While we wait for the official version of iOS 7 to launch (when will iOS 7 launch? Some time in autumn, if all goes to plan), I'm reminded of a favourite controversial theory of mine*: it’s the iPhone and iPad hardware that gets the headlines, but most of the giant leaps forward in your day-to-day Apple existence come from humble software updates.
Not convinced? Well, what are you expecting from the next iPhone/iPhone 5S/iPhone 6 - the one we’re all going to queue around the block for, the one that will appear on the evening news? A quicker chip, for sure, probably a better camera, maybe the odd unexpected bonus feature; but, after the complete physical overhaul of the iPhone 5, that’s probably about it for your six hundred quid. But update to iOS 7 for free, on the other hand...
So far we know that Apple’s next mobile operating system will add app multitasking, AirDrop wireless sharing, multiple camera modes, iTunes Radio, new photo organisation, major changes to the way Safari and the Notification Center behave, and an all-new Control Center, accessible throughout. Not to mention a radically altered visual style.
This is huge, vital stuff. After all, the handset is just the object you’re going to spend hours holding; iOS and its interface are what you’re actually going to be using. iOS is the glue that holds the entire experience together. And while we won’t know for sure if Apple’s got this one right until the official iOS 7 launches in autumn, the beta version shows enormous promise. All your questions about the next iOS revolution are answered in our iOS 7 preview feature.
*Not particularly controversial, and not really mine
[Related: Will I be able to update to iOS 7 on my iPhone? | Apple iOS 7 announced at WWDC 2013 | How to update your iPhone or iPad to Apple iOS 7 | Apple iOS 7 for iPhone and iPad preview & first impressions | Massive iOS 6 uptake is good news for Apple's iOS 7 launch]