Never mind iPhone 6 and iPads next, in 2013 it's all about iOS 7 and iCloud

Never mind iPhone 6 and iPads next, in 2013 it's iOS 7 and iCloud that matter most

There'll be an iPhone 5s and iPhone 6. There'll be a Retina iPad mini. There'll be a thinner, lighter iPad 5. There'll be an Apple A7 system-on-a-chip. There'll be an LTE radio that can do simultaneous voice and data, and eventually voice over LTE. There may be curved displays, biometric sensors and security, 4K AirPlay, onboard voice parsing, in-air gesture and face recognition, and much, much more. Apple's hardware will continue to tick tock its way towards the future, but for mainstream users, most of the time, the devices we hold in our hands today are more than good enough. And it's the stuff inside and around them that's become far, far more important.

iOS 6 was prep work, a way for Apple to get Google off their platform, fully outsource social, and better approach China. It prepared Apple for the future, but it didn't take them there. Likewise, iOS 5 introduced iCloud and Siri, but to this day Apple's online services are still unreliable, with the potential of tomorrow but mired in the problems of yesterday.

When BlackBerry 10 launches at the end of this month, iOS will become the oldest major operation system in mobile. Windows Phone still hasn't found feature parity or market traction, but Microsoft can throw Windows and Office money at it in perpetuity, and their phone division is perhaps the only part of the company that has shown any real, transformative forward thinking. They'll get there. Android still hasn't caught up on interface or overall experience, but their feature set has leap-frogged ahead, and Samsung is now interesting and competitive all on their own. Then there's Amazon, Facebook, Intel, NVIDIA, and who knows what else 2013 will bring.

All of them will throw more and more varied hardware, more often, at the market than Apple. But it's not Samsung's or LG's or HTC's or Nokia's or BlackBerry's hardware that Apple will face in the market. It's Google Now and BlackBerry Balance and whatever Facebook does with their social graph, and SDKs that let developers create compelling apps to leverage them.

It's not about outdated concepts like widgets or settings toggles, or inconsequential interface trends like skeuomorphism. it's about software and services that don't force us to hunt for data or controls, no matter how they're painted up, but that bring data and controls to us, flat or textured. It's about actionable notifications powered by headless apps and seamless inter-app communication. It's about predictive data assistance with multi-layer natural language interfaces. It's about data moving from cloud to device, or vice versa, transparently, in the background, so we have what we need, when and where we need it, without having to manage or store it. It's about all our stuff working together directly, device to device, so using one of them is akin to using any one of them. It's about an app ecosystem that pushes rather than than waits for us to pull, with demos and refunds, and analytics that delight developers and users alike. It's about the brilliant interaction of software and services both on-device and in the clouds.

Over the coming weeks and months, we're going to be seeing a ton of rumors and leaks, real and fake, about the new iPhones and iPads and other devices Apple is thinking about for this spring and fall. None of them will be as important to Apple, to us, or to the future of Apple's mobile platforms as iOS 7 and iCloud this summer.

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Never mind iPhone 6 and iPads next, in 2013 it's all about iOS 7 and iCloud

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Absolutely. The device design and fit/finish is amazing. Its the software that has lagged behind in the innovation. Going to be interesting how they address that. Let the user use the device how he/she wants. Apple has a fantastic platform but it would be nice to be able to tailor/tweak it like other platforms have done!

I think that stuff is all in the past. Tweaking skins and widgets don't matter in a post Google Now and Siri universe.

Sort of like who has the best hardware keyboard, for most people, doesn't matter in a post-iPhone world.

How Apple addresses their services infrastructure, for me, is a far more urgent consideration.

Wow. You have become the best writer on the subject of Apple. I use dictation constantly.

The article does sound like the end of Apple, since they depend on us upgrading our iPhones and iPads regularly. They'll have to find a way to make money off of services.

Its not what apple can catch up on, IMO, its how they can better allow the developers access/ability to make more efficient keyboards, icons, notification center tweaks. It may be easy and simple but iOS isn't the most powerful and efficient

Hey Rene, how about an article with a schedule for this 2013, like when we expect hardware and software releases (ios and mac) to come out.

Very nice article, I agree on the boring aspects of hardware and widgets. I feel that the carriers really need to step their game up though. I believe that carriers hamper the users experience with lies about the true nature of their networks. And I hope Apple or Google do have your insight and vision to take us to a new level of user experience. For right now I just want my iphone 5 to work the same at home, work or on the go.

