Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 11.22.21 AMApple took the wraps off iOS 7, the mobile operating system that runs iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, today at its World Wide Developer Conference.

“It’s unbelievable, gorgeous,” said Apple’s Craig Federighi.

See also: iOS 7 is the essence of less

It was widely rumored the OS would follow a similar arc to Apple’s desktop operating system, Mac OS X: getting flatter, less colorful, less likable, and more workmanlike over time.

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Here’s the real deal:

“iOS 6 is the world’s most popular operating system,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. “This is why we get so excited about a new version of iOS.”

Major new features in iOS 7 include:

  • Control Center
    Quick access to major controls like volume, Bluetooth, etc.
  • Multitasking
    Now for all apps, with intelligent background updating when needed.
  • Safari
    A new full-screen look, smart search that unifies Google search and your history search.
  • AirDrop: The  “easiest way to share with the people who are right around you.”
  • Photos
    A photo app with new filters. Also, new auto-organized photos by date, place, and people, and new shared photo streams.
  • Siri
    New look, new voice (male), and much more intelligence to control your device. Integration of Twitter, Wikipedia, and web search results from Bing (not Google!).
  • iOS in the car
    Your iOS interface on your car’s navigation screen that has partnerships with over 10 manufacturers.
  • App Store
    New app discovery service that is location dependent, and new automatic app updating (just like Google’s Android).
  • Music
    An updated music app, with, yes, iTunes Radio. Choose a station, skip songs, share songs, buy songs, create radio stations based on songs … even create a radio station of just your favorite band(s). Free with ads, and completely free if you’re an iTunes Match subscriber. U.S. only to start.
  • Activation Lock
    If a thief tries steals your phone, they will not be able to reactivate the phone, blocking them from reselling it.

“It’s the biggest change to iOS since the beginning,” Apple design chief Jony Ive said in a pre-recorded video.

Other updates included FaceTime audio, notification syncs across all your devices, per-app VPNs for enterprise, and more, including new APIs for developers. iOS 7 includes a new gesture as well — reminiscent of Android’s back button — swipe left to go back. And folders can now have pages.

One other neat feature: a theme-like approach to iOS 7’s appearance. Changing your phone’s wallpaper, Apple said, would also affect the way many other elements on the phone look and react.

“It’s a comprehensive end-to-end redesign of the user experience,” Federighi said. “Installing iOS 7 onto your phone is like getting an entirely new phone — but one you already know how to use.”

iOS 7 is available in beta for developers today, and final release will be coming this fall. It will support iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, iPad Mini, and the iPod Touch 5th generation.

Here are some of the other things Apple announced today:

Image credits: Apple, John Koetsier

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