iOS 7: 5 overlooked new features Apple is introducing

Apple fans have read all about the most exciting features of iOS 7, the soon-to-be-released mobile operating system for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Many of us are already familiar with the redesigned interface, the addition of AirDrop, the completely updated Notification Centre, as well as some much-needed changes to photos, multitasking, and the control centre.

But there are a few overlooked features of iOS 7 that I think are worth pointing out. They may not be as visually sexy as the new design, but they all drastically improve the overall experience of owning an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

While iOS 7 won't be available to the public until early September, developers (and anyone willing to pay $99 – that’s £65 – to sign up for a developer account) can download and install iOS 7 beta 6 now.

If you're content to wait, here are five overlooked features which I think may whet your appetite even more.

1. Do Not Track in Safari

The Do Not Track option for mobile Safari is a privacy and security feature new to iOS 7. It appears to be an updated and better version of iOS 6’s Private Browsing. (The desktop version of Safari has had Do Not Track for a while).

You can find it in iOS 7 by going to Settings > Safari, and looking under Privacy & Security. It essentially prevents websites, advertisers, and other services from tracking your online behaviour.

Note that iOS 7 has also made the Limit Ad Tracking option more visible – it now resides under Settings > Privacy > Advertising, rather than being hidden away under the About section. You can also reset your device's "Advertising Identifier" here – the Advertising Identifier being a "non-permanent, non-personal, device identifier that apps will use to give you more control over advertisers' ability to use tracking methods," according to Apple.

2. Blocking numbers for Phone, Messages, FaceTime

You can now block numbers for phone calls, text messages and iMessages, as well as FaceTime calls in one fell swoop. Go to Settings and pick either Messages or FaceTime – then select Blocked. You're able to add Contacts who should be blocked from all the apps and services just by adding them in either the Messages or FaceTime area of the Settings.

3. Auto close captioning and subtitles

I've really gotten into some of the accessibility features in iOS recently, and iOS 7 has even more. There's a new button for Subtitles and Captioning (Settings > General > Accessibility, and then look under Hearing) that, when enabled, will automatically opt you into using closed captioning and subtitles when they're available. It's a feature that's hard to test thoroughly until the public release of iOS 7, unfortunately, but I love its promise. It even has a setting that lets you change the style of the type (which crashed repeatedly in iOS 7 beta 6; again, we'll have to wait until the final release of iOS 7 to know whether the feature is truly reliable). It's an enticing option for the hard of hearing, as well as speakers of other languages and anyone who has an easier time understanding spoken dialogue when text is provided, too.

Finding apps that are popular near your current location seems like a gem of a feature for frequent travellers. Let's say you arrive in a city and you aren't sure what the best apps are for public transit maps or hiring taxis. The "popular near me" recommendations in the App Store should be able to pull up the most tried and trusted apps for locals. Of course, we'll have to see how this works in practice, but the traveller in me loves this idea.

5. Preset maps for walking or driving directions

The Maps app has a setting that lets you change the default preferred directions from driving to walking, which is great for people who tend to go places by foot. (Allow me to add, however, that I'm still not a fan of Apple's Map app, which on a recent cross-city trip suggested my destination was half a mile closer than it actually was. Gah).

For more on new iOS 7 features, see our article: A list of iOS 7 features Apple copied from other platforms.

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