We saw a preview of iOS 6, the latest major version of the iOS mobile operating system from Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) during the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June 2012. With the final release of the firmware update taking place Sept. 19, the iOS 6 now has completed over six months. And if the ongoing chatter related to the next iOS release has any authenticity, iOS 7 will not take the usual 12 months time to come into play.

As per current rumors, Apple is all set to make a significant overhaul in the user interface (UI) of iOS 7, something that has made the Cupertino-tech giant bring in its hardware design chief Jony Ive to the scene to lead the human-interface team.

But until Apple allows us to have a quick look into the next major iOS version, which we can expect in this year’s WWDC in June, provided the iPhone-maker sticks to its tradition, no one can predict exactly what iOS 7 is going to offer. However, that does not stop people from imagining, and it’s due to sheer imagination that we have already seen several iOS 7 concepts and ideas from a number of designers of late.

Adding to the list, here’s another iOS 7 concept from designer F. Bianco, who has tried to maintain the basic look and functions of iOS 6, while adding some useful changes to improve the user experience. In a set of images and a four-minute-long video, Bianco has explained many new iOS 7 concept features and improvements including a new lock screen, widgets, mission control and more.

The improved lock screen concept by Bianco looks more useful. It includes a sideways swipe across the time and date that reveals toddles for Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Do Not Disturb options. The camera option in the lock screen can also be replaced with some other options like the Phone, Clock or Reminders.

Bianco’s take on widgets is also quite fresh. After tapping on an app’s icon, the respective widget pops up quick information without requiring the user to launch the app. The instantly accessible settings screen that can slide out from the side also looks handy.

Among all the improvements, projected by Bianco’s iOS 7 concept, the most appealing and useful one is the Quick Reply that works on the home screen, lock screen, and most likely, in-app also. It reminds us of the poplar jailbreak app called biteSMS.

“As a long-time user of biteSMS (a feature-rich jailbreak app replacing the native Messages), it’s one of the only features I cannot live without on a non-jailbroken device, and the sooner Apple brings in this kind of implementation, the better,” said Ben Reid of Redmond Pie.

The same feature got the attention of Cody Lee of iDownloadBlog as well.

“While I think most folks are hoping for a bigger UI change than this, I don’t think many would argue if Apple added in some of these features. I particularly like the biteSMS-like ‘quick reply’ one. It looks like it belongs in iOS, and would be very useful,” said Lee.

Lee, who seemed quite impressed with the Download and Shelf and Mission Control features, said that if Apple considers adding these improvements into iOS 7, “they’d do them more elegantly.”

“I’m trying not to get my hopes up for iOS 7. Apple has a track record for doing small, iterative updates. But between the growing competition from Samsung and Google, and the recent chatter regarding iOS 7 delays, that’s getting harder and harder to do,” Lee added.

Reports surfaced earlier this week saying that iOS 7 was running behind schedule, but would bring some significant UI changes. John Gruber of Daring Fireball even said that the changes were so big “that iOS engineers with carry privileges all have some sort of polarizing filter on their iPhone displays” to conceal them from other people.

Gruber said that Apple might introduce a “new Mini-style full-size iPad in April.” However, he also added that if it doesn’t happen in April, there could be “a standalone event in May rather than hold it until WWDC in (I presume) June.”

“I don't think they would want to unveil the new iPad at WWDC alongside iOS 7, because the new iPad won't ship with iOS 7. It'd be weird to introduce the iPad and do demos of crufty old iOS 6 and then moments later show off the new hotness of iOS 7,” said Gruber. That said, the upcoming WWDC is more likely to be a software-oriented show. And if a summer launch of the next-generation iPhone, aka iPhone 5S, indeed turns out to be true, we can expect a new iOS version to show up during that time too.