12 New and Hidden Settings in iOS 7

Apple's new mobile operating system, iOS 7, includes a lot of obvious changes, perhaps the most since iOS itself was released (though it would be reasonable to argue that the addition of the App Store was the biggest change to date, but I digress).

We've already detailed a lot of the big changes but, as always, Apple baked in a lot of unmentioned changes, as well, and many of those are quite significant, depending on how you use your iPhone or iPad. We've put together our 12 favorites for you here today.

Dynamic Type

One new feature of iOS 7 I immediately wanted to use was Dynamic Type. Available from iOS 7's Settings App > General > Text Size, this slider allows you to control the relative text size across any apps that support it. All of Apple's apps will do so, of course, and third parties have had access to the necessary developer tools to implement this since WWDC in June of this year.

What Dynamic Text means is that if you prefer text bigger or smaller in general, you need only set it once and your apps will instantly adopt your settings, system-wide.

Feel like your inbox is too large? Dynamic text will shrink it down for you.

Frequent Locations

Buried inside Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services is a new option labeled "Frequent Locations," a feature that allows your iPhone to remember where you've been. Go here and you'll see something that might make you shiver with Big Brother-y chills, or it might make you think, "hey, that's cool. I wonder what benefit that will provide me down the road?"

Either way, it's good to know, so...we tell you. There are settings to fit both classes of aforementioned users.

Do you like the idea of your iPhone remembering where you've been?

Dynamic Wallpaper

Apple likes to bake in subtle changes with the potential for them to grow into larger features, and I believe they've done so with what they're calling "Dynamic Wallpaper." iOS 7 features seven different-colored themes on a background of floating bubbles. The colors, not surprisingly, match the green, yellow, blue and red (pink?) of the iPhone 5c, plus some grey shades and one purple/blue color mashup. I'm not convinced these (initial?) set of wallpapers look all that great, but the concept is intriguing. Will developers (or users) be able to design their own animated wallpaper down the road? This will be one to watch (and hey, perhaps you'll find one you like to use now, too!).

Now you can have an animated background on your home screen or lock screen

Better Do Not Disturb Settings

If you have ever had iOS's Do Not Disturb set only to have an iMessage chime just because your phone was awake while you checked email, fret no more. You can now configure whether DnD works only when the device is locked or all the time. Yet another example of a minor, incremental change that will make a huge difference for some of us.

Now you can ensure Do Not Disturb means you don't disturb others, too.

Blocked Callers

Answering calls from users to block calls (and texts!) from spammers, Apple has finally added a global blocklist into iOS. Accessible in the Phone, Messages, and Facetime sections of the Settings app, iOS 7's new "Blocked" list does just what it says: ensures that you won't be notified of any calls or texts from anyone listed here.

The rub is that if you want to block a number (or email address, for Facetime calls) that hasn't called you yet, you must first associat it with a contact. That's easy if it's an ex-liontamer that you no longer wish to work with but previously had in your Contacts, but gets a little trickier if it's some random spammer.

Our advice: create a single contact entry for all spam numbers, and then simply add any new numbers to it. Those new numbers won't be automatically added to the block list (unfortunately), but if you simply go and re-add that contact to your block list, it will add all the numbers associated with it.

Numbers that have called you, though, can be blocked directly from the "Recents" list in the Phone app. Just click the circled "i", scroll down, and select "Block this Caller."

Add numbers to your Blocked list to ensure they never bother you again

Multiple "From" Address Management

Like you can on the Mac, iOS has long allowed you to set multiple "From" addresses for IMAP and POP accounts in Mail. But it's never worked well, and never really felt officially supported. Heck, it required a comma to make it work and when typing in the appropriate field, the keyboard would have no comma available! Still, it's always worked, and a lot of us (and a lot of you) rely on it. Good news for all of us: in iOS 7 this feature is made official and gets first-class-citizen treatment in the UI. 

Simply visit Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > [your iCloud, POP or IMAP account] and navigate to the screen with the "Email" field on it by tapping again into your account. When you tap on the "Email" field, you're now shown a list that allows you to edit, re-arrange, and even highlight a single address to be used by default. Rejoice!

iOS 7 includes a new "From" address editor

Users wanting to do this with Gmail addresses will need to disable the email portion of those accounts and reconfigure them as straight IMAP accounts. A small price to pay for this user.

Explicit Computer Trust

This isn't a setting you'll need to find: it will find you. The first time you connect your iOS 7 device to a computer the device itself will confirm that you wish to share your settings and data with the new computer. This trust was implicit in the past, but these days Apple seems to agree that we shall never presume a trust relationship. That's a good thing.

 iOS 7 only trusts computers that you specifically approve

Background App Refresh

One of the newly-touted features of iOS 7 is the ability for apps to work together with the OS on coalescing their updates. This is a great thing and should vastly improve network efficiency as well as battery life. Still, there may be some apps which request to have a "network pit stop" a little too often, and Apple gives you, the user, the ability to disable them on an app-by-app basis. Navigate to Settings > General > Background App Refresh to manage at will.

iOS 7 provides for granular settings of Background App Refresh

Burst Mode for Photos

iOS 7's camera includes a new "Burst Mode" wherein you simply hold down the shutter button and your iPhone will take multiple pictures in rapid succession until you let off the shutter. This can be quite handy for catching just the right shot. However, for those of you that had learned to stabilize your camera by holding down the shutter button instead of tapping it, this can result in a lot of unexpected pictures. This feature appears to be enabled full-time whether you want it or not, so we'll all need to simply learn to adapt. Or delete. A lot.

Hold down iOS 7's shuter button and you'll get a lot of pics... whether you want them or not!

Take Square Pictures

iOS 7's camera has a whole new interface that will become immediately apparent the first time you launch the camera. One of the new picture modes is the ability to take square pictures regardless of whether you're holding your iPhone in portrait or landscape orientations. This can be handy for several purposes, including future Instagram sharing. To enable this (and to switch between regular, square, video, and panoramic shooting modes), simply slide the selector available beneath the viewer window.

Slide iOS 7's selector to choose the camera mode

Photo Filters add Mojo

Apple has taken inspiration from many popular photo apps by incorporating live filters right into the camera. As you can see for yourself, Apple's built-in filters provide some subtle (and not-so-subtle) effects which you can preview in real-time before you snap your shot.

Check out Apple's filters to add some style and personality to your photos


This one's not entirely hidden, but... we wanted to share it nonetheless. AirDrop allows you to share data (think photos, contacts, videos) wirelessly with other nearby iPhone users. You enable it by swiping up from the bottom of the screen to activate the Control Center. Once it's on, then you'll show up as a destination for other local iPhones and iPads. This does not require you both to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network, but doesn't yet have interoperability with Macs, only other iOS users. Hopefully Mavericks will change that.

Enable AirDrop to make it easy for other iOS users to send you data


Find something we didn't list here? Mention it in the comments and, hey, who knows? Maybe we'll include it in a follow-up article, too!