Apple Inc on Monday unveiled a music streaming service called iTunes Radio and new mobile software in the biggest redesign of its operating system since the original iPhone was introduced in 2007.
The new software, designated iOS 7 and announced at Apple’s annual developers’ conference in San Francisco, sports a streamlined design, employs translucency and a fresh palette of colors, and features animation in apps.
Apple’s iTunes Radio, one of the more highly anticipated features of the new iOS 7, comes free, supported by ads across many devices, including iPhones, iPads and the Apple TV.
Much like rival Pandora Media Inc’s Internet radio, the service — which launches in the fall, months after Google Inc’s “All Access” on-demand competitor debuted — allows listeners to customize their own radio stations by genre, skip songs multiple times, or just tune in to about 200 featured stations.
Apple has been talking to record companies for the past year in hopes of getting the service off the ground, seen as crucial to retaining users as music consumption grows alongside smartphone use. It will also come free of ads for customers who subscribe to Match, another Apple music service.
Executives also showed off a new line of Macbook Air computers. They gave a sneak peek at a cylindrical Mac Pro desktop, in a rare preview of upcoming hardware.
The latest Macs will run a new computer operating system christened OSX Mavericks. It will be released later this year and be assembled in the US, marketing chief Phil Schiller said.
“Can’t innovate any more, my ass,” Schiller said as he showed off the new Mac Pro. “This is a machine unlike anything we’ve ever made.”
Among some of the other features introduced was “activation lock,” an anti-theft security enhancement that prevents unauthorized resetting of the device.
Smartphone thieves are set to have a harder time after Apple introduces an “activation lock” feature in its new mobile software, a move that comes amid pressure from authorities and consumers for companies to do more to stem a tide of smartphone theft.
The new feature will require a legitimate owner’s ID and password before an iPhone can be wiped clean or reactivated after being remotely erased, Apple said.
The company plans to release iOS 7 in the fall. It will support multitasking for all apps.
“It’s the biggest change to iOS since the iPhone,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said.
Cook is under pressure to show that the company that created the smartphone and tablet markets is not slowing as deep-pocketed competitors like Samsung Electronics Co and Google encroach on its market. In April, Apple reported its first quarterly profit decline in more than a decade.
Cook told the audience of developers that Apple’s App Store now has 900,000 apps that have been downloaded a total of 50 billion times.