It has nothing to do with your article, but where were you when you took this picture? A French Movie Poster? :) I'm proud cause I live in Québec, Canada… Were you here or were in Europe :) Cheers Rene!
Jean

See I kind of think the opposite. After years with Android iOS 6.0 (and 5.0 before it) was like a giant breath of fresh air. It just works. I really don't think Apple is falling behind on iOS more of just making an already good mobile OS even better. I agree with Rene that Siri needs some work as it has great potential and I hope to see some more design on the iOS side, but I'm really happy with iOS right now. Thats not to say that it is perfect though and I look forward to seeing what Jony Ive will do to the software side as I've never been a fan of skeumorphism.

Wow! Spot on, great article! The iPhone 5 and iPad 4 have plenty of horsepower for me, I just want to see Apple's online services to take a few ideas from Google's.

"it's about software and services that don't force us to hunt for data or controls, no matter how they're painted up, but that bring data and controls to us,"
You do know it already exists, do you?

(not trying to troll)

It'd be marvelous if once and a while the "my platform already has everything ever" point of view was suppressed in favor of people who just love technology and want to see more and better from everyone.

Because no, it doesn't. Everyone is doing a little bit, and Google and perhaps BlackBerry are doing more, but it's early days still and it's not the mature, dominant interaction it needs to be.

Ok, so I have just happened upon this site, having frequented various tech-orientated pages around the web for many years... and I can't believe it - lucid, insightful writing, and comments which actually further understanding and discussion.

I am never going back to engadget again.

Thank you.

I agree with you that Google and Blackberry are doing more, but innovation has always been what they do best. Apple has another issue they need to figure out besides the old OS. Keeping their customer base is going to be a very big challenge. Sure the ecosystem has most users stuck and afraid to leave, but they also are now aware that Apple has become one of the richest companies based on revenue from services, and upgrades every 6 months on hardware. (52% profit margins) ?
Without apps, itunes, and external developers apple has no real function as a business phone.
Then you have the Blackberry, Android, Microsoft users who can't stand apple users because of the lack of knowledge they have in the smartphone space(not all users, but you know what i mean). The term "It just works" has become a joke in most of the blogs, because of all the issues the Iphone5 just had. The peer pressure Apple users are going to get to switch platforms is huge right now. Just like the parents who got an iphone because there kids did, they will be the same ones to leave when their kids do.
The stock price is dropping which shows you that the interest is gone. I only say this because the majority of iphone/ipad sales where made in the U.S, which would also make me believe most of the money invested is also coming from the wealthy in the U.S., and if they are pulling out their money that means they know something we don't. If you lost $250 a share since the launch of the greatest ipad/iphone would you still have faith? I watched your video as well explaining the entire Wall Street bashing, but this is no different from what the media did to RIM, and while that was happening iphone users everywhere were mocking BB users. My favorite is RIP RIM. Can't wait for BB10 and I'm sure most IT departments can't wait to have the iphone players getting back to productivity. Your video also made me nervous because you sounded like you were making up excuses and weren't sure of yourself. Your body language screamed "this is how kevin must have felt during the bad times at RIM". One more thing, once you leave an ecosystem like apples you probably won't return, but Blackberry has the opportunity to get their customers back....i'm thinking the grass wasn't so green on the other side....that would also explain all the users going to android.

You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new.

It's going to be interesting to see what the new version of iOS will be like coming from Apple post-shakeup. With people like Jony Ives taking an active part in the design of the software as well as the hardware, I think we can expect to see something different with iOS 7. Because, lets face it...the current UI is tired and needs a refresh.

I highly doubt it will be a total reramp on iOS7. I think we will probably see bits and pieces of the changes until we hit iOS8

It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them.

The “Cloud” is over rated. It’s no use to you when you don’t have a internet connection which some of us don’t always have in the middle of nowhere.

I agree. There has been many times that I have had Siri tell me she couldn't help me right now. That is usually with just voice dialing. I get it even in the middle of town where we have decent cell service too.

Re: "When BlackBerry 10 launches at the end of this month, iOS will become the oldest major operation system in mobile."

Just FYI: iOS is based on OS X, which is based on BSD + Mach, which are based on UNIX, which dates back to 1969. All of which is why iOS is rock solid now. Because hundreds of thousands of eyes have gone over that kernel code. (Same with Linux and its derivatives too, but with a more recent provenance than 1969.)

Re: "None of them [the devices] will be as important to Apple, to us, or to the future of Apple's mobile platforms as iOS 7 and iCloud this summer."

Bingo. Yes, Apple's devices are currently their major source of revenue. But they're just windows into the Apple infrastructure. They're just the boxes the software ships in. iPhone and iPad are literally featureless until the screen is turned on. And when the screen is on, iOS puts as little as possible between you and your stuff.

I keep saying this over and over, but iCloud is as important to Apple's next decade or so as iTunes was in the past decade or so. Apple leveraged iTunes to make iPod wildly successful. Then they leveraged iTunes and its store ecosystem to make iPhone and iPad wildly successful. Not to mention wildly profitable.

