updated 10:00 pm EDT, Wed May 1, 2013
Ambitious update said to make over look, add features to mobile OS
Following on the heels of rumors that Apple reassigned engineers from other projects (including the next OS X release, 10.9) in order to help ensure completion, a new report from unnamed sources has said that iOS 7, the forthcoming major update to the company's mobile platform, will ship on time despite pressures. Anonymous informers told AllThingsD that while the extra help was needed, the update "will ship on time" and debut as scheduled at this year's Worldwide Developer's Conference (WWDC).
According to the report, the atmosphere at Apple is similar to 2007, when the company reallocated resources and personnel from the then-current 10.5 Leopard effort to help ensure that the original iPhone was set to ship on time, though the present situation is "not as much of a fire drill" as on that occasion. The next release of iOS is said to offer a number of new features, but the most prominent change is said to be a design overhaul by Apple design chief Sir Jonathan Ive and his team, which took over software design following the ouster of former iOS head Scott Forstall. Although the iOS and OS X teams are both under the direction of Craig Federighi, Ive was tasked with coming up with a new unified design -- the first major overhaul to the overall look of iOS since its inception.
Rumors have said that Ive has launched a new, "flatter" aesthetic that has also been described as "spartan" and "elegant," but which does away with much if not all of the "skeuomorphic" design that mimicked real-world items, such as a leather datebook for the Calendar app. Hints of the forthcoming design are said to be found in current iOS apps such as Reminders and Passbook.
Sharing the stage with iOS 7 at the WWDC will be the first look at the next version of OS X, 10.9. Little is firmly known about the latter, but as Ive is also in charge of software design for that as well, users are likely to see a great deal of design crossover between the two. In addition, the company is likely to continue importing ideas from iOS that would work well on the Mac, and vice-versa as it did with Mountain Lion.
The extent of the changes may have been the source of allegations that the team were running behind schedule, but the latest report seems to reassure developers and users that iOS 7 will arrive on time -- though when exactly that time will be remains to be seen.
While OS X 10.9 is expected to be released publicly sometime in late July (following the July releases of Lion and Mountain Lion), no firm timetable for iOS 7 has been revealed. As with OS X, much may depend on whether Apple is making any major "under-the-hood" changes that would require developers to recompile or rewrite apps. If so, the release dates may get pushed back from the summer timeframe after all. Should the biggest changes in both iOS 7 and 10.9 be feature additions and overhauled design, the final release could come fairly quickly -- supporting rumors of new iPhone and Mac products coming in the fall as promised by CEO Tim Cook.