It wasn't unexpected the direction they'd be going. They'd really backed themselves into a corner, and WP8/Android were showing that functionality beats pretty UI's that need extra clicks.
The Notification bar, the quick settings, it's obvious that Apple have sat down with everything out there and /really/ looked carefully at it, probably had meetings on what to take it, improve it, and make it look 'appley' but it's incredibly obvious to anyone who looks at them where the ideas are coming from.
And that's ok! It really is! Palm had some great ideas too, as can be seen by the switcher.
You know deep down every iPhone user is going to look at this and think "well, they kept telling me this was better than the competition for all those years, and that they were copying MY phone, but now they're copying them and... I just feel uncomfortable. What else do other phones do better?"
Then again, maybe it'll get a few others to re-look at iPhones and say 'oo, nice hardware and now a nice OS that works like i'm used to'.
Shame they're going to Bing though, to get away from Google, they're once again willing to break their functionality. Unless they think Bing's good enough now. But as bad as Google may be perceived to Apple, have they REALLY forgotten how Microsoft works?
Shows an Apple that's following, following, racing around, sniffing for clues. And at last, the general press seems to be aware that the smoke and mirrors are just that.