Of course, Wall Street focuses on device sales. Because that's what contributes to the "bottom line" and "earnings numbers." But the hardware is the easy part. It's an order of magnitude harder to create an OS that works seamlessly with the hardware. And it's two orders of magnitude harder to design and implement an app and content store ecosystem like iTunes. Which works to Apple's advantage, because it's impossible to copy overnight. It takes years, which gives Apple years of lead time.

Finally, it's at least three orders of magnitude harder (i.e. at least 1000 times harder) to design, implement, and expand an infrastructure like iCloud. I'm talking man-years here, not calendar time or lines of code. So yeah, the whole man-year concept is oh so late-mid 20th century (as in "The Mythical Man Month," Frederick Brooks, ISBN 0-201-83595-9). But needing many people, in all disciplines, working for years to build out a complex and robust hardware + software cloud infrastructure, is a painful and expensive reality.

But, of course, you'll need a cloud infrastructure to have any chance of succeeding as a technology company in the 21st century. A real one. Not just a Microsoftian check-box-marketing cloud. A serious, usable, interoperable, scalable, battle-tested, industrial-strength cloud infrastructure. Apple has been working hard on that for years now, and they're buying up more real estate to keep expanding it.

Come to think of it, maybe "the cloud" is why Amazon is considered to be part of the tech sector, and not just another e-tailer. Isn't it? Because they've created a cloud infrastructure to support the Kindle Fire. Just a thought.

And iTunes runs on Windows. It's all about leverage. Apple leverages their iTunes store and content delivery through iCloud. What cloud-based store and content delivery does Microsoft still have?

Oh, and don't get too excited about Xbox Live. Legacy game consoles, even with internet connections, are dead-end technology. Xbox won't keep Microsoft relevant.

I've said this at least a few dozen times in the past year. But yep, this year should be about iOS & ecosystem.

Inspiring article Rene! Makes me excited to be part of all this.

So my phone has GPS, Internet, hooks in to various parts of my life and can talk to me. It makes me wonder why it doesn't know to be quiet when I'm in a meeting, to have my saver card and grocery list ready for my when I'm at the store and why it doesn't just start playing my death metal when I'm at the gym and pull up my workout sheet.

You'd think if it was confused about these, that it could just speak up, ask me and learn.

Apps. Settings. Tweaks. Widgets. I really don't want to bother myself with it. What we need is some smart folks to connect all of these sensors, data repositories and interfaces to do something truly compelling. It seems almost within reach.

Couldn't agree more. The interface with the system must improve and have the device become a true "personal assistant". I think we should see thing along these lines. I would like to have the phone sense it is moving in the mornings after my alam goes off or offer me the following or by my voice command. I would like the voice activation to be possible by merely speaking and not having to press anything. The phone would know I was talking to it. I would like to ask for a "report or update " and the phone would do the following:

Your Morning Report

You can choose the wake up information that you would like to receive.

At night you set the Siri wake up call.
After your alarm goes off to either an alarm or music goes off after a predetermined amount of time from zero to up to 10 minutes. You would also select what you would like Siri to call you. The app would say something like this "Good Morning Rick here's your morning report.

I would like to see this information in a short report form
Time ( this would be a reminder of what time it is in the morning)
Current weather and weather for the day according to your location
Top three news headlines (selected from your choice of CNN, Fox News, USA Today, or BBC.)
Events on your calendar for the day
Events on your calendar for tomorrow
It would read your new emails you received during the night( and send your reply if desired)
It would your new texts you received during tonight (reply if you desire)

You would also have the option to play all of these at your command any time throughout the day. This would be especially useful if say having this played to you while you fix breakfast. It would also be useful when getting off the airplane it could update you with this information of things that happened while you were on flight. Everything would also be adjusted to your time zone.

So my custom report would be something like this:

Good morning Rick here's your morning report it's Monday, October 29 at 7:55 AM it's 45°F outside today's high should be 55° today's low 34° with winds gusting up to 20 mph. There is little chance of rain today with 20% being the highest.

In the news CNN reports Mitt Romney gained slightly in the polls on Barack Obama during last nights debate. Observers report several people were killed during protests in Syria, and the San Francisco Giants took a three games to zero lead over the Detroit Tigers.

You have a 3:00 PM appointment at the dentist office today. Tomorrow you have 11 AM meeting with Terry Collins regarding retirement status.

You have three new emails and four new texts, would you like me to read them to you?

That's pretty much the best idea ever. I don't care what platform you are on, this should be a standard goal for all of them.

