What Makes the New iPhone iOS 7 So Different?

Whether you love it, hate it, or fall somewhere in between, iOS 7 has already changed the way people use their iPhones. A native flashlight function, a swipe-screen for wi-fi and bluetooth, and a near inverse of the traditional color scheme; these are the things that users can put their fingers on from the very beginning, but there is a lot more going on beneath iOS 7 that is not immediately evident.

This article is intended to update iPhone app owners about the latest iOS 7 and highlights the latest improvements on how Apple is improving the user experience.  

iOS 7 and Application Development

What-makes-the-new-iphone-ios-7-so-differentWhen it comes to iOS application development, Apple has always been part of process via their iPhone SDK (software development kit). Developers work within the framework Apple has provided them, and in turn Apple does it’s best to ensure that every app will perform the way it is intended.

Consider the basic iPhone SDK. Development begins at the foundation of the app, building a number of basic features necessary for any application. Next, the developer builds in the skeleton of the application, adding all the necessary programming to control how the gameplay or interface will work. Finally, the developer will be able to begin the high-level development, customizing the app so that it comes into its own.

With iOS 7, though, Apple provided a number of skeletal structures and extra features that move the development in a different direction – skipping much of the earlier work and heading straight into the high-level development.

Custom Applications that Drive Memorable Experiences

High-level development is all about the customization that makes an application unique. This could be adding special challenges that drive a player to put in extra hours, updating content on a regular schedule, or establishing a visual style. When it comes to iPhone application development in iOS 7, high-level development finally gets to take the front seat.

For companies and developers, this means a radical shift in how time and money is spent developing an application. Plot, characters, graphics, style, content; all of this takes the forefront. Beginning first and foremost, with the iOS 7 aesthetic.

Guide User Experience with the iOS 7 Aesthetic

iOS brings a new aesthetic to the iPhone experience; one in which colors, icons, and the UI experience are distinctly iOS 7.

In designing iOS 7, Apple put a lot of time and effort into providing what they felt was a fluid and uniform experience. For example, take a moment and flick through the Apple apps that come with every iPhone. From the App Store to the Settings, every program they run integrates fluidly with the iOS 7 aesthetic; which includes such features as borderless buttons, translucent bars, and a full-screen layout for view controllers.

When you come to the task of producing or updating your own application for iOS 7, it is important to consider how these different aesthetics can affect the way users experience your content. If you want your app to stand out in stark contrast to the iOS 7 aesthetic, then you will want to emphasize borders or a darker color scheme in all your user interfaces. While if you want your users to slide smoothly into your app, without the jarring sensation of a different aesthetic, then you would want to emphasize these newer features – and probably take advantage of an Auto Layout design in your application development.

There is no requirement that you stay true to the iOS 7 aesthetic though, much as Apple chose to diverge from the style of iOS 6. Just keep in mind that the aesthetics of the user interface are an integral part of the iPhone experience, and that what worked just fine in iOS 6 may seem clunky or dated in iOS 7.

Stand the Test of Time with 64-Bit Support

Aligning with the release of Apple’s A7 chip, iOS 7 now allows developers to compile their apps in a 64-bit runtime (as opposed to the 32-bit runtime that was the norm through iOS 6). But the reasons for going 64-bit may not be immediately obvious.

When Apple announced the 64-bit option, they claimed that applications might be able to run faster because of the extra processor resources that are available in the 64-bit mode. While this is technically true, it glosses over an important fact: the iPhone’s memory simply isn’t high enough to take advantage of the 64-bit option yet. In fact, you need upwards of 4 GB of RAM before you realy notice a difference shifting from 32-bit to 64-bit.

Why would you want to produce 64-bit apps then? One simple word: Longevity.

While even the most graphics-intensive apps don’t need an upgrade just yet, there will eventually come a day when even basic apps will require a 64-bit runtime. At which point any older, 32-bit apps will either fail to load, or drastically slow down a phone’s performance. So if you want to develop an app that will really stand the tests of time, that will play an important role in your users’ lives for years to come (and won’t disturb their experience at any point along the way), you’ll probably want to go 64-bit.

Game Kit Foundations Enable High-Level Design

Games are some of the most popular applications around, and the iOS 7 update provides special frameworks that can help speed up development; or even take the games outside of the iPhone device.

The Sprite Kit Framework provides a solid infrastructure on which to build 2D and 2.5D games, which includes a graphics rendering system, sound playback support, and a physics simulation engine. All the groundwork is already there for a developer, which means they can jump right in and concentrate on the unique design aspects and the high-level development that truly sets an app apart in a user’s mind.

At the same time, the Game Controller Framework does something pretty new for iPhone games, it lets you configure made-for-iPhone controller hardware right into your app. Users can then hook up game controllers to their iPhone, iPod, or iPad and customize their gaming experience to the mode that suits them best. All without adding any time to the application development.

iOS 7 also introduces a number of improvements to Game Center. First, it supports exchange features, which allow players to initiate actions with other players even when it isn’t their turn. This opens the door for chatting, trading, simultaneous turns, and other player interactions. Second, the addition of specific conditions to game challenges allows developers to specify the requirements for a reward in far greater detail than they ever could before. All of which drives increased customer engagement and helps your app garner the type of attention that drives both in-app purchases and organic referrals.

Background Executions and Seamless Content Updates

iOS app development isn’t just about what the user is seeing, it is also about the maintenance in the background. Which is why in iOS 7, Apple now allows developers to specify specific background executions.

Part of providing a useful app is updating content on a regular basis, whether it is sharing it between two devices or gathering it ahead of time for whenever it is needed. What you don’t want to do, however, is annoy a user by forcing them to sit there and wait for new uploads every time they open the app. Instead, these operations should take place in the background of the iOS, where they’ll use less battery and free the foreground up for whatever else the user needs to do.

With iOS 7, developers can now install a simple fetch command into any application that will activate from the time the app is opened. The fetch command will establish a timeline for when to look for content, and the developer can set the release of new information to line-up with these intervals. Thereby providing a greater stream of content, without sacrificing control over when and where that content is delivered.

Conclusion: A New Generation of Options

Reactions to iOS 7 have been understandably mixed. It is a bold and sudden change for Apple to make, both internally and externally. Additionally, some of the things that Apple has done won’t even affect the iPhone as a whole for years to come (such as the introduction of 64-bit capability). But whether you agree with it or not, iOS 7′s differences are built upon the past experiences and needs of both iPhone app developers and users.

With the advent of iOS 7, Apple has given the iPhone application developer a choice they may have never had before: the choice to focus almost solely on high-level development.

Whether you are looking to develop an application from scratch, on a timeline, or with detailed content, iOS 7 gives developers the opportunity to pick the path that is best for them and their clients. Which is why choice, among everything else that iOS 7 makes possible, is the single thing that makes it so different from anything that came before. The choice to begin wherever one wants, and to end with the very app they set out to make.