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Apple’s latest flagship smartphone, iPhone 5S, is due for release this Friday, along with the new version of the iOS operating system iOS7 which is due for release a couple of days earlier, on Wednesday. The big news this time around is the addition of the fingerprint reader to the iPhone 5S, and the total visual overhaul that iOS7 will bring.

One of the big criticisms of Apple’s iPhone designs has been that the user interface (UI) design hasn’t really have changed much over the years, and for a company known for its innovation, Apple has been conspicuously slow in responding to some strong competition – in particular, the Windows Phone UI looks stunning. Granted, iOS6 still looks fine, but the fact that the UI has remained the same since the launch of the original iPhone makes it look a bit dated in comparison to newer offerings from Windows Phone and Google Android. iOS is designed to answer this criticism, and completely overhauls the design with a new, flat UI which, with a few exceptions, looks fantastic. There are still a few questionable design choices, not least of which is the decision to make the ‘Settings’ icon resemble an extractor fan, but overall it’s a big step forward.

The other big change is the addition of a fingerprint reader to the iPhone 5S. This aside, the new model has also received a modest hardware upgrade and a few minor aesthetic changes. Will the fingerprint reader be enough to make iPhone 5S stand out from the crowd? Only time will tell – it’s certainly not the first time this has been tried, but Apple is banking on their fingerprint technology being robust enough to drive mass adoption. Apple’s innovation has never really been in being first for anything – instead, they seem to have the uncanny knack of knowing exactly when the market is ready for mass adoption, and launching their products at just the right time. Will the iPhone 5S’s addition of a fingerprint reader usher in a new wave of smartphones with their own fingerprint readers? Judging from early reports it seems likely, but whether they’ll stick around remains to be seen,

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