Excellent article Rene, I think Apple is crossing this "innovation crisis"; with iOS 6 they introduced some awesome features for iOS such as Shared Photo Streams and Facebook integration which makes it a very complete operating system in terms of specific features, the only one that's perfectly integrated to the cloud in my opinion. Apple services aren't perfect but I think they work well to get things done. They're not introducing groundbreaking features into iOS and there's where the problem relies, most of the people who updated to iOS 6 don't know or use Shared Photo Streams or other features like iCloud tabs and I think there's where Apple needs to focus their marketing. iOS 6 is the version of improving previous features but now if iOS 7 is not groundbreaking in terms of services and/or features I think Apple would be on a big trouble with their costumers, investors and the media.

Google Picasa has been around for 2 years, and is being phased into Google+. Why would I use Photo Streams, if I can only use them on Apple devices? Also, when I use my Android phone, any application that is installed has the potential to be used as a sharing method, with Google's sharing APIs. That means that if I install facebook, I can share my photos in the gallery to facebook. If twitter is installed, I can share to twitter, and the same is applied with applications like instagram, pocket, youtube, and many other social applications. To top it all off, if you have Google Chrome on iOS or Android, you could sync tabs with the desktop version long before Safari introduced it. My point is that the main advantage that Android has over Apple is its flexibility in software and hardware, and the fact that Android is far more feature-rich anf forward-thinking than Apple's iOS. Another disturbing trend that I see with Apple, is that Mac OSX is becoming more like iOS, with the advent of Mountain Lion and its Notification center and Launchpad. I cannot begin to tell you how much those two features from iOS frustrate me. For starters, Launchpad behaves awkwardly and doesn't transfer the Application folder correctly, so I ended up with uninstallers and glitched folders all over the place. I had to install a separate third-party service called QuickPick to get peace of mind. Also, Notification center is hopelessly useless. I barely get any notifications from it, so why is it there? To be fair, Apple makes amazing hardware, however the fact that you said that Photo Streams, iCloud tab syncing, and Facebook Integration are "awesome" features only makes me cringe at what else Apple shall call "innovative" at the next release of iOS.

:It's not about outdated concepts like widgets or settings toggles, or inconsequential interface trends like skeuomorphism. it's about software and services that don't force us to hunt for data or controls, no matter how they're painted up, but that bring data and controls to us, flat or textured."

The second sentence perfectly describes widgets and settings toggles. It shouldn't take users the 4 or 5 steps in iOS to turn on Bluetooth or Wifi. Or to see their to do list.

"It's about an app ecosystem that pushes rather than than waits for us to pull, with demos and refunds, and analytics that delight developers and users alike."

I don't remember whether iOS has a feature to automatically download app updates, but Google Play does. And if you don't like the app you just purchased, you have 15 minutes to get your refund.

And Android absolutely trumps iOS when it comes to user interface. There are some apps (games in particular) that I don't use often. I don't want to see them on my homescreen, so I just leave them tucked in the app drawer until I decide to use them. Meanwhile, my iPhone using friends can't hide Newstand, Stocks, and all the other useless (to them) apps that Apple shipped on the device.

If Apple can't (or just won't) add in the simple things like widgets, or at least give users the option to hide certain apps, how are they going to do the big, "innovative" things mentioned in the article?

And I'm honestly not trying to be "that guy" or a troll by saying that Android has all these things before iOS, but it's a simple truth. iOS hasn't been truly innovative in years. Apple is now playing catch up to the other ecosystems.

If you really think the biggest innovation is turning Bluetooth on and off you are completely missing the point of this article. Just not getting it.

It would be better if My phone knew I was home and connected to My network on its own then disconnect and wifi turns off and does not search until I'm stationary for a set amount of time before looking for and connecting to known networks with the option to ask if you want to connect to unknown networks.

"And Android absolutely trumps iOS when it comes to user interface. There are some apps (games in particular) that I don't use often. I don't want to see them on my homescreen, so I just leave them tucked in the app drawer until I decide to use them. Meanwhile, my iPhone using friends can't hide Newstand, Stocks, and all the other useless (to them) apps that Apple shipped on the device.

If Apple can't (or just won't) add in the simple things like widgets, or at least give users the option to hide certain apps, how are they going to do the big, "innovative" things mentioned in the article?"

Don't give up your day job. If you believe widgets are good UI design, you're wrong.

"Android still hasn't caught up on interface or overall experience"

What in the world is this guy talking about???
Caught up with who? Android is the most modern os in the planet

Try out a GS3, the most refined and user friendly android-based interface and tell me if the overall experience is not 10 better than ios.

are you kidding? it's awful. the menus meld together and are confusing, the user flow is terrible, the icons are bland and generic, widgets are boring.

ios is the supreme example of boringness and obsoletness, and there is NOTHING you can do about it.

and i you dont like the icons on TouchWiz you just install NovaLauncher and you can do WHATEVER you want with the interface.

