Apple reveals iOS 7: new flat design, iTunes Radio and multitasking

Developers, technology journalists and Apple fans across the country made their yearly virtual pilgrimage to WWDC yesterday, Apple's developer conference. Apple has unveiled its latest mobile operating system, iOS 7, the biggest shake up to the OS since its introduction in 2007.

iOS 7 evolves not only in features but also design philosophy, doing away with a lot of the brush metal user interface that has so closely defined the software for the past seven years. Apple also closes the gap with its competitors when it comes to functionality such as multitasking and background updates.

This reporter is currently staring at a blank maintenance page on the Apple Developer website, trying to download the beta using a developer account. UPDATE: The Dev Center is working now and the beta is being installed as we speak.

The update will be available for the public in Q3 of this year, supporting iPhone 4 and later, fifth generation iPod Touch and iPad 2 and beyond, including the Mini.

Design

Goodbye skeumorphism and hello flat design. Apple joins the design party that's been pioneered by Microsoft with its Windows Phone and Window 8 products and does away with much of the linen and brush metal UI that litters the OS currently.

Apple says the minimalist style makes things appear larger on screens.

Multitasking

Perhaps the most exciting feature in terms of actual functionality is the improved multitasking. Limited multitasking exists already, but only available to stock Apple apps. It's now been extended to support for all apps.

Apple says it's implemented a system which doesn't dramatically affect battery life, a byproduct of having processes running in the background. This includes using push notifications to trigger app updates in the background and updating others when there's strong wifi coverage.

iTunes Radio

Possibly the biggest announcement made today is Apple's step into the streaming music market with iTunes Radio.

The service is a Spotify competitor, giving users on demand music which is either free with ads or ad-free with an iTunes Match subscription. It will only be available in the US to start.

Safari

Apple's mobile browser gets the fullscreen treatment in iOS 7, doing away with the navigation bar at the bottom when it's not in use and opting for gesture-based navigation.

The company is finally doing away with the frustrating separate search bar also.

Camera and gallery

The camera also gets a user interface refresh matching the flat design look of the rest of the OS. New features include filters and video sharing through iCloud.

App Store

Apart from a make over, the App Store gets new tools to help users find relevant apps – including geolocation-based app charts. For instance, the most popular app in the museum you're visiting.

For those of us living on the wild side with 20+ unupdated apps, Apple's introducing automatic app uploads to take place in the background.

What do you think of the iOS 7 announcement so far?