According to Apple, iOS 7 is completely redesigned with subtle motion, an elegant colour palette and distinct, functional layers that make it feel more ‘alive’. The typography has also been refined for a cleaner, simpler look.
iOS 7 has hundreds of new features, including Control Center, Notification Center, improved Multitasking, AirDrop, enhanced Photos, Safari, Siri and introduces iTunes Radio, a free Internet radio service based on the music you listen to on iTunes.
At the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2013 in San Francisco, running from June 10 to 14, the firm was particularly keen to highlight the flatter look for the user interface.
The new parallax effect was also bigged up – icons shift against the background image as an iPhone-user tilts their handset one way and another, based on feedback from the device’s accelerometer sensor.
Apple’s design chief Jony Ive said that one of the main aims of the updates was to make the system look cleaner to help elevate users’ content. Gone are the days of leather, wood and other real-world inspired textures and artefacts in Apple apps.
So, after all the build up and hype surrounding Apple’s announcements, how will the updates actually be received?
Chief telecoms analyst at the consultancy Ovum, Jan Dawson, commented: "The new version is almost unrecognisable, which will make it polarising.
"Some people will love that their phone feels new and different, while others will be disoriented by the newness.
"Finding your Settings app is hard when the icon has totally changed, and the many people who easily get disoriented by their gadgets may well have a negative experience.
"On the other hand, this is a clear statement from Apple that it acknowledges the need to refresh the user interface and is willing to do something pretty dramatic."
Mic Wright, chief tech blogger at the Telegraph, said: "iOS 7 looks great. That’s the result of last year’s putsch that saw Jony Ive take control of not only hardware design but software.
"But dive beyond the new flattened exterior – the sacred cow of skeumorphism, so oddly beloved by Steve Jobs despite his much-vaunted good taste, has been slaughtered – and you’ll find features that Google has included in Android for years. There are great new inclusions – improved Siri,
"Activation Lock to make it harder for thieves to wipe your phone, FaceTime with audio-only and most strikingly iTunes Radio – but nothing feels revelatory or innovative. More than ever choosing the iPhone and iPad over their rivals is about taste and philosophy, not hard facts or features."
Telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, Ernest Doku, noted: "With many elements of Apple’s six-year old operating system showing their age – and stiff competition from the visually arresting charms of Android and Windows Phone 8 – the crow’s feet had started to become visible on its range of hugely popular devices.
"With iOS7, Apple was eager to show this wasn’t just a fresh coat of paint, or a few nips and tucks. Jony Ive and his team have really brought the design ethos that have made Apple products so iconic on the outside, and seem to have revamped the innards just as drastically too."
Mark Walton at Gamespot UK said: "There was a defensive attitude to Apple’s WWDC keynote that we haven’t seen for some time – the media criticism about the company’s supposed lack of innovation had finally got to it.
"iOS 7finally brings the ageing mobile operating system up-to-date visually, features like Control Centre begin to deal with increased competition from Android, and iTunes Radio finally gives Apple the chance to compete with Spotify.
"The changes to OS X were less extensive, but there’s something to be said for the improved multi-display support that professional users have been clamouring for.
Online editor of Stuff.tv, Paddy Smith, commented: "iOS 7 will arrive on iPhones and iPads in millions of homes and pockets for free and change the way many people use their smartphones and tablets.
"It’s gorgeous but Apple’s had a rocky ride with software updates in the past few years – both Siri and Apple Maps had a bumpy introduction to the world – so we hope ‘the biggest update to iOS since iPhone’ won’t also prove to be its most controversial."