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Apple's iOS 7 to give iPhone users easy access to WiFi controls, common actions

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It took more than five years, but Apple said Monday that iOS 7 will finally provide iPhone owners with access to toggle WiFi on and off, adjust screen brightness, and execute other common tasks without having to tediously drill-down into their device's settings panel.

Those seemingly trivial, but long-absent, capabilities form the basis of Control Center, a new feature in iOS 7 due for release later this fall. It promises to give iOS users quick access to the controls and apps they use most, letting them swipe up from the bottom of their device at any time — even from the Lock screen.

With existing versions of iOS, something as simple and common as shutting off WiFi typically requires around 4 clicks — first unlocking the phone, finding the Settings application, and then navigating to the WiFi controls. But iOS 7 promises to cut this number in half.

From the same panel, iPhone (iPad, and iPod touch) users will also be able to toggle Airplane mode settings, Bluetooth, and Do Not Disturb. Additionally, it will offer one click access to lock an iOS device's screen orientation or adjust its brightness.

Music playback controls, access to AirPlay-enabled devices, screen brightness controls, and screen orientation lock are among some of the other controls Apple says will come built into Control Center. The base of the panel also links to the Camera, Timer, and Calculator in addition to the first official Apple Flashlight — apps the company says users frequently need the most.

Based on the beta of iOS 7.0 shown off on Monday, Apple also appears to building a new feature into Control Center called AirDrop. Originally making its debut a couple of years ago in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, the WiFi service lets nearby Apple devices automatically discover one another and share files remotely without the need of a WiFi network, network configuration, or USB storage devices.