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Apple seeds Golden Master iOS 7 to devs, calls Sep 18 ship date

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Updated Most of the attention on Apple's Tuesday event in Cupertino was focused on the company's latest iPhones, but Tim Cook & Co did have some news under their hats regarding iOS 7 and Apple's iLife and iWork suites of iOS apps, as well.

Unsurprisingly, both the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S will ship with iOS 7 preinstalled. But owners of current iPhones and iPads will be able to update their devices in short order, and developers got their hands on the final, "golden master" build of the new OS on Tuesday.

The GM version is reportedly available for download via Apple's developer portal as "Build 11A465," and unofficial mirrors are already showing up on file-sharing and torrent sites around the globe.

Non-developers will have to wait a little longer to get the new version, but not too long. A free update will begin shipping to owners of the iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, iPad mini, and fifth-generation iPod touch on September 18 – two days before the new iPhone models are due to hit retailers.

In addition to a much-vaunted new "flat" UI, iOS 7 brings more than 200 new features, though Apple cautions that not every feature will be available on every device.

Among the new goodies are Control Center and Notification Center, which make it easier to get at frequently accessed controls and information; beefed-up multitasking that updates application content in the background; support for file sharing via Apple's ad hoc Wi-Fi AirDrop service; Find My iPhone Activation Lock, which can remotely wipe data and lock down lost or stolen phones; and improved UIs for the Photos app and the Safari browser.

Some other new features are limited to certain regions or languages. For example, Siri's new male and female voices will only be available in US English, French, or German upon launch. Apple's new iTunes Radio streaming service will also debut with the iOS 7 launch, but only in the US.

Apple CEO Tim Cook did throw in one extra treat for iOS 7 users, however, which is that the company's iLife and iWork apps for iOS – including Keynote, Pages, Numbers, iMovie, and iPhoto – will be available as free downloads once the new OS launches. Previously each had cost between $5 and $10.

"No other platform has any apps like these," Cook said. "We think that all iOS devices are made even better with these apps, and almost all of our customers want these apps."

When users activate "a new iOS 7 device," Cook said, they will be taken to a web page that allows them to download the entire bundle of apps for free with one tap. It wasn't immediately clear whether this giveaway applied only to the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S, and Apple did not immediately respond to El Reg's request for clarification. ®

Update

An Apple spokesman got back to us with more info on the free apps offer:

Just to clarify, we announced that we are making iPhoto, iMovie, Pages, Numbers and Keynote, available as a free download for all devices (not just iPhone 5s and 5c) activated as of September 1 that are running iOS 7. For a full list of iOS 7-compatible devices, please visit: http://www.apple.com/ios/whats-new/.

To be doubly clear, "as of September 1" in this case means on or after September 1. Devices activated before that date are not eligible for the free apps, regardless of whether they are capable of running iOS 7. So while the offer doesn't exclusively apply to new iDevices, your device does at least have to be newly purchased.

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