iOS 7 vs iOS 6: how different are they?

iOS 7 vs iOS 6: what's different?
Control Center now gives you quick access to functions previously hidden in settings

iOS 7 is the biggest change to Apple's iOS since the arrival of apps in 2008. It's brighter, bolder and guaranteed to annoy anyone who thought iOS looked just fine, but there's much more to it than that dramatic new user interface. iOS 7 is packed with new features big and small. These are the highlights.

That new interface

Like it or loathe it, there's no denying that iOS looks very different. It's much more minimalist than before, with a distinctly flat look - check out the new Messages or Mail compared to the iOS 6 versions and the differences are obvious. Apps that haven't been designed for iOS 7 yet are going to look a little bit odd compared to the stark new Apple apps.

A new lock screen

iOS 7 vs iOS 6

The new lockscreen incorporates parallax effects

The lock screen benefits from a parallax effect: move your phone and your wallpaper appears to move. Where the iOS 6 lock screen has two swipeable bits for unlocking your device or launching the Camera app, iOS 7 has four: unlocking, Camera, and two new swipes: swiping down from the top of the screen to see notifications, and swiping up from the bottom to bring up Control Center. Speaking of which...

Control Center

Control Center is something many iOS users have been clamouring for for ages: instead of wading through endless Settings screens to turn on features such as Airplane Mode, Control Center provides quick access to key features: Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb and Rotation Lock. It also provides media playback controls, Airdrop file sharing, and quick access to the phone's LED light and the Clock, Calculator and Camera apps.


Notifications have been given a major revamp: there are now three sections (swipeable left to right) headed Today, All and Missed. Today tells you what's on your schedule and includes cute details such as "it would take you about 9 minutes to drive home right now" and a summary of the weather forecast. All collates notifications of app updates, messages and so on, and as you might expect Missed tracks notifications of missed calls and notifications you didn't deal with. You can customise which apps can access Notifications in the Settings app.


The Camera app has been dramatically redesigned and offers four kinds of shooting: video, photo, square (for Instagram-style shots) and Pano (for panoramas). You also get Instagram-style filters for adding retro effects.


The Photos app has been redesigned too, and it can automatically organise your photos into what Apple calls Collections. The feature uses your device's GPS to sort photos not just by date, but by location - and it's smart enough to know the difference between the exhibition centre in one part of a city and the cinema in the city centre. You can also zoom out to see your photos by year, which is handy if you never, ever clear the pictures from your iOS device.

Spotlight has been moved: to activate it, just pull down in the Home screen.


iOS 7 vs iOS 6

The simplified Safari makes for fuss-free browsing

Safari gets a much simpler interface that disappears completely as you scroll through pages, and the interface for switching tabs is more visual (and very similar to the new multitasking interface).

Bookmarks can access shared links from your Twitter feed, the address and search boxes have been combined into a single box, and iCloud Keychain can generate and store passwords and securely store your credit card details too.

You'll have to wait for that last one, though: Apple pulled it from the Gold Master release at the very last minute, and we're expecting it to appear when OS X Mavericks ships.


Good news for fans of FaceTime who'd rather not have, or whose connections aren't good enough for, video: iOS 7 now offers audio-only FaceTime.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.