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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Photos has also picked up some very cool tricks. There are now three tabs to choose from, located at the bottom of the screen: Photos, Shared and Albums.

The Photos tab uses GPS and time-stamp data in every photo to organize your pictures by Years, Collections and Moments. Moments represents individual photos, and you can swipe through them as before. But if you tap the upper left part of the screen, you're brought to the Collections screen, in which the thumbnails of your photos are grouped by date/time and location. If you tap the upper left again, you're brought to the Years screen, which displays thumbnails based on the year the picture was taken.

In the Years and Collections screens, you can tap and hold on a photo, and a larger preview appears above your finger. You can also drag your finger through the photos to find the one you're looking for, and the photo preview will cycle through your photos as you drag. Guiding your fingers over photos is actually useful if your iDevice has a Retina display; it's sharp enough to show the differences in the preview popup between normal and HDR photos.

The Shared tab displays your Shared Photo Streams, those you subscribe to as well as those you host. There is a new Activity section that organizes Photo Streams based on recent activity such as posts, comments and Likes; it's like the Facebook wall in that it shows all of the activity across your shared and hosted Streams.

Photo Stream now allows subscribers to share their own photos on your stream -- and videos can be shared.

The Albums tab gives you separate listings for Camera Roll, iCloud Photo Stream, Panoramas and videos, and it's where you store your own, customized collections of photos.

Although the default theme for photos sports a white background, if you tap your photo once, you can replace the white background with black and hide the on-screen information overlay.

App updates, security and Siri

One great new feature in iOS 7 is the arrival of Auto Updates for apps. Any apps downloaded from the App Store can now update themselves in the background. If you're like me, there are some apps you like to keep track of to see what features have been added or changed. The Notification Bar lets you know when an app has been updated so you can tap and view the change logs. This one feature has effectively cured my OCD regarding app updates, while still allowing me to keep track of the apps I want to know more about.

A revamped Siri
Siri now features in line results.

Device security has also been beefed up in iOS 7. Find My iPhone has been a popular service, allowing you to see where your iPhone is at all times on a map. If it got lost, you could send messages to the phone, activate sounds and even remotely wipe it. Unfortunately, doing so would restore the device to factory defaults, saving your data from falling into a stranger's hands, but practically gift-wrapping it for the new owner to start anew.

With iOS 7, turning off Find My iPhone requires your Apple ID and password, as does reactivating the device, even if you erase it. Custom messages also remain on display the Lock Screen -- again, even after you wipe your data.

Unless someone comes up with a workaround, this should act as a deterrent for iDevice theft. If enough people use the feature, thieves may realize that stealing an iPhone is a waste of time.

Siri has been given a makeover -- audibly, visually,and in terms of functionality. Apple's virtual assistant now displays over frosted glass -- once again emphasizing the layered look of the OS -- and has a pair of smoother male and female voices. They can be toggled under Settings > General > Siri.

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