When you think about your iPhone, it's probably the object that you use most in your life. It's the product that you have with you all the time. With this unique relationship people have with their iPhone, we take changing it really seriously.

That was Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) message nine months ago when it unveiled the iPhone 5, conveyed by design chief Jony Ive. The iPhone maker was pre-emptively defending its decision to be conservative with the device's redesign, which sported a similar look while "only" increasing the display to 4 inches.

That implied conservatism is partly why Apple has been criticized in recent months as having lost its innovative touch, particularly with software design. It was seen as a weakness for a company known for taking bold risks. That implied conservatism has just been tossed out the window.

Can you hear me now?
In completely overhauling the iOS 7 user interface, Apple is acknowledging that it can't play it safe any longer. The overall iOS look and feel has begun to feel dated in recent times. While rivals continue to refine their platforms, Apple has mostly sat idly by with the same aesthetic.

iOS 7. Source: Apple.

The company realizes how important it is to keep the same familiar usability, so as not to alienate existing users, but this is by far the biggest change that iOS has ever undergone. In a way, this is an inherent risk considering Apple's software update strategy, but exactly the type of bold risk that Apple needs to take.

iOS 7 looks very much like a modern mobile operating system now, whereas iOS 6 was starting to look long in the tooth next to the competition. The new version is very clearly the result of Apple's executive shakeup last year in the name of increased collaboration.

In just nine months, Apple has changed from playing it safe to accepting that competition has intensified and that it needs to think different again.

Fool contributor Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.