Apple today shipped iOS 7, a free upgrade that dramatically alters the look and feel of its mobile operating system.
The Cupertino, Calif. company released iOS 7 around 1 p.m. ET in a repeat of its traditional timing.
Computerworld immediately began retrieving iOS 7 and in the initial stages at least -- and after one temporary glitch -- the download proceeded.
On Apple's iPhone support forum, however, there were numerous messages from customers who said that their attempts to download iOS 7 failed.
"I got an initial estimate of 1 hour, then 2 hours, then 33 minutes, then download failure error," reported "Ralph Landry 1" 20 minutes after Apple opened the download gate.
Most assumed that Apple's servers were simply swamped. "Be patient, wait for the server traffic to die down," advised "Brandon2184" on another message thread. "Only a few million people are trying to do the update at once."
But some weren't about to be patient. "You'd think the geniuses at apple would innovate mass software distribution since this happens EVERY YEAR and makes people super frustrated," said "bradwest414."
iOS 7, which also powers the new iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C that Apple introduced last week, is a free upgrade for owners of the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5; iPad 2, the third- and fourth-generation iPads with Retina screens, and the iPad Mini; and the fifth-generation iPod Touch that debuted in October 2012 and May 2013.
Apple introduced iOS 7 in June at its annual developers conference, where CEO Tim Cook and other executives highlighted the visual overhaul and a handful of new features, including iTunes Radio, a free streaming music service; an enhanced Siri, the voice-activated digital assistant; and automatic updating of apps.
The redesign, however, was center stage in June and since then. Apple dispensed with the original user interface elements -- which had heavily relied on shading and "skeuomorphic" embellishments, like the wooden bookshelves in iBooks and the lined paper in Notes -- for thinner fonts, more white space and more pastel-like colors.
Additionally, iOS 7 debuted what Apple called "parallax," which subtly changes the appearance of the screen depending on how the device is held.
Today, Computerworld reviewer Michael deAgonia concluded that iOS 7's "UI changes are initially dramatic, but they don't really force you to change existing workflows too much."
He also portrayed the new design as less stuffy, more casual. "If color and design can convey a feeling, then iOS 6 was grown-up, solid, staid. In contrast, iOS 7 feels more cheerful, optimistic and fun," said deAgonia.
Apple also rolled out iTunes 11.1 today, an update that adds iTunes Radio, the free advertising-support music streaming service. Users who have paid the $25 annual fee for iTunes Match do not see or hear ads on iTunes Radio.
iTunes 11.1 can be downloaded for OS X and Windows from Apple's website.
iOS 7 can be downloaded over the air from iPhones, iPads, iPad Minis and iPod Touches, or through iTunes. From an iPhone, for instance, users must tap the "Settings" icon, then the "General" button on the resulting screen. Tapping "Software Update" will kick off the update process.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.