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Own an Apple device? Get ready for iOS 7

4:55 AM, Sep 5, 2013   |    comments
Apple's IOS mobile operating system has been redesigned.(Photo: Apple)
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LOS ANGELES - Like it or not, your Apple mobile device is going to look and act differently within a few weeks.

On Tuesday, Apple will introduce the latest iPhone, and part of the tradition of the new device introduction is an operating system update that, at some point, most of us upgrade to. So even without springing for the new phone, your older iPhone gets a free new coat of paint - and potential pain - with tools in different places and different ways to access apps.

Unlike past upgrades, iOS 7 is a from-the-ground-up overhaul. Apple CEO Tim Cook calls it "the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of iPhone" in 2007.

Basic functions have been altered. For instance, to go from one e-mail to the next, instead of swiping to the left or right, you swipe upward and downward. For consumers, "It'll be a little shocking at first," says Evan Spiridellis, who runs the JibJab e-commerce company with brother Gregg. "It's a totally new feel."

JibJab has been working with a test version of iOS 7 over the summer. "After a few days of flipping around, people are going to love it."

Developer Joel Housman of Alexandria, Va., says consumers will also scream loudly, in the negative, upon the iOS 7 release, much as "every time Facebook makes an interface change, they complain about it."

It takes most consumers time to learn the intricacies of a new device, he says. The iOS overhaul will force folks "to learn how to do things differently" even on their current phones.

There are 600 million Apple mobile devices in use worldwide - including just over 60 million of last year's new model, the iPhone 5. So way more people will upgrade to the new operating system then pick up the new phone, which is expected to be in stores by the end of September. The last update was widely accepted: IOS 6 is installed on more than 93% of Apple devices, according to the company. The new update works on devices back to the iPhone 4, the iPad 2 and fifth-generation iPod Touch.,

Apple will begin reminding folks, when iOS 7 is available, that it's time to upgrade the software.

The iOS 7 launch comes in a year when Apple's once-strong lead over competitors has begun to fade. Google's Android - and the hot-selling Samsung Galaxy series of smartphones - now dominate worldwide, although the iPhone has the edge here in the United States.

Beyond a new coat of paint and stylistic upgrade that will see buttons and icons in new places, look for:

• Instant app updates. In the past, you had to manually update each app when changes were offered. Now they'll be done automatically in the background.

• Control Center. The eight most commonly used features will reside on the Control Center screen, which can be accessed by one quick swipe. So instead of going to the Settings icon, opening it up and turning on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, you'll find those options in Control Center, along with Flashlight, Camera, clock and calculator.

• Instagram-like features in the camera app. Filters to pretty-up photos are added, along with the ability to shoot photos in a square format. That means you won't have to crop your pictures anymore for inclusion in Instagram.

Van Baker, an analyst at Gartner, says Apple had to make the software change. "The trade press was getting very negative to how stale and old-looking iOS was," he says. "In truth, most users don't care. Nonetheless, it was worthwhile to do it and give it a fresh new look."

And Gregg Spiridellis says despite the pain some consumers might feel initially, it will be worth the upgrade. "It feels like you have a new phone," he says. "It's that freshness of getting something new, even though you didn't have to pay for it."

Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY

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