Update: We now have a proper complete exploration of iOS 7 for you to enjoy. Please head over to iOS 7 release date and everything you need to know to find out more.
Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, called iOS 7 the "biggest change to iOS," because it offers new features and a stunning interface. The revamped design notably boasts flatter-looking icons, thinner fonts, and a new control panel that slides up from bottom and serves as a quick-access Settings menu, among other things. For more information on the latest version of iOS 7, including when to download the official consumer release, check out Pocket-lint's full coverage.
iOS 7 is Apple's next operating system for its iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad devices and is expected to launch in September alongside a new iPhone, iPad, and probably iPod touch, but what can we expect of the new operating system, what do we want from it, and what are the rumours saying?
When is the iOS 7 release date?
Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, has already confirmed that we will be hearing plenty about iOS 7 at WWDC, the company's annual developer conference in San Francisco that kicks off on the 10 June.
Once the new OS is out in the open we expect developers to get it shortly after so they can start taking a closer look at how they can benefit from the new features and, if history serves us well, it will be released to the general public some time in September.
Will it come to my current iPhone or iPad?
Yes. That's not the official answer of course, but there is no reason to believe that it won't be available for the iPhone 5, iPad mini and iPad 4. If you've got an older device you might not get all the headline features, as your phone, tablet or MP3 player might not have the right bit of hardware. When iOS 6 launched it wasn't available for the first iPad, for example. Likewise Siri isn't available on the early iPhone's because the hardware inside just isn't powerful enough.
Is iOS 7 already being tested?
Yes. Pocket-lint has seen web traffic from devices running iOS 7. Those devices were being used in Cupertino, the home town of Apple's headquarters.
But don't just take our word for it. TechCrunch has also reported that Onswipe, a New York-based company that helps web publishers customise their websites for the tablet interface, has found large droves of users using iPhone's with iOS 7 installed. The users were based mainly in San Francisco and Apple's home town of Cupertino.
What do we know for definite about iOS 7?
We know, following Scott Forstall's departure in 2012, that the design of the newest version of Apple's operating system has been overseen by Jonathan Ive.
At a recent conference in California Tim Cook noted Ive was "really key" to doing the redesign.
What do we think we know about iOS7?
Black, white and flat all over
As new senior vice-president of industrial design, Ive has allegedly been implementing drastic and sweeping design changes to the operating system. It is now "black, white and flat all over" and should be the most stripped-back and simplified iOS yet.
According to reports, there is no new learning curve and several core fundamentals of iOS will remain the same, including the Lock and Home screens. Several of Apple's native apps will get new icons and redesigned tool bars, tab bars and other features in the update.
Ive dislikes something called skeuomorphism, or mimicking real life objects in digital design. iOS does a lot of this, using paper textures for iBooks or a leather effect for the calendar. Expect the majority of this to go with iOS 7.
Vimeo and Flickr
Rumours also point to Flickr and Vimeo being heavily integrated into the operating system in a similar way to Twitter and Facebook. Vimeo quick sharing is already supported in OS X Mountain Lion and the rumours are that the same sharing options will now be available in iOS 7.
Apple Air Drop support added
Apple is currently testing versions of iOS 7 internally which include the AirDrop WiFi-direct file sharing tool from the Mac reports 9to5Mac.
The feature already available in OS X Mountain Lion will let you share files between devices by creating an ad-hoc connection between the two, letting them share photos or contact details. AirDrop is expected to work between two iOS devices and potentially between an iOS device and a Mac.
Quoting sources familiar with the matter, both the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are reporting that Apple will launch a streaming radio service at WWDC and possibly for iOS 7 users only.
The feature is expected to take on Spotify and Pandora and still in the process of getting the go ahead from the music labels. An iRadio service doesn't need to be a part of iOS 7, but it would be a good way to convince people to update their software on the phone, and ensure that there is a steady but progressive take-up from Apple users rather than everyone overloading the system at once.
Apple's CEO has also suggested that the new iOS could be a lot more "open" than previous outings. Exactly what that means is anyone's guess at the moment, but some are hoping it means greater API support for developers and the chance for apps like Swiftkey to be installed on the operating system to improve the keyboard.
What other people want from iOS 7?
Goldman Sachs's team of equity analysts led by Bill Shope is hoping for all of the above and much more.
In an open letter to Apple published on Business Insider the company says Apple needs to add more to iOS that just a new lick of paint.
