, navigate to the App Store, then tap Near Me in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen (it replaces Genius from iOS 6). You'll then be presented with a list of apps that are popular among those in your current geographic area.
Here in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood, popular apps include Socailcam (a video recording and sharing app) and LevelUp (a mobile payment app) as well as Pocket MUNI, a navigation app for San Francisco's public transit system.
We can't guarantee any of the apps popular near you are of any actual use to you—much less any good—but it's a fun new way to explore the App Store.
iTunes Radio, Apple's new Internet radio service that launches alongside iOS 7, gives you some limited control over what you hear—and what you don't. Here's how to make sure Miley Cyrus stays out of your stations.Play more songs like your favorites
Tap the star on iTunes Radio's Now Playing screen, and you can tell it whether you love or hate the current song.
If you can't get enough of Imagine Dragons' hit song "Radioactive" and want to hear more songs like it in your station, tap the star in iTunes Radio's Now Playing screen, then tap Play More Like This. This will adjust the mix of songs you hear to include more songs that are similar in nature to that song.Block songs
OK, maybe you can't stand Imagine Dragons. Who am I to judge? It's just as easy to block songs you don't ever want to hear again. Ever. Tap the star, then tap Never Play This Song, and iTunes Radio will banish that track from your station. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that you can block artists entirely, so while you might be able to block "Radioactive," You still might have "It's Time" pop up in your station.Mix it up
In addition to specifying what specific tracks you want or don't want to hear, you can also adjust your station's general mix of songs to include only hits, or to also include more obscure songs.
iTunes Radio lets you adjust the variety of songs you hear in your stations.
To do so, tap the "i" at the top of the iTunes Radio Now Playing screen. Under Tune This Station, you'll see a slider that lets you choose your station's breadth of song choice. Select Hits if you only want to play hits (this is the default), select Discovery if you want to only listen to lesser known tracks, and select Variety if you want a mix of both.
By default, iTunes Radio excludes tracks with explicit language, but if you aren't easily offended, tap the switch next to Allow Explicit Tracks. Just don't blame us if you want to wash your iPhone's mouth out with soap, so to speak.
There is one catch: If you're listening to one of Apple's Featured Stations, you can't block songs—you're stuck with whatever Apple gives you, though you can still disallow explicit songs.