Boasting sales of 365 million mobile devices, Apple today revealed iOS 7, their latest mobile software build.
"The team at Apple has been working incredibly hard on the latest version of iOS, and today it's a great thrill to announce iOS 7" said CEO Tim Cook.
"iOS 7 is the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of iPhone. It's packed with amazing new features and a stunning new user interface."
Featuring all new typography and redesigned icons, it's got Jony Ive written all over it, who made it clear he would be removing many elements of skeuomorphism after taking over the head software role from Scot Forstall.
Translucent effects feature heavily, with a home screen that reacts in a 3D way to a tilting phone, letting you see "behind" each icon.
Improved multitasking looks set to feature, letting you jump between apps in a similar fashion to fullscreen apps on a Mac OS X machine, while a new lockscreen features an upwards - rather than sidewards - swiping gesture.
All core Apple apps get a new look, refined and "flat" compared to older versions. Even the wireless mobile signal bar gets updated, now represented by 5 dots rather than rising bars.
Folders can now spread over multiple pages, giving clean-freaks increased control over the layout of their apps.
iOS 7: The key new features
Control Center is accessed from a swipe up from the bottom of the screen and gives quick access to controls including Wi-Fi, brightness and Airplane mode, as well as enabling AirPlay among others. It's much like many Android reskinning's settings bars, accessed from downward swipes on those devices, but here complete with Apple's refined design sensibilities, finished with a translucent look.
Multitasking across all apps will be introduced, with the OS monitoring you usage habits and making sure they're ready to go as soon as you fire your phone up. Twitter and Facebook feeds for instance, will be automatically updated when firing your phone up. Double clicking the Home button brings up a pane-style view of each app, not unlike webOS cards, unlocking multitasking capabilities.
Safari now features a "Smart" search field that brings up favourites when its tapped, as well as featuring iCloud Keychain integration for accessing passwords and logins automatically. That search filed is smart like Chrome's Omnitoolbar too, pulling in pages from bookmarks, history and previous searches too. Tabs are no longer limited to just 8 either, though Apple didn't give a specific figure.
AirDrop will allow users to share photos wirelessly by tapping on faces of pals in your snaps. Photos in will also be subject to new integrated filters if you so desire, while photo sets will be organised into "Moments" categorised by date and location. Here's hoping Apple's Maps tech is up to the task. iCloud Photo Streams can now also have multiple editors, letting you and your pals put together photo albums together.
Siri now comes with a whole new female voice, and the option of a male voice in the US. French and German languages are now supported by the voice-activated assistant, with Twitter, Wikipedia and Bing services integrated into what it's commands can control and search. Hands-free Siri integration will also be integrated into dashboard screens of 16 major automotive manufacturers.
New improved App Store
A new version of the App Store will be introduced that automatically updates apps as a new version becomes available, as well as showing you the most popular apps of fellow iOS users in your local vicinity.
Apple's long-awaited music streaming service, iTunes Radio, also made an appearance. Integrated directly into the music player app as a "music discovery service", it makes use of a list of featured stations that you can swipe though. Tapping the station name plays it, and stations seem to be based around individual artists as well as genres and curated offerings.
Tapping a star next to a track lets the service know to play more songs that are similar, add it to an iTunes download wishlist, or remove the song from ever playing on iTunes Radio ever again. The "Nickleback button" if you like.
Free with ads, it's completely free to iTunes Match subscribers, coming totally ad-free to those folks. No separate subscription plan then will give Apple a big boosts here, though there was no word of offline playlists either, suggesting the company are still trying to get people to splash the cash on tune downloads through iTunes. Rolling out in the US first, it'll be available through iPhone, iPod touch and iPad and also works in iTunes on the Mac and AppleTV.
A new security feature, Activation Lock will prevent theives from re-activating a device is it's been wiped remotely with the Find My Phone feature. A user will need to sign in again with their Apple ID in order for the phone to be useable again. Thieves will be stealing a brick, in other words, making for a great deterrent.
iOS 7 Availability
Developers will be able to get their hands on a beta version of iOS 7 from today, with an iPad beta rolling out in the coming weeks. The final version available to all iPod touch, iPhone and iPad users will be available "from the fall". That's the Autumn for UK readers, making a September/October launch date likely in time for a new iPhone release. However, only more recent devices will be supported, as follows: iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, iPad mini and the 5th gen iPod touch.
"This major effort is only possible because of the incredible collaboration between Jony and his amazing design team and Craig and his amazing engineering team," said an obviously pleased Cook, with iOS 7 enjoying the most applause from the collected developers at the event.
"Our goal at Apple is to make amazing products that our customers love. Really great products that enrich peoples' lives. The words you saw at the beginning of the show are more than just words to us. They are the values we live by. They drive us. You've seen them reflected in our products over the years. You'll continue to see them reflected in the products we make in the future."
So what do you think of the new iOS 7 update? Has Jony Ive nailed it? We're looking forward to getting our hands on the new mobile OS, and will bring you our full verdict once we've got our hands on it!