At 10am Pacific time yesterday, Apple Inc. began it’s keynote for the WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference) in California as developers, designers, and fans alike waited with bated breath to see if Apple would actually announce some huge changes.
Well, after months of rumors and articles filled with “what we want to see in iOS 7” all over the inter-web, it seems like Apple did.
First off, let me lay something out on the table.
I am a fan of Apple. I have been for years for many reasons. You know what else I’m a fan of? Travel, mexican food, hammocks, Converse shoes, thunderstorms, rounded corners on business cards, horror movies, and many other things.
Two big things I’m not a fan of are trolling and mustard. Don’t come at me with either bro.
Directly after the announcement the web burst at the seams with first impressions of iOS 7 and opinions from techies about Apple’s latest iteration of their mobile operating system.
And immediately I downloaded it.
My first impressions, along with most others I have read is, “Holy shit this is different.” Yes, it is quite different at first glance, and you will take many glances at it as your app icons float around in that parallax home screen.
Nerd-gasms were abound.
It’s kinda’ trippy. It’s very fresh. It’s drastically different in some aspects. And it is very much the same in others.
What Apple has done, mainly behind the guidance of famed minimalist designer Sir Jony Ive, is to change the look and feel of the operating system to bring it into the future.
Thin Helvetica Neue Ultra Light adds a sharpness and air to the whole phone as does the semi-transparent backgrounds that blend with the environment.
Those annoying (sometimes beloved) textures of leather and felt are gone, and much of everything else as low-key “flat” icons and buttons own the landscape.
It makes everything seem really freakin’ clean and crisp.
Some other major changes to the way it feels it the consistency and gestures which are now very prominent. In the stock apps, sometimes you would find a “+” symbol in the top right to add something, then in another stock app it would be in the bottom right. Sure, this all became muscle memory, but it was nonsense as to why it couldn’t be more uniform.
Now it is.
Along with that, swiping and gestures are the new way to navigate. Swipe up from the bottom for your Control Panel (more on the to come), swipe down from the top for notifications, swipe from either edge of the phone to g forward and backward within an app, etc.
But you can read all about this iOS “fresher-sizing” on tech sites. Let’s get down to travel business.
This article is meant to be about WHY iOS 7 is a gnarly upgrade for travelers, backpackers, adventurers, and the like. And why I am so excited.
In iOS 7, Apple has added heaps of new features, and some which stood out as key features to benefit us travelers that I have listed below.
I’m starting off with my favorite addition to iOS 7…
Airdrop has been on the Mac since the release of Lion, which gives you the ability to transfer files wirelessly over wi-fi, bluetooth, or a close network the computer creates between another Mac.
In iOS 7, you can now transfer files, photos, videos, contacts, and whatever other goodies the app developers take advantage of wherever you are in the world.
What does that mean for travelers?
You could be in the middle of a corn field with no wi-fi and transfer photos and video you just took with the other person frolicking in the field with you.
“No need to walk around a room touching your phone to everyone else’s” quipped a presenter. Burn.
Why I love it: I do all of my design work on my iPad. After things are looking purty, I usually use Dropbox to send them to my computer to add to the blog. Times when I’m on a train, or in a car, or a plane working, I can never do this. Now, I can just air drop completed graphics to my computer and voila!
For years since the iPhone was launched, people have been moaning and groaning for easy access to controls such as wi-fi toggle and airplane mode.
I groaned for these as well.
Most have jailbroken their phones to get these quick features on there because as travelers, we are constantly hopping from one hot-spot to the next, boarding multiple planes, and trying to avoid horrendous roaming fees.
Now when you swipe up all the controls you need are right there.
It includes: Airplane Mode, Wi-fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, Orientation Lock, Brightness, Music Controls, Airdrop, Flashlight, Compass, Calculator, and Camera buttons.
Why I love it: As a traveler, you are in and out of hostels constantly. In an 8 bed dorm, you don’t want to be the asshole that flicks on the light to find something in your pack. With Command Center, it also includes a quick flashlight button. Something I’ve been dying for.
In our travels, we tend to leave pieces of ourselves behind. Want to know what else we tend to do as travelers?
We lose things or have things stolen. At least with me.
when I lost my phone in New Zealand, I was luckily able to use Find My iPhone to remotely erase the content before the bastard who stole it could access anything. Sure, I had a pass-code lock, but sometimes there are ways around this.
Apple just made it REALLY hard for a thief to use/sell your phone.
Activation Lock, upon turning it on will prevent the phone from ever being activated again (even if they erase it completely) without your iTunes password as well!
Why I love it: Now I have a secondary piece of mind that they wont be able to access my data, AND will have a hard as time re-selling it. Here is a middle finger to all you thieves!
APP STORE LOCATION AWARENESS
Imagine you are at a music festival in the UK, or maybe you just arrived to Australia and need some local advice.
Now the app store has location awareness, and will give you recommended applications based on where you are or what event you are close to!
Music festivals occasionally release apps which have maps and information about the venue, but are sometime a pain to find. No need to worry now, it’ll pop up as a recommendation when you enter the app store.
Get local guide recommendations for cities you visit, and also events you may not know about.
Maybe even learn a few local phrases with a recommended app?
Why I love it: Every time I visit another country, I like to at least try to stay a little up to date as to what is going on. It’ll be rad to arrive somewhere and automatically know which apps are most popular to use for that country.
Most travelers I know take hundreds, if not thousands of photos every where they go. And many like myself may only have their iPhone at the ready for a quick capture.
Apple has revamped their Photo Album application to make it a thousand times more organized and easier to navigate.
No more scrolling and scrolling for an eternity to find a photo, the app now breaks things up into Memories based on date, which are in turn stored in Collections based on location, which are then stored by Year.
Why I love it: I have 5,000+ photos on my phone currently, and I’ll be taking tons more. Sure, I could clean out my phone, but I haven’t. Now when I need to find a photo or I want to show one to a new friend, I won’t be scrolling forever just to not find it.
FACETIME AUDIO CALLS
No more need for walkie-talkie apps, and 800 other VOIP apps!
In nearly every country I have traveled to so far, I haven’t had an unlocked phone to text or call others. Pain in the ass.
Then came iMessage, allowing me to text other iOS devices while over wi-fi. While I was in New Zealand, this was a godsend when family back home wanted quick updates wherever I was.
And with Factime included, I could easily video chat home. Except one problem…
Wi-fi in New Zealand, Haiti, and Eastern Canada where I’ve been recently is pretty shitty.
Now without having video streaming gobbling up bandwidth, you can call family and friends who have any of the latest Mac products .
Why I love it: Most of my travel blogger friends, my family, and friends back home have iPhones. Instead of having numerous VOIP apps, asking them to download it, and trying to keep in touch, it’ll be easier than ever.
And that’s it folks!
Well, not entirely. I’m still testing it out under its BETA release (not available for anyone except developers) but it seems like in it’s extremely early stages, Apple has really shaken things up in a good way and made the iPhone even better for travelers.
The features listed above are some which stuck out to me, but below you’ll find a few more I think will be really nifty as well.
Smart Calendar: The minimalistic calendar app now has the ability to track your location and give you live updates on ETA and when you should leave for an appointment, flight, etc.
Improved Reading List: Reading list stores articles for you to read later, without any wi-fi connection. It now also collects articles shared by friends in your social media networks (Twitter, LinkedIn) for you to read.
Turn By Turn Walking Directions: Apple Maps is still improving, but now they added voice turn-by-turn walking directions and 3D maps to take you to your destinations on foot.
Scan to Passbook: I’m already a huge fan of passbook. Now you can scan barcodes and details right into the app itself using the iPhones camera. I don’t know this feature in-depth or what it can store, but it’s intriguing.
iCloud Keychain Passwords: Now, just like 1Password, your iOS device will be able to remember passwords and credit card information for sites you choose to approve. Don’t worry, it has the same amount of encryption as the largest credit card companies use, and it doesn’t store security codes. no more need to remember tons of passwords either!
If you want to learn more, head over to the Apple.com and check out all the features. And yes, they are interactive.
What do you think about these early release features? What else would you like to see?