Apple's iOS 7, expected to be unveiled at WWDC 2013 in June, will have major user interface changes that will appeal to new iPad and iPhone users, but could be "unsettling" for veteran users, a new report has suggested.
Citing multiple sources who have seen or been briefed on iOS 7, internally codenamed "Innsbruck," 9To5Mac's report claims that iOS 7 will have a new user interface that is "very, very flat," ditching all skeuomorphic design elements from the mobile operating system. According to one of the sources, the "flatness" can be compared to Microsoft's Windows Phone user interface.
The interface changes will include a redesign of Apple's native app icons, as well as new tool bars, tab bars and more, the sources say.
Despite the visual changes, the sources insist that the new user interface design in iOS 7 is no more difficult to use than previous iterations of iOS. "While iOS 7 does look different, its core apps and system fundamentals (like the Lock and Home screens) mostly operate in a similar fashion to how they do today," says the report.
9To5Mac suggests that Apple has been considering implementing a more 'glance-able' information and system options panel, which could be accessed through swiping gestures, in a way that is reminiscent of the trackpad gesture used on a Mac to access the Notification Center in Mountain Lion. The report notes that this feature is uncertain, however.
It is currently unclear whether the information in 9To5Mac's latest report is legitimate, but this is not the first speculation we've heard about the possibility of an iOS redesign under the leadership of Apple design guru Jony Ive.
Following an executive shakeup in October that saw then head of iOS software Scott Forstall leave the company, Ive has taken on more responsibilities, as the leader of human interface at Apple. This means that, as well as hardware design leadership, Ive now has more involvement with the design of iOS and other Apple platforms.
Ive's promotion sparked speculation that Apple may be considering dropping its skeuomorphic design elements in favour of a cleaner, more minimalist design.
In March, The Wall Street Journal reported that Ive is pushing for a "flat design" that is "starker and simpler" for iOS 7.
At the beginning of April, a thread between various tech reporters on discussion site Branch hinted that Apple is working on a complete user interface overhaul for iOS 7, and that Apple has pulled engineers from OS X 10.9 to work on it.
Later in April, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty predicted that Apple is busy cooking up a "killer app" that will be ready to launch with iOS 7 this summer, which could come in the form of a music streaming service or mobile payment system.
Apple has applied for a patent concerning a system of '3D position tracking for panoramic imagery navigation', prompting analysts and Apple fans to speculate that iOS 7 will see Apple's Maps application get a feature to rival Google's Street View.
It's pretty certain that we'll be getting our first official glimpse at iOS 7 at WWDC 2013, which kicks off on 10 June. SEE: Decoding Apple' WWDC 2013 logo: what does it mean?
In a press release sent out last week, Apple revealed that developers will "learn about the future of iOS and OS X."
WWDC 2012 saw the launch of iOS 6, new MacBooks and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. You can find more about last year's event here.
In a similar report on Monday, 9To5Mac also published allegedly leaked details of Mac OS X 10.9, which could bring new power-user features and 'core' iOS elements to the Mac.