Review: Apple's iOS 7 is much more than a pretty face

More than a superficial coat of paint, iOS 7 represents a new direction for Apple's mobile OS

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If you upgrade by connecting your device to a computer running iTunes, you'll have the option to either Restore or Upgrade. The Upgrade option leaves your settings, data and apps in place; the Restore option deletes everything on the device first before installing a fresh operating system. If you've been having issues with your device, or if you've modified the OS in ways Apple hasn't sanctioned (such as Jailbreak), then a Restore may be the best bet.

Lock Screen background image
The Lock Screen shows very little except the time and date, and the slide to unlock message.

Welcome to Apple's future

After the installation is done and your device has restarted, you get a multi-language welcome screen. Right off the bat, the brighter interface is noticeable; the white screen and new fonts are a hint of what's to come.

With a Slide to Unlock swipe, you're launched into a Set Up Assistant that walks you through the process of configuring basic settings such as connecting to a local Wi-Fi network, toggling on/off Location Services and, if you're starting from scratch due to a Restore, options to set up your device as new or restore from backup via iCloud or iTunes. Restoring from backup brings all settings, contacts, mail accounts, iTunes purchases, etc. to your iPhone. That way, when the restore is finished, your device is just as it was.

After a few simple setup questions, you'll be dropped off into the new Home Screen. Welcome to iOS 7.

A new home (screen)

At this point, as you scan iOS 7's new look, you're either smiling or frowning.

When this new design was first revealed in June at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, various Mac techies debated whether it was a good idea. My take now is the same as in June: iOS 7's color scheme looks as if the folks behind Flower Power iMac and the new iPod touch models had stormed Apple's design office, raised their minimalist, multicolored pirate flag and looted all things shiny in the old iOS.

If you think back to 2007, the first iteration of the iPhone operating software was leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. Since then, Apple has continued to improve the iPhone experience, each year releasing a major new version featuring hundreds of changes, tweaks and additions, both large and small. Even as features were added, the overall interface remained consistent: drop shadows, detailed textures, and app designs based on digital equivalents of real-world elements (called skeuomorphism . The original goal of skeuomorphic element design was to ease iPhone customers into using and navigating a touch screen.

However, this approach was clearly more suited to the iPhone audience of six years ago; since then, nearly all mobile devices have built-in touch screens, and most of today's device-buying population understands the concept and basic navigation principles of multi-touch screens. That has allowed Apple design guru Jony Ive and his team of designers to break free of an interface built around digital metaphors for real-life objects. The result is an OS that, instead of doubling down on showy graphics, actually shows restraint.

Control Center
The new Control Center at the bottom of an iPad Lock Screen gives quick access to basic controls. The translucent look allows colors "under" the Center to show through.
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