Apple iPhone and iPad owners are eager to see what will be revealed at next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2013, as Apple confirmed its plans to unveil its next-generation of iOS software, called iOS 7. Apple is also expected to introduce new Macs, including MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptops, as well as a Mac Pro desktop and the next version of Mac OS X, which will be version 10.9.

But before we get carried away, let’s talk iOS 7. Since longtime iOS chief Scott Forstall got the boot from Apple in October, lead designer Sir Jony Ive has taken over “human interface” duties at the company, and has reportedly spent a great deal of time redesigning iOS for iOS 7, removing the operating system’s many skeuomorphic elements -- those ornamental elements that only serve as decorating metaphors instead of functional features, like the lines on the yellow Notepad app and the green felt texture on the Game Center app -- and replacing them with “flat,” simple features and textures.

While inside sources have claimed iOS 7 -- code-named “Innsbruck” -- resembles the flat design of Microsoft’s metro interface used for Windows 8 and Windows Phone, we have not seen any alleged photos of the new operating system, until now. Sonny Dickson, who also leaked photos of the iPad Mini before its release last year, posted new photos on his blog and Twitter page showing off the new design in iOS 7. While not a major redesign, the subtle changes certainly look legitimate enough to be considered. Check out the alleged iOS 7 photos below:

As you’ll notice, the icons in iOS 7 don’t look completely redesigned, just simplified from a design standpoint. Gone is the shine, gloss and shadow from iOS 7, and instead the apps’ colors look bolder and more prominent in this early photo showcasing iOS 7.

The Notes and Game Center apps from the photo look too blurry to discern, but it does look like they’ve been redesigned in iOS 7 as previously reported. Other apps, like Mail, Camera, Settings, and iTunes, look largely unchanged in iOS 7, but again, we’d like to see a less blurry version of this photo to be able to corroborate any of these design changes before we say this is definitely iOS 7.

These alleged photos may not be the real iOS 7, but there’s a great chance that they are. Apple’s iOS ecosystem is beloved by its users, so it’s likely that Jony Ive didn’t want to make any wholesale sweeping changes to the overall look of iOS 7, but simply clean it up a little bit and remove the unneeded elements, such as the glossy effects on the app icons. According to 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman, iOS 7 has removed the physical metaphors from iOS 7, and the design is largely “black, white, and flat all over.”

“While the core elements of those apps are mostly white, each app has been given a unique button color,” Gurman said. “Essentially, each app has a white base with a respective color theme. For example, the Calendar app could potentially have red buttons, while Messages could have green controls.”

Apple has also reportedly changed the Lock Screen in iOS 7, removing the semi-transparent time bar at the top and replacing it with a “shine-free, black interface.” A number of other features have been changed for iOS 7, including the keyboard, the wallpapers on the Home screens and the Notification Center, but these features are largely expected to work the same in iOS 7, and just look different than what iOS users are accustomed to.

Besides the look and feel of the new operating system, iOS 7 is also said to introduce a number of new features, including deep integration with Flickr and Vimeo, and enhanced support for Maps and Siri. Considering the broad range of changes in iOS 7, Apple has reportedly borrowed engineers from its Mac OS X team to finish iOS 7 on time for WWDC 2013.

What do you think of this alleged iOS 7 photo? Do you believe it’s real? What are you most excited to see in iOS 7? What changes do you hope Apple implements in this build? Let us know in the comments section at the bottom of the page, and for more on iOS 7, check out the features we’re hoping to see in iOS 7, as well as the improvements to Siri we’re hoping to see when Apple unveils iOS 7 at WWDC.

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