Apple has unveiled iOS 7, a completely revamped version of its mobile operating system.
The new OS is now available to developers in beta for iPhone, and for the iPad in the coming weeks. It will see a general release this autumn for iPhone 4 and up, iPad 2 and later, the iPad mini, and the fifth-generation iPod touch.
The update is "the biggest change to iOS since the iPhone," Apple CEO Tim Cook said at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC).
In a demo video, design chief Jony Ive said iOS 7 is unobtrusive, completely new but also familiar.
Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, showed off a demo of iOS 7, which he said includes a "liveliness" that moves with you and tracks your motion, enabling you to "see behind the icons."
"Installing iOS 7 on your phone is like getting an entirely new phone, but one that you already know how to use [and that is] beautiful and more functional," Federighi said.
Messages replaces the gray background with a white one and flatter messages rather than the bubbled look with which users are familiar. Swipe left for a list of older messages. Everything across iOS 7 is also in a slimmer font.
The notification screen is accessible from the lock screen, Federighi said. But iOS 7 also adds "Control center," which - when swiping up from the bottom - provides quick access to features like airplane mode, brightness, camera, and flashlight.
Federighi also promised multi-tasking for all apps with great battery life. Double tap and scroll through open apps. Elsewhere, there's a revamped Safari with carousel-like tab scrolling. Just flick to the left to close out a tab.
Federighi showed off Air Drop, which is not-quite NFC for sharing with other iOS users. For apps that support it, you can find friends who are nearby and share apps or other items with one tap. They will receive a notification to accept or decline. In a dig at Samsung's NFC capabilities, Federighi said there will "no need to wander around the room bumping your phone with others," though Air Drop will only work over Wi-Fi. It will be supported on iPhone 5, the 4th-gen iPad, iPad mini, and 5th-gen iPod touch.
Apple said the camera on iOS 7 is "four cameras in one," with filters and revamped sharing, which allows you to share photos directly into someone's photo stream, among other things. iCloud photo sharing will also support video sharing.
Siri will be getting a makeover in iOS 7 - a voice makeover, that is, said Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. Siri sounds slightly less robotic, while there is an option for a male voice, as well as enhancements to the French and German version of Siri, with more to come.
Cue said Siri is also a "lot smarter." She (or he) knows how to control more of your devices - say "play my last voicemail" or "increase my brightness," for example. Apple has also integrated more services, like Twitter, Wikipedia, and Bing search. Say goodbye to endless app update reminders, meanwhile: with iOS 7, the App Store updates your apps automatically.
As expected, Cue also showed off iTunes Radio, which is built right into the Music app. It looks much like Pandora, with featured songs and channels, which you can skip. It's built in iOS 7 for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, as well as iTunes on the Mac and PC and Apple TV. It's free with ads, and ad-free for iTunes Match subscribers. The rollout will begin in the US and expand beyond that.
iOS 7 also includes high-quality audio calls over Wi-Fi on any iOS device via FaceTime audio and notification sync across devices, Federighi said. On the security front, Federighi said thieves who try to turn off Find My iPhone or wipe a phone won't be able to re-activate it without your iCloud ID.
With iOS 6, we got Siri on the iPad, as well as Facebook integration, and FaceTime video chat over cellular. There was also Passbook, shared photo streams, and voice commands for apps. Unfortunately for the Cupertino-based firm, iOS 6 also ditched Google Maps in favour of Apple Maps, a release that proved to be a tad premature. We also lost the pre-installed YouTube app, but Google quickly released an iOS version of the video service.