WWDC 2013: Apple announces iOS 7
Apple executives are live on stage at WWDC 2013 in California, where they just unveiled iOS 7.
Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, announced iOS 7 as the "biggest change to iOS", because it offers new features and a stunning interface. The latest version of iOS 7 is available for the iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, and the fifth-generation iPod touch. The beta download for developers is live for the iPhone today, but the official consumer release is coming this autumn.
Apple's iOS 7 features a new colour scheme to "create a sense of depth and vitality". The icons are flat with bright new colours, and apps like Game Center have removed felt and wood elements and added a black-and-white look with coloured accents. The revamped design also boasts thinner fonts.
The system's default apps - such as an updated weather app that packs new animations - also display iOS 7's new design. The icons specifically boast a new palette of colours, while the calendar, phone, messages, Game Center, etc, have each stripped their skeuomorphic elements and now feature flat designs. In addition, Apple's signal bars now show dots instead of bars.
Control Center and Upgrades
The latest version of iOS offers a new control panel that slides up from bottom and serves as a quick-access Settings menu. Control Center, Apple's name for the new quick-access menu, notably lets users toggle between airplane mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and more.
Some additional iOS 7 features include card-based multitasking, updated Folders, enhanced Notification Center and AirDrop.
AirDrop lets users share content like photos with other iOS users through the Control Center, while Folders, which were previously limited to holding just a few apps, now support hundreds of apps. The Notification Center upgrade gives users better control over how many notifications they can view, as well as the ability to view Notification Center from the lock screen.
Apple said the Safari mobile browser now sports improved full-screen browsing, gesture navigation, a tab overview, parental controls, iCloud keychain integration, and a smart search field. With this field, there's a one-tap access to favourites. Other new iOS 7 features include FaceTime audio calls over Wi-Fi, improved search in Mail and the ability to block phone calls, FaceTime calls and messages.
The camera app also has an enhanced interface and new filters. Apple further updated its Photos app to complement the improved camera, and it chiefly features previews of images, which users can access with a sliding-finger gesture, and iCloud sharing.
As for Siri in iOS 7, the service has a "gorgeous" new interface and now offers new voices in either female or male for English, French or German. Siri can also control functions like Bluetooth and search sites like Twitter, Bing and Wikipedia. Apple's iOS 7 further improved in-car functionality. Apple said users could have iOS on-screen in more cars in 2014, where they can control the system with their voice due to Siri integration. Functions include the ability to make calls, get messages, and more.
The App Store has the same black and white look in many of the updated apps in iOS 7, but it is now easier to find apps. "Apps Near Me" allows users to find the apps in use nearby, and there are new discovery options for children. The App Store will update apps automatically in the background without affecting battery life.
Lastly, Apple's music player now features a flat user interface and the ability to turn the app sideways to reveal albums. The music app now includes iTunes Music, Apple's new streaming music service. iTunes Radio is free, ad-supported and available on iOS, Apple TV and the Mac. Users can create radio stations based on a single track and then start streaming tracks. Apple will offer featured stations and provide the ability to create stations.
Apple further announced that 600 million iOS devices have sold to date. The company's five-year-old App Store also has 900,000 apps with over 50 billion downloads. Apple has paid $10 billion to developers, which is three times more than any competing platform.
In the months leading up to Apple's 24th World Wide Developers Conference, Cook had already confirmed that Jonathan Ive was "really key" to the new iOS. As the senior vice-president of industrial design, Ive was allegedly implementing drastic and sweeping design changes to the operating system. The new design was rumoured to include a "black, white and flat all over" look, while several core fundamentals of iOS would remain the same.
WWDC is a time for surprises and the usual refreshes. The annual conference is generally for software developers and the latest improvements to iOS and OSX, but Apple also has a history of launching hardware updates just to make things more exciting.
Much of the speculation surrounding plans for this year's conference has been guesswork primarily. However, Apple's patterns at previous conferences combined with circulating reports have suggested a redesigned iOS 7, new "iRadio" service, updated OS X and MacBook refresh would unveil.