UPDATED 8.08am: Apple took the wraps off iOS 7 at WWDC this morning, revealing a dramatic new design that sheds six-year-old interface elements, and replaces them with a cleaner, more modern aesthetic. From top to bottom, the OS that powers the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch has been renovated for both looks and usability.
“It’s the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of iPhone,” Cook said.
Meet the new iOS
The entirety of the OS and the stock apps have been redesigned with a new, dramatically different flat look. The typography and icons have all been revamped.
There’s a sense of planes of data: Translucent textures reveal what’s in the background. Backgrounds change in a parallax effect when you move the phone: As you do so, things in the background move around ever so slightly behind frontmost elements. Animations receive an overhaul, too.
A new approach to multitasking shows large previews of your running apps that you can flip through. And a new panel, which you drag up from the bottom of the phone’s screen, reveals access to all sorts of quick controls for toggling settings.
Apple Senior Vice President Craig Federighi showed off redesigned apps including Weather, Calendar, Mail, Messages, and even Phone. Game Center loses its green felt entirely; wood is gone from iBooks. Even apps like Stocks and Compass have a new look with “precision and a sense of purpose,” Federighi said.
The new Weather app uses animated backgrounds that reflect the current weather conditions, and you can tap into the forecasts for more details than the app showed before. You can pinch for an overview of forecasts for multiple cities. The updated Calendar app looks very different, with some design elements seemingly inspired by apps like Calvetica and Fantastical. A new gesture lets you swipe from the left edge of the screen to go back one level in Messages and Mail. And you can slide across messages to move them or trash them – a la Mailbox.
Notification Center scores a new look too, along with tabs that filter notifications for ‘today’, ‘all’ and ‘missed’. And Notification Center is now available from the lock screen, too. Folders on iOS can now contain multiple screens’ worth of apps.
“Installing iOS 7 on your phone is like getting an entirely new phone, but one that you already know how to use,” Federighi said.
There are 10 brand new features in addition to the glossy new design that will make even an older iPhone feel like a new experience.
Control Center is sort of like Notification Center: You swipe up from the bottom of the device to access it. iOS finally adds a centralised hub with Control Center, You can turn on Airplane mode, toggle Bluetooth, turn on Do Not Disturb, enable lock rotation, access AirDrop and quickly access specific apps. You also use Control Center to adjust playing tracks, and more.
It also works from the lock screen. There’s a torch now, too, so if you wake up in the middle of the night and need to find something, you can grab your phone, Federighi said.
Control Center is a handy way to get to toggle features on and off at any time; a simple swipe up will let you turn on airplane mode, resume the song you were listening to, or pull up your calculator or camera without the hassle of diving into apps.
Apple announced that iOS 7 would include multitasking for all apps. As you access certain apps more frequently than others, iOS 7 will notice and let those apps poll for new data more currently. If there are other apps you check more often in the morning, iOS 7 will automatically grab data for those apps at the right time.
iOS 7 also adds ‘opportunistic updates’: If the phone is on and in use, and the network conditions are good, it pulls more background data. And push notifications can trigger background processing for an app, too.
A new approach to multitasking shows large previews of your running apps that you can flip through.
“Safari is the most popular mobile browser in the world,” Federighi said. The browser now includes a unified search field, akin to the location bar in desktop Safari, which lets you enter in both URLs and searches.
New views make browsing your tabs and frequently accessed sites more simple. Type-ahead suggestions offer URLs and google search results alike. The location bar recedes as you scroll through a page, offering more visual space to the webpage’s content. You can use that same new ‘swipe from left’ gesture to navigate back a page, too.
The Shared Links feature new in OS X Mavericks comes to iOS 7 as well: You can browse links shared socially by your friends.
The new tabs interface in Safari is eye popping, and you aren’t limited to just eight. You see large previews of your visited pages in a vertically scrolling list with interesting perspective. You can drag tabs to rearrange them, or flick them away when you don’t need them anymore.
Any app that supports the Share Sheet gains access to AirDrop: Your friends who are near you appear right there. When you tap to share, your friends can choose to accept the data you’re sending, and the appropriate app launches on their devices, too. It uses peer-to-peer Wi-Fi for maximum transfer speeds.