Adroid is limitless

yea, thats great...I used to have a theme program for my mac that I could change everything and the icons, gets boring after 2 weeks since all the themes are amatuerish. Widgets came on OSX tiger, I use 1, weather widget...widgets are boring and useless. Just like androids stock UI...thats why they had to add customization because its so boring and generic. I'm sure youve got a PC with windows XP installed also how old is that? which is the epitome of boring.

iOS is used for helping through the day and making things easier, not playing with it all day like android users think a phone is for which is why youre bored with iOS.

WTF does OSX, and Windows XP have ANYTHING to do with Android being a bad OS?
the thing about android, is that if there is part of the UI that you dont like, you CAN change it. unlike iOS.
"widgets are Boring and useless"
Right, being able to see all my volume levels , seeing the temperature and weather forcast, pausing/playing/thumb up-ing pandora or Google music (or any music player i use) seeing my calendar events for the day....all without opening up an app sure seems useless to me. not to mention breaking up a 4x5 grid of app icons with something nice looking isn't really boring.

Just because android has bit of a learning curve, doesn't mean the UI isn't great. I actually prefer android, but that is just because i have been using it for the past 3 years. i am comfortable with it, which is why i think Rene thinks the android UI is lacking.

well if you read the post you would understand I was comparing the customizing features...I used it on mac osx, and found customizing got old just as fast as you say iOS got old and boring. Maybe next time read the post instead of instantly thinking, OMG HOW CAN I DEFEND ANDROID TO THE EXTREME. If android can't come up with their own useful, non generic ugly UI, why should I bother with it? if I bought a android, the first thing I have to do is change the UI because I think it's completely horrible? no thanks, and as pointed out by other users there's some things you can't change so you can never get it 100% how you want.

Good, you like widgets. I prefer opening the app and having no clutter on the screen. You also don't need each page to be a full 4x5 grid of icons on iOS.

I hear everyone talking about how iOS's UI looks so much better than Android's UI. I would just like to say that I prefer Android's UI to iOS's. It looks cleaner, it's out of your way, and the stock version of it (the one that ships on the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10) has a nice, monochrome, minimal tone with hints of blue that are visually pleasing to me. And, Android applications that follow the Holo UI guidelines, which include the majority of popular Android apps, have the same qualities. Now as for iOS, my main peeves with it is the pasty white UI that came from the iMac to haunt me on my iPod touch, and the rounded square icons that plague me when I come to homescreen. Also, the Notification Center and Siri UI are ugly as sin. I will not lie, the cloth background is disgusting and you could not pay me to say that it is better than Android's notification bar, which is composed of a pure black bar and a equally black shade, with expandable notifications and a quick link to my phone settings.

That being stated, if you used Android before version 4.0, or if you were using a manufacturer-customized UI like samsung touchwiz, htc sense, or another mutation of Android 4.0 and above, then I could see what you're talking about. In fact, the only manufacturer UI that I can stomach is LG's Optimus UI, and it also suffers from some ugly and unecessary additions to Android.

first, know this: a theme is not the same as a launcher on Android, with a Lanucher you can change the whole interface on an Android phone, you can make it the way YOU want it to look, feel and work, something impossible to do with ios, cuz Apple think their users like easy-dumb-boring interfaces and wont let you change that.

widgets are great, is better to have them that not having them, it shows how modern and powerful is your phoneis.

i use a Windows 7 PC for work, and a Galaxy Note 10.1 for content consumption and creative stuff, my phones are Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5, so no, i'm not using XP, and yes, i know what i'm talking about.

WTF??!!?!? "widgets are great, is better to have them that not having them, it shows how modern and powerful is your phoneis." Are you serious?? So bc my placing a widget on one of the homescreens of those cheaper Android devices (pretty much anything not "flagship" from an OEM) means it powerful/modern?? You, my friend, are a moron.

re: "widgets are great"

You seem like a real young fellow so you are probably unaware, but if you look into the history of "widgets" on *any* OS, you will find that they simply aren't that popular. They have been put forward on OSX, Windows, Linux, and a whole host of other OS's and they have *never* been popular beyond a small minority of users relative to the size of the user base of the OS in question.

