Apple has shown off iOS 7 at the Worldwide Developers Conference, an operating system update for iPhone, iPad and other devices that sees vastly improved aesthetics and some new functions.
CEO Tim Cook described it as ‘the biggest change since the introduction of iPhone’, overhauling the appearance of the home screen, Game Center, along with messages, calendar, weather updates, music and more.
iOS 7 will be available as a free software update for iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, iPad mini and iPod touch (fifth generation) this autumn.
It is more translucent than previous iterations, boosting ‘depth and vitality’ and meaning that apps’ appearance are influenced by the wallpaper behind them.
App store updates are no more with iOS 7, which will update all apps in the background as and when you have internet connection.
Multi-tasking has been addressed too, with Apple doing away with the bottom bar and allowing you to switch between open apps more easily and with more fluid motion.
Control center gets a new look meanwhile with more music-related buttons, which senior vice-president of software engineering Craig Federighi demonstrated by playing a blast of Vampire Weekend.
Apple have vowed to fix users’ increasingly distended camera rolls by introducing better categorisation of photos along with the ability to share images with friends on iCloud.
Among the completely new features announced was ‘iOS in the Car’, which will allow drivers to make calls and play music not just hands-free but ‘eyes-free’, using enhanced Siri voice-activation software.
There is also a new Find My iPhone Activation Lock, Night Mode in Maps that responds to ambient light when you use it in the dark, Notification sync, so when you dismiss a notification on one device it is dismissed on all of your devices and Phone, FaceTime and Messages blocking to prevent specific people from being able to contact you.
‘iOS 7 is the most significant iOS update since the original iPhone,’ said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. ‘To create it, we brought together a team with a broad range of expertise from design to engineering. With what we’ve been able to achieve together, we see iOS 7 as an exciting new beginning.’
‘There is a profound and enduring beauty in simplicity, in clarity, in efficiency. True simplicity is derived from so much more than just the absence of clutter and ornamentation—it’s about bringing order to complexity,’ said Jony Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of Design. ‘iOS 7 is a clear representation of these goals. It has a whole new structure that is coherent and applied across the entire system.’
Other announcements at WWDC included iTunes Radio, a new, tiny, cylindrical Mac Pro and new Macbook operating system OS X Mavericks (so named as they couldn’t think of any more types of cat).
Commenting on the new Apple software, Stuart Chapman, research manager at The Big Picture Design Research, said: ‘iOS7 is hugely significant for Apple. It’s their biggest UI redesign ever – one which they need to leapfrog the competitors that have overtaken them both visually and in functionality terms.
‘But the revolution needs to be balanced with familiarity; iOS users rely heavily on their devices’ functionality so there’s a need for the software to remain as intuitive as ever – in software, frustration kills brand affinity.
‘iOS7′s overhaul represents a big roll of the dice. It is the first major act of Apple’s British design chief Sir Jonathan Ive in software, and a glimpse of his new vision for Apple’s design future. Have they successfully simplified without becoming plain? Have they achieved elegance without becoming esoteric? Have they satiated their faithful without alienating the mass market?
‘Time will tell whether they got it right or not.’
Here are a few more iOS 7 pictures and stills from Monday’s conference: