Apple releases iOS 7 for existing iPhone, iPad upgrades

The Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant dishes out its latest mobile operating system, which to even long-time using iPhone and iPad users will be a welcome fresh lick of paint.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor
Image: Apple; Screenshot: ZDNet

You may have to wait a few more days — perhaps a little longer depending on store supplies — until you can get your hands on the latest Apple smartphones. But existing Apple device users can now download and upgrade to the latest major mobile software version.

Apple opened up its servers for users to download the new software just after 1 pm ET on Wednesday.

The latest software version is is compatible with iPhone 4 handsets and later, iPad 2 tablets and later, and iPod touch (5th generation) devices. (And don't forget to backup first.)

iOS 6 and earlier users can upgrade over-the-air (on compatible devices) by navigating to "Software Update" in the "General" section of the device's settings. Past experience suggests while these downloads will be slow as millions of users download the software at the same time. Also, because the size of some of the files are huge, downloading over a Wi-Fi connection is recommended. Due to its size, you may have to delete some content from your device.

Alternatively, Windows and Mac users can connect their compatible iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches to the latest version of iTunes 11.1 (which must be installed to use iOS 7), and upgrade by selecting the "Check for Upgrade" button in their device's summary window.  

Or, users can download the software bundle (.IPSW) files from Apple's website for offline installations in the coming hours. (Enterprise users can use Apple's Phobos server for download links.) 

iOS 7, the seventh major iteration of the mobile platform, includes more than 200 new features, including a brand new bright and colorful user interface. In a bid to appeal to the enterprise and prosumer crowd, the software also comes with a number of business-ready features.

Many of the reviews were glowing in favor of iOS 7 — in some cases more so than the two new smartphones, the premium iPhone 5s and the lower-cost iPhone 5c. 

From sister site CNET, editors Jessica Dolcourt and Jason Parker dubbed the redesign in line with Apple's "sharp, clean, almost cutting aesthetic." Pixel Envy's Nick Heer called the software a "truly sublime experience," but also looked at the whole picture. "Updating to iOS 7 really does feel like getting a brand new phone," he said. Meanwhile, USA Today's Edward Baig floated the idea of holding off upgrading devices because the software alone "dresses up" existing devices. 

And in ZDNet's review, we compared the long-standing features with new functionality and design, calling iOS 7 "an old soul with style and substance."

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