The 7 best things about iOS 7

Any OS update is going to have its advantages and disadvantages, but I gathered up seven of my favorite new changes in iOS 7.

iOS 7
Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

iOS 7 launched earlier today and I think it's a worthwhile upgrade for any iOS user. Read my review of iOS 7 here . But like any major software upgrade, there are good things about the changes as well as bad.

I decided to round up my favorite parts of iOS 7 that I think are truly useful and stand out from the other changes. Tomorrow, I'll be writing what I think are the seven worst things about iOS 7, so don't get caught up thinking this is just an iPhone fan-fest.

iOS 7
Control Center gives you access to the most used system functions. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Control Center
One of the most talked about new changes for iOS 7 is not new at all on Android phones, but I think I speak for most iOS users when I say the Control Center is an extremely welcome addition. It was always a pain to sift through the settings using a number of taps just to access the brightness controls. Same for Wi-fi settings, which -- because of an old router at home -- I ended up having to access frequently. Now, a simple swipe upward gives me easy access to these settings and more. Oh, and the flashlight button to turn on your flash when it's dark is a great touch.

iTunes Radio
Frankly, when I heard Apple was making a Pandora-like radio option, I wasn't that impressed. I mean, there are a slew of streaming-music and audio apps in the App Store and many of them are free -- at least the radio features are. But now that I've used the app for a few days, I like it better than most streaming-radio apps I've seen.

Not only can you create a stream based on songs or multiple artists, but there are featured streams that are great for music discovery. Also, when I really like a song I'm listening to, I can buy it straight away from iTunes without missing a beat of the song or closing the app.

Camera app
The iOS 7 camera app is not a huge change over what we had in iOS 6, but I really like having the ability to swipe between shot types. The filters are also a nice touch for adding a quick effect, though I wish there were more to choose from. But what I particularly like is the ability to take burst shots. Everyone knows that not all photos come out perfectly, but if you can take several at a time, chances are at least one will be to your liking.

iOS 7
Simply swipe to the left to see time stamps for every text. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

I have an iPhone 5 so the burst shots feature is not as good as it is on the iPhone 5S (10 photos per second, along with slow-mo), but I'm glad there's a slower variation available on the iPhone 5.

Messages time stamps
One thing that had always bugged me about text messages is that you only got a general time frame for when texts were sent. It would only mark the first text in the chain, so you couldn't tell when subsequent texts were sent or received.

I wasn't even aware of the change in iOS 7 until one of my co-workers pointed it out to me: if you swipe to the left in the Messages window you can see a time stamp for each individual text. I'm pretty sure this change will settle a lot of petty arguments between people: "No, look! I replied to your message 2 minutes later! It's not my fault!" That is a fictitious example that has nothing to do with real life. No, really.

Safari does Twitter
Another new feature isn't getting all the press that things like Control Center and iTunes Radio get, but will be a great addition for Twitter users. Now, when you touch the bookmarks button at the bottom. You can touch the "@" symbol in the top right to get Twitter links. What you get is a list of all the tweets from people you follow who posted links to Twitter. From here, you can just touch each tweet and quickly see the associated post, picture, or video, automatically formatted perfectly for your iPhone.

iOS 7
Safari's Twitter feed lets you look at links from people you follow. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

FaceTime audio
FaceTime got the iOS 7 design treatment along with the rest of the core apps, but it also got one surprisingly cool new feature: FaceTime audio. Now, you can make a call over 4G or Wi-Fi without the video component, and the sound quality is fantastic.

The only thing I don't like about it is that, while you can switch to video in the middle of an audio call, you can't switch back to audio from a video call. Still, being able to avoid long distance (and international) charges with great sound quality is huge perk.

AirDrop
We all probably remember the Galaxy S4 commercial parody where the two Galaxy owners do the phone bump next to the people in line at the Apple store. The over-the-top Apple fanboys in line say something like, "Whoa, my iPhone can't do that!"

In iOS 7, not only can you quickly send photos, videos, and contacts using AirDrop, but just about anything from any app that has the share button (with the exception of music). The only problem is that it only works on iPhone 5 or later because of the chip architecture in the iPhone 4S. Still, I think it's a great new feature. Oh, and the other advantage? No bump required.

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