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Like many others, I upgraded to the new Apple iOS 7 as soon as humanly possible.  Wednesday is my day off, so I kept checking for a software update.  At about 1:05 pm Eastern time, I finally got access to the download.  It took FOREVER to install (once it finally downloaded, it took ten or twelve tries to get it to actually install on my phone, then another 45 minutes to run the install itself once my phone could communicate with Apple’s servers), but I have had an awesome time playing with it since then.  Lucky for me, my future in-laws also have iDevices and asked me to help them figure out the complexities of the new operating system, so I’ve gotten to play with iOS 7 on an iPad 3 and an iPhone 5 as well as on my dinosaur phone iPhone 4.

Let me start this list by saying that my old, sad, slow phone can’t do everything the operating system advertises.  Here are a few of the really neat little things I can do with it, though.  Conveniently, I came up with five of them to write about today.

  1. Flashlight.  OMG OMG OMG.  The days of downloading some crappy flashlight app that essentially puts an all-white image on your screen and turns the screen up as bright as it’ll go are over.  Accessible via the new Control Center (which itself is easily accessed by swiping up from the bottom of your screen), the iOS 7 flashlight uses your camera flash.  Muuuuuuch better.
  2. iTunes Radio.  I was using the iHeartRadio app, but took it off my phone because Software Update kept telling me I didn’t have enough free space on my phone to update the OS.  (I basically had to remove everything that could be removed, but anyway.)  This basically does the same thing, except I’m finding that I like iTunes Radio’s preset stations better, in terms of their variety and number.   There’s an entire category for “Hits of the ’80s” stations.  YES.
  3. You can see text/iMessage timestamps now.  “I’ll be there in five minutes” has no meaning to me if I have no idea what time you sent it.  Plus as an Android-to-iPhone switcher, the lack of individual message timestamps was a bit frustrating.  Glad Apple has addressed one of my very few major issues in the iOS vs. Android battle.
  4. Phone number blocking.  I was not about to pay AT&T anything extra per month so I could block a few phone numbers–because I pay more than enough as it is, especially given the connectivity issues I’ve had since I moved down here.  (There’s a nearly two-mile stretch of a busy major road in my new hometown where I have three or four bars of signal, yet my phone acts like it’s in a dead zone.  Ironically, AT&T has a retail store right in the middle of that dead zone.)  When I got my cell service through Verizon, it was so easy: you could block a few numbers for free through your account on their website, and if you wanted them to stay blocked, you just went back in and re-blocked them when the initial block was up.  I don’t currently have the need to block anybody’s number, but it’s nice to know that feature is there.
  5. Background app updates.  I was so freaking excited when iOS 6 let you go in and install updates for apps you already had without making you put in your password.  If you already have it, and you’re going and telling it to update, why should you have to put your password in to tell your phone it’s okay to install it?  It’s a fair bet that you want the update!  The lazy sloth in me really liked just being able to hit “update” or “install” without having to enter my password every time that little red number alert popped up on the App Store icon.  Apple must have read my mind and is helping enable my continued laziness by automatically updating apps as newer versions come to the App Store.  (In the meantime, my ancient iPod maxed out at iOS 5, so if you’ll excuse me, I have to go put in my password and wait for 23427385273049823049 app updates to happen.)

I am dying to see what this operating system will do on a newer phone with better hardware, especially after some of the usual new operating system bugs are fixed.  Until then, I’ll be over here picking the right ringtone , because this is visually different enough from iOS 6 that it feels like I’ve got a new phone.

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