You may find this fact awkward, but it's a fact all the same. Your opinion does not trump the facts.

its true that widgets on desktop and laptop computers are not popular at all but they actually are a big part of the android os which is a mobile os and wouldnt really fall into the majority where mobile is concerned and i think thats where this whole "widgets" argument was going. The only thing is.. on this forum yeah that would be true as its for mainly ios users which dont care for widgets.. go to androidcentral.com and you will find a completely different mindset about widgets as that is one of the biggest draws of android which would fall under the customization factor that ios doesnt offer. just my 2cents

ok.. you guys need to let up a bit.. if the guy likes his widgets let him have them. .if he thinks it makes his phone more modern and powerful. so be it. ive actually had iphone 4 and 4s.. i use a mac and an ipad but i did recently switch to the galaxy s3 for my phone. not because of "Widgets" lol but because the phone is a great device. specs wise its pretty high on the food chain and the screen is amazing on par with the iphone if you ask me the camera and video recorder.."ditto".
But one of things that made me switch was the larger screen. yes i know it may be over kill but i like it. i wanted something with a bigger screen since i cant really take my ipad to work with me and other than work im mostly at home. when i happen to have some free time and im out and about i love having my bigger screen so can actually see things on my phone such as videos and text when looking at websites. i actually do a lot of the things i did with my iphone on my ipad so it wasnt a hard move for me..
both android and ios are great OS' and both have much to offer any user but both are also lacking in one form or another. i know plenty of people that use both platforms and love the combo for one reason or another. I am mainly an apple advocate as i have mentioned but i even have a boot camp partition on my mac because unfortunately no one likes to program games for mac as much as for pc so until everyone starts to design games for mac os its still a windows gaming world and i am a gamer lol. sort of lost my way here.. guess i was just trying to say that for me both android and ios have alot to offer. Windows on phones.. not so much. and im actually excited to see what rim has done with blackberry 10.

The Android UI is awful. Loading wheels between photos, messy widgets and gadgets, different looking home screens, and app drawers. The whole thing is a UI nightmare. After using a Nexus 7 and an S III, coming back to my iPhone and iPad was a genuine relief.

Android proves that more is not more. Above all else, what Apple has going for itself is a lone wolf restraint, and a religious reverence for simplicity. Is iOS perfect? Definitely not. But in the UI department it's a philosophy ahead. Apple's strength is how important it values simplicity. Microsoft are the next down from Apple in terms of how much they value simplicity, lately. Microsoft's weakness is the don't understand it.

Go to ubuntu's web site and look at how their OS is for Phone/Computer/TV
This is how iOS should have been improved.
Instead, Apple focused on Siri and iOS maps, both of which are cool, but get boring fast.
Apple is gonna need to revamp their OS user interface to cater to both old and new users.
Because theres only two places, your either in first place, or last.

they really need to do this, but i just dont see it happening in such a drastic way. Apple needs to ease into a new UI. maybe add widgets this time, easier way to toggle wifi,BT,GPS ect next time, getting rid of the app after app after app home screens the following time.
people dont like change, that is why iOS is still so popular. they are all comfortable using iOS and they are sticking with it because they fear the change to something different.

Thankfully I don't need to waste a moment looking up that new Ubuntu phone OS, because I did that homework 2 weeks ago. It's terrible beyond belief, once you really examine it.

Rene. Great article, thanks. So two questions. First, do you believe that IOS7 will be available to the same versions of the iphone as IOS6? Can the 4 and 4S handle a big step forward in terms of a more advanced operating system or will it be designed for the 5 and 5S leaving those of us with older models in need of an upgrade?

Second, do you think Google will release a more complete public version of Google Now for IOS? Obviously we got some of it with the new google voice app and the new maps app but is Google likely to advanced the full, intuitive application?

Thanks.

Good article. Apple is going to have to be very careful to NOT change the main feature that people like about iOS - that it works out of the box. Context sensitive applications are great as long as they aren't confusing to set up. I would think that at least 50% of smartphone owners (no matter the OS) do anything more than change ringtones, backgrounds, and add apps. Heck, I'm a computer guy in my 30s, but I'm not interested in HAVING to modify my OS to make it work.

I have tried pretty much every OS out there: I am a former webOS user that has a Blackberry for work; tried Windows Phone 8 and several Android devices before settling on an iPhone 5 for personal use (came from iPhone 4). It's in the little details, such as being able to hit a single physical button to activate voice control (so you dont have to look at the screen); or having an alarm app (out of the box) that you wont accidently turn off instead of snooze (looking at you, Samsung). Sure, a simple fix, but it shouldnt be necessary for the device to work well.

Keep it simple. Make it "just work" first, then worry about customization.

What happens when there is some type of Siri enabled set-up questions. She asks things like, what is your favourite band? TV shows, Movies, etc. Doing this without voice would be tedious, but it would be very natural to do with voice. Have a 10 minute conversation with your phone when you set up and then it would know some of your personal preferences.

This is how I feel too.

