CUPERTINO, Calif. — One of the best things about Apple's latest iPhones is the slick new iOS 7 software that runs the devices. But that souped-up operating system could end up hurting sales — because the free software upgrade will also work on iPhones released since 2010, giving owners of the older models less incentive to buy Apple's newest phones, the 5C and the 5S.
Although the iPhone 5C is less expensive than its predecessor, the iPhone 5, iOS 7 almost made it look fancier than previous generations. As an iPhone 5 owner, I was feeling a bit envious until I remembered that I'll be able to spiff up my device, too, when the software is released Wednesday. The operating system will work on the iPhone 4 and later models, iPad 2s and subsequent versions, and the iPod Touch that came out late last year.
Apple's iOS 7 looks much different from previous versions of the operating system because it no longer displays iPhone apps as three-dimensional objects meant to mirror their real-world counterparts. The icons instead are flatter and more colorful.
The software makes it easier to navigate around an iPhone and adds compelling features, including the ability to stream music through an advertising-supported service, iTunes Radio, and five free apps that used to cost anywhere from 99 cents to $4.99 apiece. The free apps are Apple's photo-editing tool, iPhoto, and video-editing program, iMovie, plus work-oriented apps called Pages, Numbers and Keynote.
Apple doesn't appear to be removing any popular apps built into the operating system, as best as I could tell.
The new system also empowers users to access other open apps more easily by clicking twice on the home button. When you do that, the apps are displayed as tiles that can be scrolled across horizontally.