Four Cool New iOS 7 Features—and One That Could Disappoint

Following Apple's WWDC 2013 announcements, CIO.com blogger James A. Martin found two new iOS features he can't wait for; two he's excited about but also a bit skeptical of; and another that's plain old late to the party.

The wait is over for Apple’s big WWDC 2013 blow-out announcements. On Monday, Tim Cook and company treated developers and media to an Apple-palooza of hardware, Mac software and iOS 7 news.

Most of us have to wait a few months to get our hands on iOS 7. But here’s a quick breakdown of what I'm most excited about—and the things I’m not so sure of.

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I Can't Wait

* Activation Lock. It’s no secret that iPhones and iPads are prime targets for thieves. A new feature, Activation Lock, sounds like it could be a magic "kill switch" that locks Bad Guy out of your phone. Turning off the Find My iPhone features on an iOS 7 device or erasing it requires an Apple ID and password. It sounds like a simple solution to a big problem. But why did it take so long? And how quickly will clever thieves find a workaround?

* iCloud Keychain will be built into the Safari browser in Mac OS X Mavericks, Apple's next desktop OS. Like 1Password, LastPass and other services, Keychain will help create and store more complex website passwords and sync them across Mac and iOS devices. It will store credit-card numbers and other sensitive info, too. I’m really looking forward to this integrated, easy way to store passwords on my Macs, iPhone and iPads.

I wonder, though, what if you store your Apple ID and password in iCloud Keychain, someone steals your iPhone and then figures out how to crack your Keychain? They’d then be able to turn off Find My iPhone. 

Let's Wait-and-See

* iTunes Radio sounds cool. And if you pay for the iTunes Match service ($25/year), you can listen to it without ads. iTunes Radio will also be integrated with Twitter’s new music service, so it will highlight tunes trending on Twitter. But will iTunes Radio really be that different than my favorite music subscription service, Pandora? My initial impression: Not really, no. I also want to continue to support Pandora. It’s a great service, and I’d hate to see it wither because of Apple and Google, which also recently unveiled a subscription music service.

* Maps is coming to Mac OS X. You’ll soon be able to get driving directions on your Mac and sync them to Maps on your iOS device. Maps will be integrated with the new Calendar app on iOS 7, to provide estimated times of arrival for appointments. Sounds great, but I hope Apple continues to improve Maps, because right now, Google Maps (despite its shortcomings) is still my go-to app for GPS guidance.

I'm Not Sure It Will be Worth the Wait

* iWork in iCloud will let you fully edit Pages, Keynote and Numbers documents in a browser, in addition to the standalone apps for Mac OS and iOS. The idea that you’ll be able to edit Apple productivity docs in a Windows browser is sweetly subversive.

But Apple is arriving late to the party. For one thing, Apple’s iWork suite of productivity apps for the Mac hasn’t been updated in four years—an eternity in the tech world. Also, while there’s plenty to admire about Apple’s iWork apps, they still don’t have as many useful features as Microsoft Office apps. And Apple didn’t say anything during WWDC about real-time collaboration features like the ones in Google Apps and Microsoft Office in the cloud.

Nothing Apple announced at WWDC 2013 is wildly innovative. But I’m still really looking forward to iOS 7. It will bring plenty of cool new features to my iPhone and iPad, and even if all it does is help curb iOS device snatchings, it will represent a big step in the right direction. 

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