If I had to think of new additions to iOS they'd be practical ones, like these:

Up-to-date app icons (not "live") for weather, clock and calendar apps, only.
A dedicated dictionary app.
A dedicated weather app, on iPad.
Quick access to brightness on iPhone, i.e. a better toggle bar left of mutil-task bar.
Quick reply for texts.
Scrollable folders (what comes to mind is one big gaming folder, woo!)
Reliable iMessage sending and syncing infrastructure.
Clear all button in NC.
X dismiss button on the right on notification banners (yes, I know the gesture).
Per-app password option (not different passwords, but on/off option).
OS settings Siri commands.
B&W edit option for both photos and videos when editing them.
Ability to copy part of a text message.
Ability to cancel outgoing text. And to cancel a-yet-to-read-"Delivered" iMessage.
App direct-dev feedback: users can report a bug and dev sees it in iTunes connect.
Silent ringer glyph in status bar.
Auto-merge iMessage convos for same person.

And a general OS spit-shine!

Theses types of practical changes.

I really hope iOS gets a huge makeover with iOS 7. I know Apple can come up with new features no other company has.

I just have to say, Rene, that as good as this article is, whether you're an Apple fan or not (which I am) you write very well. I was intrigued by the article, but more than that I was immersed in your writing style. Well done.

I'm not really a fan of Apple, but I am of Rene Ritchie.
This article here is brilliantly written.
Rene is the ONLY reason why I come to iMore.
BlackBerry 10 is the future.

I like reading about technology and the latest/newest stuff. I'm a bigger fan of people who know what they're talking about... like Rene Ritchie. I'm entitled to like what I wish... I don't secretly like Apple. I own a mac desktop but a blackberry phone.

I'm the same. I mean I love my iPod Touch 5 and my iPad 3, and my 2 Apple TV's. But that's only because they're fantastic devices for me. Not just because they're Apple products. I've never owned a Mac computer. Too expensive. I've never owned an iPhone. I have an LG phone (just a cheap one) running Android. But I just love technology of all kinds. I don't slam Samsung, or other companies running Android. I don't claim that Android is better, or that iOS is better. I happen to prefer the iOS system and ecosystem. And that's not to say there's anything wrong with Android. iOS is just my preference.

It IS expensive... lol but that's great Paul. Sometimes it's challenging to go on sites and read/engage about technology and trends without getting criticized, attacked, made fun of etc. because you're apparently not loyal to a particular company or device. I'm loyal to my family, friends and the United States. Apple, Samsung, BlackBerry, Google nor Microsoft is taking care of me or paying my bills. They're all fighting for my dollar... and I will gladly watch:)
Here's to 2013 bringing in some cool new devices and OS's!!

I get that someone has tipped you off on the sly to the fact that iOS 7 will be amazing and that you are passing this on to us, and I do appreciate that. However some of your statements are so hyperbolic as to be simple nonsense.

Devices that manage themselves for example? Futurist claptrap.

It's a nice vision you present, but Apple is so far from this goal at the moment that to suggest it's all going to come together next year with iOS 7 is total BS. It is currently impossible for example, even to get all one's email to stay in sync on all iOS and OSX devices and to be present on all devices at the same time. Apps cannot even update themselves without you opening them up and forcing it to. Most of this stuff is years off, even optimistically.

I'm sure iOS 7 will indeed be exciting but I think you've gone off the deep end here.

I really hope Apple can bring in some new customizable options with ios 7. we already know apple is capable of widgets, live wallpapers, and themes because of jailbreaking. but if apple actually supported them so that everyone didn't have to go through the effort of jailbreaking devices, that'd be amazing. sometimes my display just gets boring to look at, and yeah, however petty this may seem, I'd still like to have these features. Compared to android, apple is so far behind. ios needs to be more flexible.

I disagree that Apple is "so far behind". Their development tools are much better than Android's and iOS apps are typically more efficient with the CPU, battery and other resources. The iOS kernel is based on OS X which is Apple's version of Unix and Android's is Linux which is Linus' version of Unix. They are quite similar. Malware is much less of a problem and they have the best customer retention of any smartphone platform.

What is limiting their market share is the amount they charge for their phones. Its the same thing limiting them in the laptop & desktop market.

I would like to say that the "malware" problem with Android is non-existent if you only shop in Google's Play Store. The truth is, that when you own a computer, be it a PC, Mac, iPhone, or Android, you have to be responsible for what you download, and if you install malware on it in exchange for free smileys, then its your own fault. Also, the reason why Android has a security problem is because of the insistence of Manufacturers to include heavy custom UI's and useless bloatware from carriers. If every Android phone used stock Android OS, then security updates could be pushed over the air whenever the need arises.

Oh, and about iOS's development tools, Android has better, and easier tools to accomodate developers, and do not force you to pay 100 dollars every year to publish to their app market, unlike Apple's App Store. For me, as a small developer, Android is the best place to post my applications.

Where they have the ability to improve on the "at-a-glance" information is in the notifications section. The app grid area is what it is and serves it's function well. There are already mechanisms to put up widgets in the notifications area (stocks and weather), and it is the part of the phone that should be more emphasized.

