iOS 7 released to developers alongside new MacBook Air and Mac Pro lineup

WWDC keynote confirms iOS 7 release date and provides slew of product updates.

iOS 7 has been officially unveiled, silencing months of speculation and rumours about its release date.

The new Apple OS was unveiled during the keynote at the tech giant's worldwide developer conference (WWDC) in San Francisco today alongside many other updates to the company's iCloud, Mac and Safari portfolios among other things.

"iOS 7 has amazing new features and a stunning new user interface. It's the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the Phone... We are incredibly proud of all of these products. They are great examples of what Apple does best," Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, said during the WWDC opening keynote.

iOS 7 features a new user interface and enterprise-friendly features such as per app VPN, Apple confirmed today, reiterating that the new OS was the same but different. And much better. The iOS 7 SDK includes more than 1,500 new APIs for developers, according to Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing.

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It's the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the Phone.

iOS 7 will be run on the iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, iPad Mini and the fifth generation iPod Touch, Schiller confirmed.Other iOS 7-specifc features include a new colour palette and typography, layers, Control and Notification Centres, beefed up multi-tasking, AirDrop, an enhanced camera and photo management functionality and a new and improved mobile version of Safari.

A video featuring Apple design head design guru Jonathan Ive also gushed about the new OS and what it will offer both users and developers alike.

"Design is so much more than just the way something looks. Ultimately, of course, design defines so much of our experience. I think there is a profound and enduring beauty in simplicity, in clarity, in efficiency. It's about bringing order to complexity," he said.

"Even the simple act of changing your wallpaper has a very noticeable effect on the way your iPhone looks and feels across the entire system. Even though iOS 7 is new, it was important to us to make it instantly familiar. We wanted to take an experience people know very well and actually add to it to make it more useful, more enjoyable. It defines an important new direction and, in many ways, the beginning."

There is no doubt this latest version of the OS, which is available immediately for developers but not until the Fall for the general public, will divide opinion. It's radically different enough to mark a new dawn for Apple's OS, yet it may stray too far from what users have become accustomed to, according to experts.

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"iOS 7 is easily the biggest news because it represents a massive overhaul of the look and feel of the operating system, which has remained largely unchanged visually since the original version," said Ovum chief telecoms analyst Jan Dawson.

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