The New iPhone Software Just Came Out. Here's the Most Obvious Reason to Upgrade.

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Sept. 18 2013 1:11 PM

The New iPhone Software Just Came Out. Here's the Most Obvious Reason to Upgrade.

John McCain is going to find his iPhone a little less annoying from now on.
John McCain is going to find his iPhone a little less annoying from now on.

Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Moments ago, Apple released iOS 7, a fully redesigned version of the software that powers the iPhone and the iPad. You can download it now by going to "settings," then "general," then "software update." Or you can wait until tonight or tomorrow to avoid the rush. Either way, it's not a bad idea to back up your data first.

As my Slate colleague Farhad Manjoo pointed out in June, the new interface is likely to throw a lot of users for a loop. But it does come with a slew of new and rejiggered features. Some are superficial, like "dynamic wallpapers" that move around as you tilt your device. Others mimic popular features of various third-party apps, like iTunes Radio (a Pandora rival) and the new photo filters for the iOS camera (à la Instagram). And some are functional, like a new Control Center that offers easy access to a few key settings.

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In this last category is perhaps the one iOS 7 feature that is practically certain to make users' lives just a little easier: automatic app updating. The need to manually update apps in every previous edition of iOS was so vexing that even Sen. John McCain took Tim Cook to task for it in a Congressional hearing. "What I really wanted to ask is why the hell I have to keep updating the apps on my iPhone all the time and why you don't fix that," McCain grumbled. Cook's response: "Sir, we're trying to make them better all the time." Better slow than never. Upgrade to iOS 7, and you'll find yourself spending a lot less time upgrading things on your phone or tablet from now on.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

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