iOS 7: release date, features and more

May 21, 2013 8:25 AM
Filed under Software

Apple's next iOS promises to be big.


iOS 7 is widely expected to herald a full redesign of Apple's operating system for the iPhone and iPad, led for the first time by British design guru Jonathan Ive.

While there's a lot we don't yet know about the next version of Apple's mobile operating system, here's what we do know, what's widely expected, and what rumours are suggesting. We'll be updating this story regularly with the latest news.

The bigger picture

The last edition, iOS 6, introduced turn-by-turn navigation and a handy do-not-disturb feature, but it also brought in the much maligned Maps - which was so bad Apple actually apologised.

While software head Scott Forstall departed soon after, the follow up, iOS 6.1, also introduced bugs that killed battery life, and in turn needed a patch of its own.

Apple will of course be hoping to do better with this release, but sources have told Bloomberg that Apple may push back iOS 7 rather than rush the release, and reports suggest development is already behind schedule, with developers pulled off other projects to help it along.

iOS 7 and skeuomorphism

Following the departure of Forstall, Jonathan Ive has been tasked with designing iOS 7, codenamed Innsbruck. The design philosophy appears to be chuck out the chintz: no more panelled wooden bookcases in iBooks, no more radio dials in the Podcast app... basically an end to skeuomorphism in all its desperately outdated forms.

Reports claim that iOS 7 will deliver a much flatter look that (whisper it) has echoes of Microsoft’s design philosophy for Windows 8: fewer shadows and highlights, with a cleaner overall look.

There's some merit to the idea: Ive famously dislikes skeuomorphism, with The Telegraph describing him as "wincing" over the style. Whether that will translate to a full redesign or subtle tweaking remains to be seen, however.

Other iOS 7 features

A Bloomberg report quoting unnamed Apple insiders said Ive is paying particular attention to the Calendar and Mail apps in iOS 7. These apps are receiving such a significant overhaul that they may not even be ready until next year, after the launch of iOS 7, according to the report.

Find out more

Apple is also reportedly addressing one of iOS’s current biggest failures: making notifications and messages more obvious. The current system of a drop-down notifications menu and numbered app icons has been left looking outdated by Android and its various manufacturer overlays, and Windows Phone’s Live Tiles.

One analyst said Apple executives suggested to her that iOS 7 would come with a "killer app" - they didn't tell Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty what it is, but speculated it could be a music streaming app, which would be well timed to steal some of the thunder from Google's recently unveiled music service.

iOS 7 release date

Apple hasn't revealed when iOS 7 will arrive, but it's widely expected to be on show in mid-June at the World Wide Developer's Conference. While Apple's Phil Schiller has promised the company will discuss "new versions of iOS and OS X" at the conference, it's likely only to be a developer preview, with the final release coming later.

Apple has previously released iOS version updates alongside new hardware, so it's likely that iOS 7 will arrive with the next iPhone, possibly this autumn.

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iOS 7: release date, features and more
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