Today, Apple announced release details of the final version of iOS 7, the native operating system running its newest iPhone 5C and 5S handsets. The latest software will be available for download for iPhone 5C, 5S and 4S models on September 18th. The operating system will be coming later to iPhone 4, iPad 2, iPad Mini, and iPod touch 5th-gen devices. 

Developers have had their hands on the mobile OS for months, but end users may be surprised by the spate of new features, including:   

  • Flat design: New interface, icons and lockscreen with "flat" design that replaces the previous skeuomorphic (or realistic) aesthetic. Built-in apps—such a Safari, Calendar, Camera, Mail, and Messages—got the treatment immediately.
  • New gestures: Swipe up from the bottom of the homescreen to bring up Control Center (below), pull down to get Spotlight, and force quit apps by going into multitasking mode and swiping up on the app.
  • Control Center: Access settings for Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Do Not Disturb; change volume and brightness; control music playback; activate AirDrop and AirPlay; and launch timer, calculator, camera and LED light (to use as a flashlight).
  • AirDrop: Apple’s wireless file-sharing protocol.
  • Full background multitasking: Old multitasking icon tray has been replaced by a new card-like carousel. Double-clicking the Home button brings it up.
  • Notification Center: A new Today view puts relevant info about your day into one place. The Notifications Center now also offers a Missed pane with notifications you haven’t looked at yet.
  • Find My iPhone: iOS security now features Activation Lock, which ties an Apple user ID to the device. Once set, the device cannot be completely reset and activated without that authentication. And even after the handset or tablet has been erased, the user's custom Find My iPhone lost alert still pops up on screen.
  • Siri: The assistant comes as a male or female voice now, uses Bing instead of Google's search engine, and adds Twitter search. It can also return calls, play voicemail, and control iTunes Radio, along with new features.
  • Camera features: Live filters, square shooting mode, and faster shooting. New organization for photo gallery, with Years, Collections, Moments, as well as iCloud Shared Streams, which allow multiple users to contribute to one stream.
  • Safari: The mobile browser offers a unified smart search field, a simplified interface, new swipe gestures to navigate back and forward, new tabs view, shared links, faster access to private browsing and the new iCloud Keychain, for saved passwords, credit card numbers and auto-generated passwords.
  • iTunes Radio: Apple's music streaming lets users listen and/or create their own stations.
  • App Store: Apps now automatically update, and the store swaps the Genius button for "Apps Near Me," which lets you see what’s popular nearby. A new Kids category is also on board.
  • iOS 7 in the car: Integration with select cars, for now, that gives drivers calling support, music controls, navigation, and voice-enabled messaging. 

Apple also announced that its iWork productivity app suite, plus iPhoto and iMovie, will be available for free. For more details on iOS 7-specific features, check out our previous coverage here

 

Image courtesy REUTERS/Stephen Lam.