Apple confirms iOS7 – and it’s going flat

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Apple has confirmed that iOS 7 exists and will radically update the user interface. Everything has been redesigned, from the layout and icons of the core applications to even the typography. It also adds parallex when you move the phone around.

The most obvious change is the removal of the felt and wood – the skeumorphic design promoted by Jony Ive’s predecessor on iOS, Scott Forstall. Notification Center becomes translucent and now accessible from the homescreen (which also gets a slight redesign), while all the apps get a new, consistent design.

There is also some new features – including Control Center, allowing you to access your apps, settings, brightness and media controls through a screen gesture (instead of the double tapping the home button). All apps now support multitasking, and will update the app automatically from a push notification.

Safari has a new full-screen look and smart search bar. There is a new tabs view, parental controls and support for iCloud Keychain – which stores your passwords and credit card information. Air Drop lets you share files easily via peer-to-peer Wi-Fi, so you don’t have to bump your phones through NFC. Photos now sorts your phones based on “moments” – extracted from the metadata of the photos; while the camera now adds filters (essentially, it’s Instagram made by Apple).

Siri gets new voices, and you can now choose between male and female. It has integrated more services, such as Twitter and Wikipedia. There is even web searching from Bing – yes, you heard that right. Bing.

“iOS in the Car” integrates iOS in the car, allowing you to look at Maps and communicate with Siri. With “Apps Near Me”, it will let you discover new apps based on location – so you can download a Paris guide when you’re in Paris. The App Store will also let you update your apps automatically; and FaceTime will now let you have audio-only calls.

There is also a brand new security feature called Activation Lock. Thieves will not be able to use your phone unless they have access to your iCloud credentials, even if they have wiped the phone or disable the feature.

The style obviously has design cues from Android and Windows Phone. For me, it is more closer towards Windows Phone in terms of design – though of course with differences. Microsoft’s Metro simplicity is because of the typography; while Apple is based on colours and layers. But not everyone is happy with the design – the application icons are horrible. In particular, Safari is like a clip-art compass.

It is coming in the fall, with developers getting access to it today. It will be available on the iPhone 4 and above, iPad 2 and above, iPad mini and the fifth-generation iPod touch.

So all you fourth-gen iPod touch users, like myself, are now deadpooled. Great. Thanks Apple, despite having similar hardware as the iPhone 4.