Apple is set to unveil a preview of iOS 7 for the first time on Monday, June 10 at the annual Worldwide Developer Conference. Though Apple has been typically tightlipped about any features or changes with the upcoming iOS update, some rumors have surfaced from traditionally reliable sources that help to paint a picture of what to expect.
You'll find that most of the current rumors surrounding iOS 7 suggest it will primarily be a visual overhaul, aiming to modernize the appearance of the core OS and default apps, and adding a few features or changes that users have long wanted. We're going to do a rundown of some of the more realistic possibilities of iOS 7 based on pieces from 9to5mac (1) (2) and Bloomberg, in addition to little tidbits we've heard, and also drawing some fairly obvious conclusions based on clues from Apple and just plain common sense.
Black, White, & Flat Interface Elements
Expect "black, white, and flat all over", according to 9to5mac's sources. Some are expecting a huge change with this, but it's likely to be more subtle. We have probably already seen a hint of this in various aspects of iOS, like the mysteriously unmatching Account Settings panel accessible from Settings and from the App Store and iTunes, which features UI elements that are black, white, flatter, texture-free, all of which are distinctly different from other parts of iOS:
For some comparison, here's the "Account Settings" before and after the change:
Simpler, Refined App Interfaces
Simplified interface elements are expected to expand to apps, with reduced or removed skeumorphism in apps from Game Center to Calendar. 9to5mac suggests many of the style changes to be similar to how the Podcasts app was toned down recently, which sounds reasonable:
Color-Coded App Icons & Interfaces
9to5mac suggests the refined app interfaces will expand to other applications, with different color themes per application: "While the core elements of those apps are mostly white, each app has been given a unique button color. Essentially, each app has a white base with a respective color theme." That has also been hinted at with the official WWDC logo:
Quick Settings Access Panel
An easily accessible panel to toggle things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplane Mode, and other frequently used basic settings is apparently in the works, perhaps as part of Notifications Center, or accessible from elsewhere like the multitasking tray. Here's an example of such a panel, coming from the Android world:
Such Settings panels have long been popular in the jailbreak world as well.
Improvements to Notification Center
Whether it's the addition of the Quick Settings panel, a total refresh, or something else, we can expect Notification Center to get a refresh, at least visually.
Icon shine and gloss is out
Expect flatter default icons on the Home Screen, removing the bubble gloss that has been around since the original version of iPhone OS. Default app icons are perhaps closer to what various Google apps, Skype, and Vine icons look like:
It's also likely the default gloss on any Apple Touch Icon from webpages and apps will be gone too, without having to label the file "apple-touch-icon-precomposed.png".
Swiping from the Home screen over to another screen of icons will move the wallpaper with it. This is a visually pleasant feature that has been around in the Android world for a long time, which is demonstrated in the video below:
Don't expect this to be an exact replica of the Android feature, and it's probably going to look and behave a bit differently than what is demoed in this video.
New Multitasking UI
Multitasking is apparently set to receive an overhaul to show app thumbnails instead, much like the HTC app switcher. This idea that was first included in builds of iOS 4 but was shelved by Apple for some reason or another before shipping, instead they opted for the little multitasking tray. If it happens this time around, it may look something like this:
Flickr & Vimeo Social Sharing Support
Added alongside the existing social sharing features, Flickr and Vimeo integration is apparently coming. Flickr will be a particularly nice addition with Yahoo's recent announcement of 1TB of free photo storage on the service, which leaves questions about Apple's response with their own Photo Streaming feature.
iCloud Storage & iCloud Backup Improvements
Could it be an increase in the default storage from 5GB to something more reasonable? Automatic delta backups? Nobody knows for certain, but there is plenty of room for improvement here, and with how critical iCloud is to iOS and OS X you can bet there will be changes with iOS 7 to improve the service considerably.
App Update Badges
These arrived on the desktop with iTunes 11.0.3, and the concept is practically guaranteed to arrive in iOS as well
Linen is Gone
The linen texture that sits in Notification Center and elsewhere is out. Similarly, we've heard linen was gone from the desktop in regards to the OS X login screen and Notification Center, and 9to5mac seems to confirm that with iOS too, sounding like it's out of favor across the board.
New Lock Screen
The lock screen has been the same since the origins of iOS, and it's expected to get a face lift with iOS 7. Be sure to read 9to5mac's articles for more information on this.
Developer Beta at WWDC
Developers will almost certainly gain access to the iOS 7 beta at WWDC, which is really a no brainer because that's what Apple has done for ages now, and iOS 7 should be no different. Intended for developers only, what this really means is that anyone who pays the $99 to have an iOS Developer Account can run the beta OS.
Public Release Scheduled for September
Current rumors expect a public release date in September alongside a new iPhone, iPad, and iPad mini, making it an exciting Fall for Apple after an unusually quiet start to the year.
Want to read more iOS 7 rumors?
We all love rumors when they're from reliable sources, so be sure to check out the following reports, which are the basis for nearly all expectations for Apple's upcoming mobile OS refresh:
- 9to5mac: Jony Ive's new look for iOS 7
- 9to5mac: Jony Ive paints a fresh, yet familiar, look for iOS 7
- Bloomberg: Apple's Ive Seen Risking iOS 7 Delay on Software Overhaul
As usual, take everything with a grain of salt until something has been officially announced from Apple. Fortunately, we don't have to wait much longer to find out what's happening and what's not, as WWDC is set to run from June 10 to the 14th in San Francisco.