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Apple’s personal digital assistant can do a lot more with iOS 7. Siri now has access to setting such as brightness and Bluetooth. It can also return calls, manage voicemail, and control iTunes Radio. One can now choose between a female and male voice, and international voices have been improved. The new Siri interface is translucent, and when invoked, will appear over the app you are using. It also keeps requests within Siri, providing answers within the new UI, instead of bouncing the user to Safari. Siri’s knowledge base now includes Twitter, Wikipedia, and Bing.
The much-anticipated iTunes Radio was unveiled at the WWDC, just as Apple was finalizing deals with labels and publishers. The new service is much like Pandora, but may feature a larger selection of music. It allows users to listen to more than 200 stations, which are based on genres. The user can also modify the song selection. Music played on iTunes Radio can easily be purchased on the iTunes store. The new service will also be available for Apple TV. The service is free, but subsidized with advertising. An iTunes Match subscription ($25/year) removes ads from the music service.
There’s many more features in iOS 7, such as FaceTime audio calls and redesigns of Music and the App Store. Whether you like the new user interface or not, this is only the top layer of the operating system. The real heart of the OS lies in the APIs. iOS 7 introduces 1500 new APIs for developers, far more than previous releases.
I will be writing an article about the new APIs and the functionality they enable. Apple doesn’t always make the best apps. Not everyone loves their democratic design. However, they do have industry-leading APIs that enable third-party developers to create the best apps. That’s the most important thing about iOS 7. Too many tech writers are focusing on the user interface. The UI is important, but once you launch an app, much of the user interface is defined by the developer. For example, a game like Metalstorm for the iPad allows one to participate in an aerial dogfight by tilting the device and using the iPad as a cockpit control panel, while the game play is displayed on Apple TV. No other mobile operating system has this level of functionality or system integration. Look for more innovations in iOS 7 that set this mobile operating system apart from the pack.