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iPhone user interface gets major face-lift with iOS 7

At WWDC in San Francisco, Apple shows off the new look and feel of its latest mobile operating system, which sports a new, cleaner design.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
3 min read
Apple gives iOS a major facelift
Watch this: Apple gives iOS a major facelift

Apple has dramatically revamped the look and feel of the iOS user interface for its mobile devices.

"It's the biggest change to iOS since the iPhone," Apple CEO Tim Cook said Monday during the keynote event at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, where the company introduced the new version of the software that runs its iPhones and iPads.

For the latest version of iOS, called iOS 7, the company revamped the user interface, giving it a new "flat" design. What does that mean? For one, Apple has taken the edge off the icons that populate its home screen. And some of the icons now sport a new logo and color.

"Design defines so much of our experience," Apple's Jony Ives said in a video touting the new design. "I think there is a profound and enduring beauty in simplicity, in clarity, in efficiency. True simplicity is derived from so much more than just the absence of clutter and ornamentation. It's about bringing order to complexity."

Everything has been revamped, including the icons, buttons, and color schemes. The screen will take on a 3D appearance when you move your device around. There's also a way to see a preview of an app in what looks like a stack of cards when you're multitasking.

Starting with the "Control Center," Apple showed off some of the new changes to the lock screen and home screen.

Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, took to the stage and showed users you can swipe up from the bottom of the device and get quick access to brightness, volume, airplane mode, Bluetooth, do not disturb, and flashlight, too.

Every preinstalled app has been redesigned. Federighi showed how when unlocking the phone, the icons simply float down. When he fired up the Weather app, you could see moving clouds on the screen. On the Calendar app, you can swipe from day to day.

There are also new gestures for swiping from the left to get back to messages on a list. The Mail app was also revamped.

Onto messages: The chat bubbles now kind of jiggle when you move them. There's also a new gesture that lets you swipe from the left to come back to your message list.

The fresh new look of Apple iOS 7 (pictures)

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Federighi also showed how all apps can use multitasking. And he said the devices will still get great battery life by differentiating between your constantly used apps and those that only get used occasionally. It's basically scheduling on the back end.

Apple's redesign of the iOS user interface is long overdue. The current icon-laden design has changed little since the first iPhone was introduced in 2007. Meanwhile, Apple's competitors, Google Android and Microsoft Windows Phone, have done much to reiterate and improve the look and feel of smartphone software.

iOS 7 is currently in beta and due to come out this fall. The new design updates and features in iOS 7 will be available for download on the iPhone 4 and later iPhones; the iPad 2 and later iPads; iPad Mini; and the fifth-generation iPod Touch.