Apple iOS 7 overhaul may push core app refresh to 2014

Apple's comprehensive overhaul of iOS 7 could see some of the new features delayed until 2014, insiders warn, with the challenges in redesigning the iPhone and iPad platform forcing a staggered release. iOS 7, the next significant release, will introduce "sweeping" changes to the appearance of the UI as well as the functionality of email and calendar apps, among others, insiders tattled to Bloomberg, with the possibility that the scale of the task may mean not all elements make the expected release date, roughly believed to be September 2013.

Instead, the insiders claim, Apple might debut its aesthetic alterations first, and then follow up in future iterations with new features to the core iOS apps. Most noticeable is a shift away from so-called skeuomorphic design, which attempts to replicate real-world objects such as day-planners and file cards using on-screen graphics that resemble them.

That style of design, though making iOS one of the more easily-grasped platforms in the smartphone and tablet space, has also left the software looking comparatively dated, with the core interface little modified since the first generation on the original iPhone. Changing it is the responsibility of designer Jonathan Ive, who has reportedly been shaking up Apple's internal processes with the project, just as much as he has been threatening the existing UI.

For instance, insiders say, Ive is now encouraging more communication between hardware and software teams, which previously – such as under former CEO Steve Jobs – would have been kept in isolation. That interaction also apparently includes bringing some members of the Mac team on to help the mobile software redesign, a temporary measure which has some history given Apple did the same thing in the run up to the original iOS release.

In the center of the endeavors is Ive himself, who is supposedly "methodically reviewing" all fo the new designs. That's meant to be a preventative measure to avoid the Apple Maps saga of 2012, but also keeps him centrally updated in the process as a whole. The design chief also regularly attends meetings held by the software teams, it's said, taking a more passive role while getting up to speed with the challenges of interface coding.

Chatter of a "flatter" iOS 7 broke earlier this week, with reports that the aesthetic was being tamed so as to leave it looking less dated and more akin to the "pure technology" ethos Microsoft chased with its Metro interface on Windows Phone. Other leaks indicated a new notification center which would gather together at-a-glance updates, along with a fresh batch of app icons.

Apple is expected to give a preview of iOS 7 at WWDC 2013, to be held in early June.