In fact, I would propose to you that the primary interface of the phone should be an improved notifications section. This is usually the area that you would want to see first, as it has all of the things you want to be notified with. You know, unlock the screen and the notifications and widgets pop up. The App Grid will become available when you want to find a specific app.

I think that this is the way to go with the iPhone, because it is primarily a communications device. The iPad is a different story.

It's pretty simple for apple to make a interface switch. Just give you the option to use the Classic IOS view or new view.

I really thought a lot about the comments that were being posted here; the one thing that I came up with is that the toggle switches that everyone's yearning for shouldn't be an issue if a phone is designed correctly. Why turn off Bluetooth if it's such a power-saver that it's not worth it to turn it off at the end of the day? Why turn off WiFi if it's engineered in such a way that leaving it on 24/7 has minimal impact on battery? Why the need to turn GPS on/off if it isn't impacting your battery because it's designed well?

At the end of the day, it's about design and reliability. Provide a capable, solid OS for a phone that is fantastic at power management and has a suitable battery to match, and there's no need to provide widgets for people to manage their power. The same is true about other extraneous widgets.

Where I think Apple could improve, however, is in their at-a-glance presentation of information. A live representation of weather on the weather icon, accurate time on the clock icon, and other small tweaks would definitely keep the signature iOS look while providing much more basic information that would be relevant. And hey, it wouldn't hurt to throw more customizable widgets into the Notification Center pull-down. Clean, simple, organized.

At the end of the day, I want the Apple experience - simplicity that just works. And I want it all in a package that is great a presenting information at-a-glance so that my interactions and effort required are minimal, and I can get on with my day.

My iPhone 5 seems to be more sensitive to light conditions, that is one toggle I wish they made it easier to access. With a volume rocker, why not put brightness in the application tray? I agree with your other toggle points.

Only wish for notification screen, is to have some notifications remain listed. My work email account contains important emails left unread, flagged emails (in my system) are less urgent. I'd love to have the option to have my work email continuously listed on my lock screen. Or any other notification I find important enough, like a medication reminder for example. Long time iOS users can unlock their phone without looking at it, missing the notifications.

Well said Rene...exactly why what I've seen about BB10 is making me considering a switch from iPhone. I had a Palm Pre+ in the past, and still miss the better integration and overall usability of it. BB10 looks great, and my first thought was that it is going to force Apple to do some significant changes to iOS7. Not enough to add some 'cute' features...we need better, actionable notifications, better integrations, use of gestures for enhanced interface controls, etc. Hopefully they'll move rather quickly, and not wait until October.

Thoughtful prediction. One issue I see is that Apple needs to get a whole lot better at services and iCloud functionality. iCloud file management is astoundingly awful, and service competitors like Google have some great products. For example Google Now is has a leg up on Siri. Apple is a hardware company who can put out some darn good software. To do what Rene expects will require Apple to up their game in new ways.

With iOS7 the first thing I want to see is better integration across apps, and not just Apple apps. The second thing I want to see is the ability to select alternative defaults for "core" features like maps and web. Finally, I want what Rene describes. I want to tell Siri to do things like automatically put the phone in silent mode when a calendar entry is tagged as busy, but to ring if a call comes in from my wife, but all of that only when I'm at the office. And so on.

Agreed. iCloudius should at least stop wiping out my Safari bookmarks. Annoying! And barriers to being a fully fledged OS should be removed. Networking? User accounts? File system? How about something simple, like Print to PDF?

Absolutely spot on piece. Couldn't agree more. If they are unable to pull these things off with iOS 7, or at least make large strides in these directions, to me, it will be a head scratcher.

Apple's problem isn't what color a background is, if it's leather or abstract.

Sit at a Mac, open a finder window. Resize the window. Note the folders in it stay as they are and get hidden as you make the window smaller. It's insane.

Try to name a photograph on an iPad or iPhone. You can't. It's insane.

Apple is the most counter intuitive platform out there today, it is so old fashioned.

well written Derek K style ;-)

I always liked the iphone form factor but iOS never did it for me till recently with they user friendly notifications but I would like to see more and feel iOS7 will bring it to us

Good post. Apple should be very careful to NOT change the main feature that will people like about iOS - which this works out of the box. Context sensitive applications are great as long as they aren't confusing to put upward. I would believe that at least 50% out of smartphone owners (no matter the OS) do anything over change ringtones, backgrounds, and add apps. Heck, I'm a computer guy in my 30s, however I'm never interested in HAVING to modify my OS in order to create it efforts. -Dario

and now you look at how everyones talking about the iohone 6. DONT BUY A 5S PEOPLE. wait for the 6. youll be glad you did