Soon enough, you may be able to use your iPhone to pay for the groceries, tune in to a new iRadio service and easily retrieve emergency information from anywhere around the world. These are just a few of the features we may see in iOS 7, the next update to Apple's mobile OS. As June’s WWDC event steadily approaches, here’s a look at some of the most prominent iOS 7 rumors circulating on the Web.
Simpler, 'Flat' UI
Apple may ditch its skeuomorphic design and opt for a more flat interface with iOS 7, according to a The Wall Street Journalreport from March. Jony Ive, Apple’s hardware design chief, will be spearheading the software’s development and has reportedly suggested a more “flat” interface that is simpler than the current iOS. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber also writes that the next iOS may see a “rather significant system-wide overhaul,” although we’ll have to wait until Apple rolls out the software to know for sure.
Apple’s next iPhone may use image recognition instead of a passcode to grant user access to the device, according to a patent published earlier this year. As stated in the filing, the device would present a user with images from his or her iPhoto or iCloud account and ask questions related to the picture. The authentication process could also involve presenting more than one image since friends and acquaintances are likely to recognize people in your photos. If the system chooses a picture of an object or place rather than people, the user would be asked to provide a nickname tied to these personal items.
Integrated Mobile Payments
Apple may be looking to delve even further into the mobile wallet arena in its next major software update. With iOS 6 we saw the introduction of Passbook, which houses everything from movie tickets to boarding passes, and iOS 7 may allow you to use your iPhone to make in-store purchases. Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty speculates that Apple could roll out a “killer app” for the iPhone 5S that could center on mobile payments, similar to the way Siri became the standout selling point for the iPhone 4S. Last year, Apple was granted a patent describing a system that would send credit card payments directly to your iTunes account.
Automatic app updates
No one likes to deal with those pesky little notifications that pop up on your home screen every time an app update is available. With its next mobile operating system, Apple could automatically keep all of your games and apps up to date so that you don’t have to. Of course, this has yet to be confirmed, but various news outlets and concept videos have speculated on this idea. Wouldn’t it be great if we could choose which apps would auto-update and which ones would notify us?
Apple is expected to launch its own Web-based radio service (similar to Pandora) sometime this year, and if this rumor turns out to be, true we’ll probably see an app version in iOS 7. Universal Music Group and Warner Music are reportedly among Apple’s first radio license signees, and the service is said to be designed to help iTunes users discover new music, according to The Verge.
Location-based emergency app
Apple could be working on an app that would help travelers quickly access emergency information based on their location, according to a patent titled “Location- Based Emergency Information.” “When a person travels abroad, emergencies can occur,” the patent reads. “For example, the person can become injured in an accident, be a victim of a crime, or lose their travel documents. In those situations, having knowledge of contact information for local emergency services or the pertinent consular services can be beneficial.” It’s unclear if we’ll actually see this technology in future iPhones, but if does materialize, we hope it works better than Apple Maps.
Apple is expected to introduce its next-generation mobile software at WWDC in June, but the update probably won’t roll out until at least a few months later. Historically, Apple releases the next version of iOS alongside new iPhone launches, just like it did in October 2011 with iOS 5 and in September 2012 with iOS 6. However, this is the first time Apple’s hardware design chief Jony Ive has been put in charge of iOS development, and the company is reportedly behind schedule. “What I’ve heard: iOS 7 is running behind, and engineers have been pulled from OS X 10.9 to work on it,” wrote Daring Fireball’s John Gruber.