iOS 7 is the biggest change to Apple's iOS since the arrival of apps in 2008. It's brighter, bolder and guaranteed to annoy anyone who thought iOS looked just fine, but there's much more to it than that dramatic new user interface. iOS 7 is packed with new features big and small. These are the highlights.
That new interface
Like it or loathe it, there's no denying that iOS looks very different. It's much more minimalist than before, with a distinctly flat look - check out the new Messages or Mail compared to the iOS 6 versions and the differences are obvious. Apps that haven't been designed for iOS 7 yet are going to look a little bit odd compared to the stark new Apple apps.
A new lock screen
The lock screen benefits from a parallax effect: move your phone and your wallpaper appears to move. Where the iOS 6 lock screen has two swipeable bits for unlocking your device or launching the Camera app, iOS 7 has four: unlocking, Camera, and two new swipes: swiping down from the top of the screen to see notifications, and swiping up from the bottom to bring up Control Center. Speaking of which...
Control Center is something many iOS users have been clamouring for for ages: instead of wading through endless Settings screens to turn on features such as Airplane Mode, Control Center provides quick access to key features: Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb and Rotation Lock. It also provides media playback controls, Airdrop file sharing, and quick access to the phone's LED light and the Clock, Calculator and Camera apps.
Notifications have been given a major revamp: there are now three sections (swipeable left to right) headed Today, All and Missed. Today tells you what's on your schedule and includes cute details such as "it would take you about 9 minutes to drive home right now" and a summary of the weather forecast. All collates notifications of app updates, messages and so on, and as you might expect Missed tracks notifications of missed calls and notifications you didn't deal with. You can customise which apps can access Notifications in the Settings app.
The Camera app has been dramatically redesigned and offers four kinds of shooting: video, photo, square (for Instagram-style shots) and Pano (for panoramas). You also get Instagram-style filters for adding retro effects.
The Photos app has been redesigned too, and it can automatically organise your photos into what Apple calls Collections. The feature uses your device's GPS to sort photos not just by date, but by location - and it's smart enough to know the difference between the exhibition centre in one part of a city and the cinema in the city centre. You can also zoom out to see your photos by year, which is handy if you never, ever clear the pictures from your iOS device.
Spotlight has been moved: to activate it, just pull down in the Home screen.
Safari gets a much simpler interface that disappears completely as you scroll through pages, and the interface for switching tabs is more visual (and very similar to the new multitasking interface).
Bookmarks can access shared links from your Twitter feed, the address and search boxes have been combined into a single box, and iCloud Keychain can generate and store passwords and securely store your credit card details too.
You'll have to wait for that last one, though: Apple pulled it from the Gold Master release at the very last minute, and we're expecting it to appear when OS X Mavericks ships.
Good news for fans of FaceTime who'd rather not have, or whose connections aren't good enough for, video: iOS 7 now offers audio-only FaceTime.
Smart Mailboxes and easier mail management
Mail.app doesn't just get a cool new design. It gets some useful features too. Smart Mailboxes enable you to pin frequently-used mail folders for quick access, and swiping right to left on an email header gives you the choice of Trash or More. That latter option gives you Reply, Forward, Flag, Mark as Unread, Junk and Move options.
As with iOS 6 you can force-quit apps by double-tapping the home button to invoke the multitasking view, but in iOS 7 you dismiss them by swiping them upwards. Multitasking has been changed under the hood, too: according to Apple, "iOS 7 learns when you like to use your apps and can update your content before you launch them. So if you tend to check your favorite social app at 9:00 every morning, your feed will be ready and waiting for you."
The new iTunes Radio feature will supplement your music library with streaming songs, and if you're an iTunes Match subscriber it'll be ad-free. It'll feature personalised stations based on the music you already listen to, and more than 200 genre-specific stations. Apple promises exclusive previews of some new releases too.
Automatic App Updating
Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah once more! Keeping our iOS apps up to date was beginning to feel rather like gardening: time-consuming, tedious and utterly pointless. Now iOS lets apps update themselves, although you can disable the feature if you prefer to keep things manual.
Sharing files from iOS devices hasn't been as easy as it could be, which is why many of us use apps such as Dropbox or send photos over email to the person sitting six feet away from us.
Airdrop makes things simpler: if the person you want to share with is nearby and running iOS 7, you'll be able to share photos, videos, contacts or anything else app developers decide to support. You can share one file with lots of people or lots of files with one person, and you can restrict Airdrop to people in your address book or anyone in the vicinity.
Siri can do more in iOS 7 without leaving the app: you can get web results (via Bing, even if you tell Siri to "search the web"), ask questions such as "tell me about [thing]", look for particular people's Twitter tweets and - joy of joys - access key settings, such as Bluetooth and Airplane mode.
More App Store options
The familiar App Store has been given a new look and two new discovery features: Apps Near Me, which shows you the most popular apps downloaded from your current location, and a new Kids category for - you've guessed it - kids' apps.
iOS 6's Find My Phone features have been enhanced to make criminals' lives more difficult: disabling Find My Phone or erasing the device requires your Apple ID and password, and those ID details are also required to re-activate it even once it has been wiped. Remotely erasing your iPhone doesn't prevent your phone from displaying a custom message of your choice either.
iOS in the car
It'll be a while before this feature's relevant to many of us, but iOS 7 is designed to integrate with compatible in-car systems for hands-free calling, music, messages and navigation.
Wallpapers and ringtones
Not exactly earth-shattering we know, but some of them are quite nice.