7 top changes in Apple's new iOS 7 operating system

Apple is touting its latest operating system, which was released today, as the "most significant" iOS update since the original iPhone. Here's a look at the top seven changes.

From location-based app store selection to a male Siri

Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering at Apple, speaks about the new iOS 7 release in Cupertino, Calif., on Tuesday. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

Apple is touting its latest mobile operating system, which was released today at 10 a.m. PT, as the "most significant" iOS update since the original iPhone.

"Downloading iOS 7 is like getting an all-new device," said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice-president of software engineering, as he walked users through the company’s newest operating system on Tuesday. "One that's so much more useful and elegant than ever before."

Apple CEO Tim Cook predicted that when the iOS 7 becomes publicly available for free on Sept. 18 it will "quickly become the world’s most popular operating system."

Here’s a look at some of new features Apple users can expect:

1. New look

The redesigned operating system has a cleaner look for everything from the icons to the lock screen. Users may not immediately recognize the brightly-coloured, simplified Apple application icons. The user interface design aims to de-clutter the screens.

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks on stage before a new product introduction in Cupertino, Calif., on Tuesday. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

2. Control centre

This is a brand new addition to the operating system. The control centre is a pull-up menu accessible from any app or screen when using iOS 7. The handy feature offers fast access to the most commonly used features and settings such as airplane mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, camera, calculator and more. 

3. iCloud Keychain

For anyone who struggles to remember a myriad of passwords, the iCloud Keychain will be the standout feature of the new operating system. It can remember account names, passwords and credit card numbers, which Safari will automatically enter when the user logs into a site. It doesn't, however, store the credit card security code.

The feature is not restricted to iPhones. Passwords, which are stored in iCloud, can be synced to all trusted iOS 7 devices, including computers using OS X Mavericks. Apple says it's highly secure and uses 256-bit AES encryption. The feature also helps users generate strong passwords.

4. Improved Find My iPhone

With all those passwords stored in the new iOS, users may feel a bit worried about losing their valuable devices. Fortunately, to keep devices safe, the iOS 7 also includes a number of new and improved security options. The Find My iPhone activation lock is one of them. 

iOS 7 is compatible with:

  • iPhone 4, 4s and 5
  • iPod touch 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB (Fifth generation)
  • iPad 2, iPad with retina displays and iPad mini

If Find My iPhone is turned on and the device is stolen, the phone's data cannot be erased and the feature cannot be turned off without the owner's Apple ID and password. The owner can also remotely erase information from the device and then a custom message can be displayed on it. This all makes it a lot harder for the device to be used by others or sold off.

5. Siri becomes male or female

Siri, the in-phone personal assistant, has a new look, sound and capabilities. Users can now choose between a female and male voice, though novelty voices are still unavailable. Siri now checks more sources such as Bing, Twitter and Wikipedia and can also play voicemail, return calls and read and reply to text messages.

6. Filters and other camera options 

The new camera app has slightly more options than before. Users can now swipe between four camera options: video, regular stills, panorama photos and square pictures. Filters can be applied before or after taking the photo. The redesigned app automatically organizes the pictures based on time and location for easy searching and sharing.

7. Location-based and kid-friendly apps

The new iOS also updates the App Store with a new feature called Apps Near Me. This enables users to see a collection of the most popular applications based on their location. A tourist in an unfamiliar city might find it handy to pull up these location-based recommendations. Parents also benefit from an App Store addition: a new Kids category that suggests apps based on the specified age of the child. And iPhone users can say goodbye to the red alerts badgering them to update their apps. The App Store can now be set to automatically update whenever the phone is in a Wi-Fi zone or battery-saving mode.