Apple officially unveils iOS 7

t's been talked about for months, more so this time due to the promised new look. Now we have finally got to see the completely redesigned iOS 7, described by Apple as 'the most significant iOS update since the original iPhone'.

It isn't a radical new look though. There is 'subtle' motion, a new colour palette, functional layers and more contemporary typography, but this is still (perhaps reassuringly) an iOS interface, albeit one that makes your phone look 'bigger', due in part to a design that takes advantage of the entire screen. The fonts also work better with the Retina display for even sharper text.

It's not all about looks though, there is functionality aplenty too. For a start, iOS 7 introduces Control Center, with controls you want to access quickly all in one place. With just one swipe from the bottom of your screen, you have access to controls for Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or Do Not Disturb, and the ability to adjust screen brightness, pause or play a song, jump to the next track and stream your music with AirPlay. There is also instant access to apps such as Clock, Camera, Calculator and the Flashlight.

Notification Center is now available from the Lock screen so you can see all your notifications with a simple swipe, while a new Today feature in Notification Center gives you an at-a-glance view of your day with a summary of the weather, traffic, meetings and events, for example.

Multitasking is improved too, with developers having the ability to enable any app to multitask in the background with a new API. iOS 7 also pays attention to which apps you use most and automatically keeps your content up to date in the background.

AirDrop is also a new function, this time allowing you to quickly and easily share content with people nearby. Just select who you want to share with and transfers undertaken, fully encrypted so your content is protected.

The new Camera app features filters (no surprise there) so you can add real-time photo effects. The Camera app also includes a square camera option, and you can quickly and easily switch between your four cameras - video, photo, square and panorama - with just a swipe. Talking of snaps, Apple has introduced Moments, sorting out your photo and video automatically, based on time and location.

Safari has been tweaked, with full screen browsing, a smart search option, new views for tabs and bookmarks, iCloud Keychain to securely store passwords and credit card details and enhanced parental controls. Siri has grown up a bit too, now offering male and female voices, throwing in Twitter and Wikipedia integration too.

The big change with music is iTunes Radio, which we'll cover separately. Suffice to say, the rumours of Apple launching a streaming audio service have proven true. When we get to see it in the UK is a different matter. Don't hold your breath.

Is that it? Not quite. Other features are an updated App Store, with apps now offered based on location, a new Find My iPhone Activation Lock feature that requires your Apple ID and password before you can turn off Find My iPhone, erase data or re-activate a device after it’s been remotely erased, a Night Made in Maps that responds to ambient light, FaceTime audio for better clarity when making those calls, Notification sync across all devices, Phone, FaceTime and Messages blocking to prevent specific people from being able to contact you and finally, enhanced in-car integration, although that's likely to be some way down the line in terms of cars using it.

Got all that? Good. All you need to know now is the rollout detail.  iOS 7 will be available as a free software update for iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, iPad mini and iPod touch (fifth generation) this autumn. Some features may not be available on all products though. Some are almost certain to be held back for the new iPhone - which will be iPhone 5S or iPhone 6.

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