Today your iPhone and iPad change forever – here's what's new in iOS 7

Apple's OS overhaul is finally here – find out how it will rejuvenate your ageing iThing
Apple iOS 7

The time has come for your old iPhone or iPad to be rejuvenated. Apple's iOS7 update rolls out today, bringing with it changes across the board.

But what does iOS 7 mean for your aging iThing? We've picked apart how the major changes to Apple's mobile operating system will affect your iPhone – and what it means for you.

What does it look like?

Apple iOS 7
Apple iOS 7

The first thing you'll notice is that iOS 7 looks very different. Gone are the skeuomorphic icons, textures and shadows of yore, and in their place are flat blocks of colour, courtesy of iPhone design guru Jony Ive. The fonts are less blocky, too – but if you find them difficult to read, you can bold them up from the accessibility menu. Transparent "frosted glass" panes are used for menus and control panels, while the default wallpapers are substantially more colourful than Apple's previous efforts.

Siri's also had a cosmetic tweak – you can now choose from male and female voice options, while the digital assistant, has more control of your phone and includes features to make it more car-friendly.

So what's new?

Apple iOS 7

The biggest change in iOS 7 is the Control Center. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and you'll bring up a panel with controls for music playback, brightness, and commonly-used features like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and orientation lock. Apple's also placed links to the camera and calculator apps, timer and even a flashlight button at the botton of the Control Center.

Swiping down from the top of the screen brings up the Notification Center from iOS 6, with calendar info, a weather summary and stock info – when will Apple realise that not everyone cares about stocks? Double-tapping the Home button, meanwhile, displays an overhauled multitasking menu – which now comes with preview screenshots of your apps as well as icons.

What about the features I can't see?

Apple iOS 7

The changes aren't merely cosmetic – in iOS 7, you'll be able to tweak several of the settings that underpin the phone. App updates can now be downloaded automatically – no more nagging red circle on the App Store icon – and you can set your iPhone to automatically download data in messages and e-mails rather than having to wait until you open the app. 

iOS 7 also adds an NFC-esque file-sharing platform called AirDrop, letting you wirelessly push photos and other digital goodies to your friends.

What about photos?

Apple iOS 7

Apple's completely overhauled its Camera app for iOS 7 with a minimalist black-and-white interface – and you can now swipe between video, photo, panorama and square picture modes. Yes, Apple's hacking a divot out of Instagram's turf, with square-cropped photos and a selection of creative filters. You'll also be able to take HDR photos on your iPad, finally. 

The Photos app has been tweaked substantially, too – iOS 7 automatically organises your snaps into Moments, Collections and Years, using the location and time data so that you can pick out, for example, all the photos you took on that holiday to Morocco. Or that wet weekend in Margate. You can also view your pictures on a map based on where they were taken, Instagram-style.

Will it work on my iPhone or iPad?

Apple iOS 7

The iOS 7 update will work on iPhone 4 or newer, iPad 2 or newer, iPad Mini and iPod Touch 5th-gen or newer.

We've only scratched the surface of iOS 7 here – there's much more besides including full-screen browsing, a new App Store and iTunes Radio, so make sure you check out our Things You Need to Know About iOS 7 feature – and look out for our full iOS 7 review