"A UI overhaul alone is unlikely to be enough to excite investors in our view, so we would hope to see some critical updates and enhancements for iOS services and the broader ecosystem. In particular, we believe iCloud and Siri are in need of an overhaul as competitors seem to be surpassing what were once novel enhancements to the iOS platform.
"In particular, we would hope to see that Apple has made it easier for third-party developers to leverage iCloud syncing, and believe it would be helpful to understand how many consumers are using iCloud’s paid services as opposed to just an update on the raw number of registered users. As for Siri, we had once assumed this would be a key enhancement for the platform and a powerful competitive advantage for Apple, but persistent technical glitches and limited integration with third-party services seem to be detracting from this feature’s promise. We believe updates to third-party support for Siri and performance improvements would be positive catalysts at the event."
Others have taken to YouTube to create their own concept videos of what they want Apple to do to the next mobile operating system for the iPhone.
What we want from Apple's iOS 7.
While it is still in the planning phase, however, can Apple learn anything from its two main competitors: Windows Phone by Microsoft and Android by Google? Here are 11 things we like from both operating systems that we would love to see in the new iOS 7.
1. Windows Phone People hub
The People hub is Microsoft's contacts app and is a really easy way of keeping track of what your friends, colleagues or family are up to. You can create groups of people to see quickly what they are doing on social networks without having to open each individual app like Facebook or Twitter. Android offers similar integration. Apple has all the right elements, iOS 7 just needs to pull them together.
2. Windows Phone contact cards
Another great Windows Phone feature is Microsoft's way of joining all the dots when it comes to social on your phone within the contacts card. We aren't just talking about linking the relevant emails and Facebook addresses to the right person, but the ability to dive within that contacts card and see a history of the emails you sent, the photos you shared with each other, and even the social messaging you've done. At the moment iOS 6 isn't very share friendly.
3. Android's Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth toggle buttons
Turing on or off Wi-Fi on Bluetooth can be a faff on iOS because you've got to dive into the settings to get things done. On Android it's usually simply a case of swiping down to switch stuff on and off to save battery, with both Motorola and Samsung making this really easy. For iOS 7 we would love to have the ability to place an icon on the homescreen that shortcuts to power settings.
4. Windows Phone and Sony Xperia Z power-saving modes
Both Android and Windows Phone offer power-saving mode to ensure you've got just enough juice in the phone to make that call for the taxi when you've missed the last train home. For iPhone all you've got is Flight Mode, which turns everything off.
5. Windows Phone's clean look
We believe Sir Jony Ive already has this one covered, but it's 2013. Apple needs to ditch the faux leather and yellow legal paper. Why is it yellow anyway? Windows Phone's interface is clean and sharp, and while Android does still have its "shame" moments, the Roboto typeface makes it a lot cleaner.
6. Android's multi-tasking
Single screen apps are great, and we aren't suggesting Apple should opt for the Samsung two apps per screen approach in iOS 7 - especially not on the iPhone 5 - but coming up with a better way to switch between apps other than double tapping on the home button would be welcomed by heavy app switchers. If you have ever tried to use Skype, email, Safari and maps all at the same time, you'll know what we mean.
7. Windows Phone smart tiles
Letting your app do something more with the icon than show you just a number when there is a notification is one of the great tricks of Windows Phone. Apple, yes please.
8. Windows Phone's interactive homepage
The Windows Phone ability to change the lock screen image on a daily basis is really nice, especially if you are bored of looking at the same pics of your kids day in day out. With great apps like Flickr, Instagram and others, Apple's iOS 7 could really benefit from this here to keep things fresh and interesting.
9. Android's quick sharing
Apple lets you share certain things with certain services, but only if it's approved them first. Android, on the other hand, lets you share virtually anything with anyone all by a simple button that can adapt to how you share. Whether it is SkyDrive, G Drive, Dropbox, Box.net, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, Android doesn't care. Just think of the sharing possibilities you would have if iOS 7 offered the same thing.
10. Android Widgets
If you've used Android, or even seen it, you'll know how Android users love their Google search bar, or that big clock with the weather on it. iOS doesn't have any of this, and while some will say it's a big waste of space, the idea of having widgets letting you see information for a specific service is welcomed by many. Just think, iOS 7 could have a big Siri button on screen all the time. Would that make you use it more?
11. Windows Phone and Android Notifications
Both operating systems offer a better notification method than iOS at the moment. Something that will hopefully change in iOS 7. Please.
What features would you like Apple to introduce in iOS 7? Let us know in the comments below.