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What iOS 7 Says About New Media (And Its Consumers)

iOS 7 running on an iPhone 5

Somehow, Apple causes a frenzy every time the company introduces a new product, and its newest mobile operating system, iOS 7, is no exception to the rule.

Earlier this month, Apple announced the forthcoming iOS 7 at its developers conference in San Francisco. The new system has a pretty striking visual. I didn’t think Apple products could look cleaner or simpler, but enough about its aesthetic.

Here are some conclusions I think journalists can draw from iOS 7’s features and functionality:

Reporters are even better equipped to make their iPhones a “one stop shop” 

Gone are the days when writers had to lug around reporter’s notebooks, laptops and tape recorders. At a moment’s notice, you might have to get up and go with only your iPhone in your bag.

Some pretty fascinating experiments have been done on reporting solely with an iPhone in the past, and 10,000 Words’ Lauren Rabaino wrote a piece on the concept a couple years back. It doesn’t seem possible, but now iReporting (to use a CNN-coined phrase) will be a more streamlined process thanks to iOS 7.

AirDrop: Think of this content-sharing tool sort of like Dropbox, only it runs on iOS 7 instead of an app. You’ve got to get your interview notes to the intern for transcription, stat, or a photo back to the newsroom. AirDrop lets you send it quickly (with a WiFi connection) to any of your phone contacts or anyone else running iOS 7, giving them the option to save the content. If it’s visual media and the recipient uses the Cloud, the photo will automatically be on their computer as well as their phone.

Camera filters: That’s right—Instagram photojournalism has some competition now. iOS 7 has filters built in to the camera and a “square” photo option. This is pretty good news for the times you’ve got a poor internet connection and you can’t get your photo doctoring apps to load.

 

Social media (particularly Twitter) has revolutionized the way we ascertain and relay narratives

The new Siri will be able to consult Google, Bing, Wikipedia and… Twitter. Let’s say you were curious about what was happening on the Texas Senate floor during the Wendy Davis filibuster—Apple says you can ask Siri about topics that users are tweeting (e.g. asking Siri, “What’s Wendy Davis saying?”). It’s not entirely clear if Siri serves up results including hashtags associated with your question or just Twitter handles.

Regardless, I see this as an efficient way to gather intel via Twitter both as a reporter and news junkie, plus it’s hands-free.

 

News consumers want to be connected on every device they’ve got

Also in Apple’s presentation, there was talk of a major push notification overhaul via OS X (“Mavericks”), the newest desktop operating system, where you can potentially receive alerts from news organizations on your desktop as well as your phone. The kicker: they’re promising that you don’t have to have a news app to get a notification—if you select it as an option, websites can send news alerts.

Apple says it this way: “when you choose to receive updates from a website, your breaking news, sports scores, auction alerts, and more appear as notifications—even when Safari isn’t running.”

Nieman Journalism Lab’s Joshua Benton does a great job of breaking this down further here and here. This could be a game-changer in the realm of breaking news. And it gives media outlets another opportunity to connect with readers. Benton suggests that the push notification enhancements, while subtle, may pave the way for more customizable news delivery (e.g. choosing what kind of push notifications you want from each news source). This will be one for journalists and readers to watch.

iOS 7 will be available to iPhone users in the fall.

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