Apple turned a lot of heads this summer when it announced a brand new operating system: iOS 7. With its new offering, Apple hopes to silence critics and take a big step in its ongoing battle with Android for the biggest slice of the smartphone market share pie. In many ways, the new OS is a return to form for Apple, but it's also a very ambitious departure from the company's typical minimalist interface. Apple admits that the recent overhaul represents the biggest change to the OS since its inception. While that announcement has been a source of excitement for Apple enthusiasts, it has left many wondering what the transition from old to new will look like.

How, exactly, is iOS 7 different, and how will it affect Apple products? And what will this change signify for app developers and users who want to run old apps on the new system or vice versa? Read on to find out. (Get up-to-the-minute Apple news on Twitter. Check out Apple: iExperts to Follow on Twitter.)

iOS 7: The Good

Improved AirDrop
One of the most impressive features iOS 7 includes is an enhanced AirDrop app. Not only does this application allow users to easily exchange files with other iphone users, it enables them to send files to other Apple devices in the same Wi-Fi location. Users will be able to meet at a coffee shop and send files, music and videos back and forth without having to use intermediaries such as Dropbox or email. Ultimately, the goal of this function is to make connecting with Apple users much easier, smoother and more efficient. From the looks of the beta, the new iOS 7 intends to do just that.

A Better Control Center
In a departure from its predecessors, the new iOS 7 will include a Control Center. With a single swipe, users can access a hub that allows them to adjust screen brightness, music volume and even turn on the flashlight function or the radio. The days of having to individually change your iphone’s features or leave an app in order to turn on other functions are gone. Users now get the flexibility to address these needs at any time. It's a small but significant step forward for the Apple user experience.

Translucent Graphics and Multitasking
The most striking improvement that Apple has made to the new platform is the design and user interface. New Apple devices will pull from an improved color palette that adds an unprecedented richness to each of the apps, which have taken on a translucent design that makes them look lighter, brighter and more modern.

Apple has also taken steps to improve its multitasking features. Using a layers minimization structure, iOS 7 users will now be able to weave in and out of apps smoothly. From a developer’s standpoint, apps will be able to carry out operations in the background while other programs are at the forefront. In short, new Apple devices will be as cohesive and encompassing as ever.

More Modern Design
Apple has brought iOS 7's design up to date by focusing more on functionality and ease of use. First off, new devices will have a flat design with more feature-rich icons. As far as text, the new design will feature a slimmed down version that blends perfectly with the bright colors and smoother design. The app icons have renewed and improved artwork and are borderless. Apple manages to take on a sleeker more current look that gives users more freedom and fluidity when navigating through and between apps. (Read about Apple's history in Creating the iWorld: A History of Apple.)

A Savvier Siri
It is only fitting that the most ambitious platform change in Apple’s history included some major upgrades for Siri. The new Siri has better speech recognition technology that is much more humanized; it's also able to understand human speech better. Part of this advancement includes adding a larger conversation word bank to pull from. The app also loads decidedly faster than its predecessors and allows users to choose from both a male and female voice, which provides some options and convenience.

iOS 7: The Bad

Of course, progress has its drawbacks. Because of the massive overhaul being done and the significantly improved capabilities, many developers will be forced to build newer apps to fit these improved standards, effectively leaving iOS 6 users playing catch-up. While many of the apps tailored for iOS 7 will come with free updates, a good portion of them will have upgrade fees. Yes, that’s right - Apple users who don’t buy new devices will likely have to shell out to get the latest versions of their favorite apps. On the development side, firms may also be on the hook for the cost of redesigning current apps to fit into the iOS 7 platform.

There have also been rumblings about Apple’s decision to exclude Google data from its Maps offerings. The new iOS 7 will go it alone and rely solely on its mapping application for driving directions. Unfortunately, this ambitious choice draws attention to the perceived shortcomings of the Apple Maps app compared to its key competitor, Google Maps. Many have predicted that this represents an advantage that Google will capitalize on in coming years.

The iOS 7 platform is an ambitious, radical, yet welcome new chapter for Apple devices. It improves upon some of the missteps of its predecessors and while it has its share of flaws and shortcomings, it's sure to excite many Apple users. What remains to be seen is how the transition to this new OS will affect iOS 6 users.