Perhaps one of the biggest changes to iOS with iOS 7 is the two top-layer functionality user interfaces: Notification Center and Control Center.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I was never too pleased with the first version of Notification Center, first debuted in iOS 5. It was too crowded with information. Yes, you could remove anything you wanted, but the most annoying part was that if you didn’t access your alerts through the drop-down drawer, it would stay there hanging around for days, maybe weeks.
With iOS 7, the basic idea is very similar to the previous version, but it’s added much more functionality. Instead of one jumbled up list of information and notifications, iOS 7′s NC gives three distinct pages.
The first, ‘today’ gives you a snapshot view at today’s events. It has a one sentence summary of the local weather and any calendar appointments coming up front and center. Scroll down and you get an hourly view of your calendar. And, at the very bottom there’s a quick reminder as to what’s coming up tomorrow. If you have events starting early, it’ll even suggest you go to bed on time.
Scroll right to the ‘all’ page and you have your list of notifications in the order that you’ve arranged them in the Settings app. The entire drawer has a translucent, smoky grey finish. There’s absolutely no hideous grey canvas anywhere. The last page is ‘missed’ which only shows you notifications you haven’t seen at all yet.
One of the most obvious omissions is that it no longer has the ‘tap to post’ options for Twitter and Facebook. I have to say, I’ve not really missed them yet, but they were quite convenient at times. Perhaps Apple’s data collection showed they weren’t really being used. Whatever the reason, they’re not there any more.
Undoubtedly the best part of Notification Center in iOS 7 is that you can now access it from your Lock Screen. No more sliding to unlock and then dragging down. It’s great if just need a quick look at your daily appointments or reminders. Equally as impressive, but nowhere near as important is the animation. If you ‘throw’ the drop-down drawer downwards towards the bottom of the screen, it bounces a couple of times. How high it bounces initially depends on how hard you throw it. It’s pretty cool.
Like Notification Center, Control Center can be accessed from the Lock Screen. Simply swipe upwards and you have a whole host of really important quick access toggles right at your finger tips. The design is much lighter than NC but has the same frosted glass feel to it. Being transparent, it takes on the colors of your wallpaper. A touch I really enjoyed.
The icons and toggles themselves couldn’t be simpler. They’re all thin and black (unless switched on). The top row of 5 icons features Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb and Orientation Lock. Beneath that is the screen brightness slider, then music controls. Next up is AirDrop and AirPlay followed by 4 quick-access icons which launch 4 key apps/features: Flashlight, Timer (in clock app), Calculator and Camera.
I can’t over-state how important I think Control Center is to iOS 7. It’s the one feature iOS has really needed for years, and finally has. And, despite its relative modest design, it’s almost certainly the most important new addition to the iPhone’s software. It’s fantastic and gives you everything you could possibly need access to at short notice.