Ina Fried

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Apple’s Changes With iOS 7 Are More Than Skin-Deep

The most striking things about iOS 7 are the rather dramatic changes that Apple has made to the visual appearance of the software that powers the iPhone and iPad.

But iOS 7 is a lot more than just a makeover. While Apple went into detail on roughly a dozen new features of iOS 7, there is a long list of changes big and small that will be part of the new phone operating system when it ships this fall.

The first category of additional changes: Things that just didn’t make the keynote cut.

Apple showed two slides worth of these at WWDC on Monday, with one detailing consumer features and the other going into new options for developers.

On the consumer side, that means things such as better mail search and improved download of TV shows. Businesses will also get some key improvements, such as better support for virtual private networks, and security and manageability enhancements.

For developers, Apple added a bunch of new “hooks” into the operating system, including the ability to have content download in the background, the ability to include directions from Apple Maps into other apps, and improved video capture abilities.

Still, some developers were disappointed by what didn’t make the list.

TouchType, maker of the SwiftKey software keyboard, had been hoping Apple would open up its keyboard to third-party alternatives. For now, though, that dream would appear to be on hold.

“Obviously we’re disappointed, but we hope that Apple take a more open approach to the keyboard in future,” TouchType Chief Marketing Officer Joe Braidwood said in an email on Monday.

Braidwood had been hoping that the comments about increasing openness that Tim Cook made at D11 last month would lead to a more open keyboard.

The second category of new features is the things that Apple didn’t talk about at all on Monday. The company often saves a thing or two to reveal closer to when customers can actually get their hands on the software. Often these involve partnerships with other companies or features tied to new hardware, such as whatever new iPhone Apple has up its sleeve.

As a result, it will probably be closer to the fall release of iOS 7 that we’ll really be able to evaluate whether Apple’s changes are enough to retain iPhone customers as well as that elusive, hard-to-define “cool factor.”

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