Make the most of gestures and quick access controls in iOS 7, says Videep Vijay Kumar

Some of you have already had a taste of what Apple's new mobile operating system has to offer, but the vast majority of iDevice users will have to wait until Fall this year (mid-to-late September, or if rumours are to be believed, September 10) to get their hands on iOS7. Since its debut at WWDC earlier this year, iOS7 has undergone change — some significant, and some cosmetic ones over the course of several beta updates (it is currently at beta 6). Rumours also point to the final build being available to developers during the course of this week via iOS beta 7.

The overhauled aesthetics and visual design had two opposite effects when first revealed — they were either hated with a vengeance or praised immensely. But the bottom line is this: the new visual elements are here to stay and whether you like it or not you’ll have to put up with them if you plan on holding on to your iPhone or iPad.

Here’s some good news, though — you’ll forget about them soon enough (once you’re done admiring or being annoyed with the parallax background, fonts and new animations, presumably). Once iOS 7 stops being your shiny new toy and becomes that boring thing you stare at all day on your phone, you’ll take note of the fact that it is quite capable of helping you with, as Apple puts it, “all the little everyday things too”.

Yes, the visuals are at the centre of the all-new operating system, but it’s greatly complemented by two core elements: gestures and quick access. But as a regular user, which features can you get the most out of?

Gestures

You’re soon likely to be immensely productive and completely lost at the same time thanks to iOS 7’s gesture-driven controls, when a flick up or to the left can perform exactly what you intended or leave you stranded at a point of no return (fortunately, the latter scenario is pretty unlikely given the intuitiveness of the UI). The home screen, in addition to every native app, leverages gestures to the fullest, and everyday users will be able to make the most of them even while running heavy-use apps such as Mail and Messages. A personal favourite? Multi-tasking in landscape mode and killing apps with a gentle flick up (not because it’s particularly intuitive or anything, but because it makes the process better and easier). Yes, Android users, we can hear you laughing and saying “been there, done that”.

Quick access

Control Center sums up the quick access philosophy governing the new operating system (it’s not restricted to a few apps or screens, extending instead to the entire user experience of iOS7).

Flick up from the bottom of the screen and you’re greeted by a nice little widget that lets you change the very fabric of your iPhone’s being. Gross exaggerations aside, Control Center is what iPhone users have needed for years now (again, Android got here first), but one of the new quick access features is a hidden gem: wireless connectivity via AirDrop and AirPlay. If you’ve got a compatible device that is capable of receiving files or media via either of those, your iPhone 5 will be the most expensive and best remote control/media streamer you’re likely to own. Oh, and not since the Nokia 1100 has an included flashlight been such big news.

Best of the rest

You’re likely to spend a lot of time on the following native apps every day: Photos, Camera, Music and Safari, all of which make great use of gesture and quick access controls. Camera now resembles Instagram, featuring filters — apply one and you’ll instantly be able to take a look at how wonderfully iOS 7 compensates for your innate inability to shoot a single decent photo, or alternatively, complements your immense skills with a phone camera. The Photos app can look a little overwhelming and cluttered in its “timeline” view, but if your photos are location tagged, there’s a nice map screen with thumbnails of photos you’ve taken at different places — so if you’re one of those people who says “I like travelling”, actually travel a lot, and spend an equal amount of time looking at your phone screen as you do the outside world, you’ll get very good bang for your buck here.

Heavy web users and googlers will love the new Safari — open an unlimited number of tabs, convert web pages to reading mode using quick access, full screen browsing and preloading pages of your “top-hit” searches are just a few things you can look forward to.

Finally, if you’re a music buff (who isn’t?), you’ll notice that CoverFlow is a thing of the past — the new app has undergone cosmetic changes that throw focus on cover art and track listing, while iRadio is an interesting addition as well, but users in India will have to wait for it to be localised before an official launch.