Camera & Photos
The Camera app is now “four cameras in one,” Federighi said. It’s a video camera, still camera, square camera, and panorama camera. And still photos can include filters, which can generate live, real-time previews.
The updated Photos app now offers Moments, which better organises your photographs without your needing to intervene. Like iPhoto’s events on the Mac, Moments can analyse your photos’ location data and dates to assemble your photos intelligently, and label them in more useful ways than an endless grid of photo thumbnails.
“You may not remember when you did it, but iOS does,” Federighi said.
The Photos app also gains access to iOS 7’s new filters, and it gains new sharing options, too. In addition to AirDrop support, you can share photos via iCloud. For the first time, other people can share into your Photo Stream, too, allowing friends and family members to mutually share photos together. And Photo Streams now support videos as well.
Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue talked about Siri. The voice-recognition service gets a redesign in keeping with iOS 7’s look – and it gets a new voice, too. Actually, it gets two new voices: a male and a female option. German and French get new voices, too.
Siri can control a lot more, too – “Play my last voicemail”, “Turn on Bluetooth”, “Increase my brightness” – and it can answer a lot more questions. Siri now integrates with Twitter, it directly incorporates Wikipedia, and web search results direct from – wait for it – Bing.
Another new feature Cue showed off was iOS in the Car, which integrates Siri, too. The feature would work with in-dash displays on many cars, and shows your apps. A slew of car manufacturers will offer integration with the feature starting in 2014, Cue said.
“It’s way easier to find apps than ever before,” Cue said. There are new sections for finding apps for kids, and a new option to browse “apps near me”. That way, if you’re at a specific spot where certain apps are popular, they’re easy to surface.
The App Store, like OS X Mavericks, now gains the ability to update apps automatically in the background.
Cue called the iOS 7 Music app “the best music player we have ever done”.
You don’t just see your content on your device; you also see all your iTunes in the Cloud purchases – not just for music, but for movies and TV shows too.
Cue also introduced iTunes Radio, a new way to browse music on your iOS device. “It’s built right into the Music app.”
The app includes a set of featured stations curated by Apple’s music editors, along with music that’s currently popular on Twitter. You can share stations with friends, or create new stations based on specific artists. You can skip ahead past songs you don’t want to hear, too.
In addition to featured stations, you can of course create your own as well. You can create stations by musical genre, or by a specific artist or song.
More features in spring
Apple only previewed 10 of iOS 7’s new features today, but more are coming when the update is released this southern spring, if the company’s last iOS 7 slide is any indication.
Potential features we might see include audio-only FaceTime over Wi-Fi, number and address blocking, notification sync, support for Smart Mailboxes and improved search in Mail, and activation lock, which requires your iCloud username and password after a remote wipe.
Check out the following links for more WWDC news, analysis and discussions:
Help: FAQ: everything you need to know about iOS 7
Blogs: 27 new iOS 7 features Apple didn’t talk about
News: Apple unveils iOS 7
Blogs: iOS 7: how its latest features stack up to Android
Blogs: Siri in iOS 7: Apple still playing catch up with Google, but moving aggressively
News: Siri gets smarter in iOS 7, ditches Google for search
Blogs: What Apple’s new AirDrop data sharing says about NFC
News: Apple’s law enforcement critics ‘appreciative’ of new activation lock
OS X Mavericks
Help: FAQ: everything you need to know about OS X Mavericks
News: Apple previews OS X ‘Mavericks’
News: iBooks to come to the Mac
News: Safari gets energy-efficient update in Mavericks
Features: Lab tested: Haswell MacBook Air benefits from faster graphics, flash storage
News: New MacBook Airs get better battery life & graphics performance
News: Apple’s Mac move could spur PCIe flash flurry in notebooks, desktops
News: Intel’s new Haswell chips may be hot, but not in a good way
Blogs: iOS 7, Mavericks and more: developers react to WWDC announcements
Blogs: Apple’s events move on, and so does the company
Blogs: Meet the new Apple, same as the old Apple
News: The Apple Design Award winners
News: Apple’s big-screen TV was a no-show at WWDC, but analysts say it’s coming soon
News: Anki’s AI cars show off App Store strength
News: Apple gets into the stream of things with iTunes Radio