Want an early peek at iOS 7? Here's how.

The launch of Apple's iOS 7 will likely coincide with the launch of the next iPhone. But why not take the operating system for a test-spin today? 

Earlier this month, at the WWDC event in San Francisco, Apple took the wraps off iOS 7, the latest iteration of its mobile operating system. iOS 7 looks pretty different from iOS 6: The font is slimmer, the icons are flatter, the colors are different, and the 3-D shading is drastically pared down. There's also a centralized control panel, which slides up from the bottom of the lock screen, and lets you toggle Airplane Mode, iTunes tracks, and so on. 

The Jony Ive-designed operating system is expected to launch this fall, probably in conjunction with the release of the new iPhone. (TechCrunch has assembled a useful guide of which devices will be compatible with iOS 7.) Want to take iOS7 for an early test-drive? Well, you've got a couple of options. One is to download the beta developers' version of the OS, although the beta is reported to be pretty buggy and unstable, as betas usually are. 

The other way is to navigate over to this iOS 7 simulator, which was put together by the folks at the tech site Recombu. (Hat tip to 9 to 5 Mac for the discovery.) You don't actually get to hold an iOS 7-equipped iPhone in your hand, but you do get to use your finger (or mouse) to click through a reasonably good facsimile of the forthcoming OS, from the aforementioned control panel to the revised camera controls. Just to warn you: The demo works much better on a computer than on a phone.

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Of course, as Recombu makes sure to note, the demo is based on the beta edition of iOS 7, and "there will potentially be a few more changes and tweaks before the final revision of iOS 7 hits consumer’s devices." 

Generally speaking, the new OS design has been received warmly by tech critics. Not that there aren't dissenters – PC Mag staff curmudgeon John C. Dvorak among them. "I personally find the new icons to be less compelling and almost vapid in their emotional impact," Dvorak writes. "A lot of Apple fanboys are raving about how much better and less pretentious they are. When you look at them side-by-side, some are superior to the old designs but most are not." 

Take that, Ives. 

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