At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple announced a new -- and very different -- iOS. The new version of the mobile operating system, iOS 7, will bring many changes to the iPhone and iPad user experience when it's released this fall -- not least in the area of social networking. In fact, with each new release iOS is becoming more and more like a social network itself.
Here are five ways that iOS 7 will change social.
1. Photos/Video Get Their Due
It's clear that photos and videos are what people want to engage with most on social networks (see, for example, the rapid rise in the use of Vine), and Apple has put photos front and center in the new iOS. Users will be able to easily access all shooting formats, including still, video, panorama and -- seemingly made for conveniently effective social posting -- square. Indeed, with iCloud Photo Sharing, which lets users create a shared photo stream, the iOS platform becomes something of a social network itself. A new Activity view lets users see updates from shared streams in one place.
[ Even with 200 new features, iOS 7 isn't perfect. See Apple iOS 7: What's Missing. ]
2. Users Can Easily Access Twitter Links
In the Safari browser, the Shared Links feature will let users see all the URLs in their Twitter timelines, who posted them and what they had to say about them. This feature is just one example of the deeper integration of Twitter in iOS.
3. Siri Gets Smarter with Twitter
Speaking of deeper Twitter integration (and speaking of speaking), Siri gets smarter in iOS 7 with the ability to show related tweets when users ask "her" (and now "him") about certain topics.
4. iCloud Keychain May Reduce Dependence on Social Sign-on
More and more sites are offering sign-on via social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Despite some fears about the security and privacy implications of social login, many people take advantage because it's easier than remembering a bunch of user names and passwords. Users can now use iCloud Keychain, which remembers account names, passwords and even credit card numbers. iCloud Keychain stores this info in iCloud, and the info is synced across trusted iOS-based devices. It uses 256-bit AES encryption and does not store credit card security codes.
Will iCloud Keychain eliminate all fears about storing this type of data? Probably not, but users may feel more comfortable counting on Apple than on, say, Facebook, with their sensitive data. (Bonus: Safari can also now be used to generate strong passwords anytime you register for a new site, service and so on.)
5. iTunes Killed The Internet Radio Stars
Hear that? It's the socially minded Spotify, Pandora, et al., shaking in their respective boots. iTunes Radio, Apple's new streaming media service, will enable users to create custom radio stations while discovering new music and integrate with social networks. Sound familiar? What's different is iTunes' mega-gunga library, not to mention that an ad-less version of iTunes Radio will be free to iTune Match subscribers. (iTunes-only users will still get ads.) You may soon see on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks -- not to mention on your mobile devices -- what your friends and those you are following are listening to on iTunes radio.
Are you looking forward to the new iOS 7? Do you see any downsides to the new features? Please let us know in the comments section below.
Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.