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Apple chief executive Tim Cook launches the new iOS 7 at a developers' conference in San Francisco. Eric Risberg/AP
iOS 7

iOS 7: Apple unveils a new operating system for iPhone and iPad

The operating system for over 400 million devices will be available to download later this year.

APPLE HAS UNVEILED the latest version of the operating system used for its iPhone and iPad devices.

iOS 7 boasts an improved multitasking interface, an updated version of the Safari browser with an improved tab system, and an ‘AirDrop’ feature that allows iOS users to share photos and files peer-to-peer with others nearby.

For the first time, the updated system will also be compatible with a range of cars – with car makers like Hyundai, Mercedes, Nissan, Chevrolet, Kia, Hyundai, Volvo and Opel all listed as currently making models which can interact with iOS to dictate text messages, make calls or seek directions.

A new ‘control centre’ can be accessed from any screen, including when the device is locked, to offer immediate access to WiFi settings and the likes – while the notifications centre is also given an overhaul and can be accessed through a drop-down swipe from any screen.

An update to the Music app, and the iTunes desktop app, will allow a new service called ‘iTunes Radio’ – free to users who choose to allow adverts, and also free to users who pay €25 a year for the iTunes Match service.

‘Opportunistic updates’

Apple said the system would exploit ‘opportunistic updates’ – so that apps would update at a time when the user is less likely to be using the device – and would make more intelligent use of network conditions, so it would automatically download new mail more frequently when network coverage is better.

Those app downloads will be downloaded immediately, ending the era where app developers need to rely on users to download the latest version of their software in order to exploit the latest features.

Announcing the new features, Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook described iOS 7 as “the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the smartphone.”

The latest version of the operating system incorporates the biggest redesign of the operating system to date, with the icons for most of the prominent apps given a facelift, while the user’s choice of wallpaper will determine the colour scheme for the home screen.

Typography on the new system has been slightly refined, with design features that resemble later editions of apps provided by the likes of Google, and operating systems like Windows Mobile.

Over 400 million devices around the world run on various versions of iOS 7, a user base rivalled only by Google’s Android operating system.

Not all of those devices will be able to run iOS 7, however: users will need an iPhone 4, iPad 2, iPad mini or fifth-generation iPod Touch to be able to download the operating system when it launches in autumn.

Apple also unveiled a new line of MacBook Air and Mac Pro machines and a new desktop operating system, ‘OSX Mavericks’, which further synchronises the user experience between desktop and mobile products while also offering better support for users on multiple screens.

Read: Will the new iPhone be curved, have fingerprint scanning and look like this?

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