Technology

Apple unveils music streaming service, revamps iOS

June 11, 2013

Eddy Cue, Apple senior vice-president of Internet software and services, displays the new iTunes interface during Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2013 in San Francisco on June 10, 2013. — Reuters picEddy Cue, Apple senior vice-president of Internet software and services, displays the new iTunes interface during Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2013 in San Francisco on June 10, 2013. — Reuters picSAN FRANCISCO, June 11 — Apple Inc yesterday unveiled a music streaming service that is a key part of overhauled mobile software that the company called the most revolutionary re-design of its operating system since the iPhone was introduced in 2007.

iTunes Radio, one of the more highly anticipated new features in the revamped iOS mobile platform, is free with ads across many Apple devices including iPhones, iPads and even Apple TV.

Much like rival Pandora Media Inc, the service — which will launch in the fall, months after Google Inc’s “All Access” on-demand competitor debuted — allows listeners to customise their own radio stations by genre, skip songs multiple times, or just tune in to some 200 featured stations.

As Apple kicked off its annual conference in San Francisco for its developers, executives also showed off a new line of Mac computers and said that updated Siri voice software used on the iPhone now incorporates Microsoft Corp’s Bing search engine.

Called iOS 7, the smartphone and tablet platform redesigned by resident creative honcho Jony Ive comes with a new edge-to-edge look that uses translucency to highlight underlying content, new typefaces, and new icons. Apple plans to make iOS 7 available in the fall.

Kleiner Perkins venture capitalist Matt Murphy, who runs the firm’s iFund, tweeted that the new iOS platform “looks livelier, happier, approachable.”

It will also support multitasking for all apps, executives said. “It’s the biggest change to iOS since the iPhone,” said CEO Tim Cook.

Apple also said that Siri, the voice-activated personal digital assistant, comes with all new male and female voices, a new look, and is now directly integrated with Bing.

Some industry experts have criticised Apple’s mobile operating software, which has retained its general look and feel since its inception, for looking somewhat dated.

“The iPhone was the first real smartphone for a lot of people so it had to be really basic. I think now the training-wheels are starting to come off a little bit,” said Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, which makes note-taking software for smartphones.

Marketing chief Phil Schiller offered the audience a sneak peek at Apple’s upcoming new Mac Pro — its top-of-the-line computer with a sleek cylindrical chassis that he said will feature several times the processing and memory speed and power of the previous generation.

It will be released later this year and be assembled in the United States, Schiller said.

Some investors believe the company that invented the iPhone is struggling to come up with original new products after co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs died in 2011.

“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.”

Apple also announced a new operating system for the Mac PC called “Mavericks,” moving away from its penchant for naming its computer software after big cats. The new OS can handle multiple display and “tagging” of documents, among other new features.

In an unusual move, Apple also shared the stage with little-known startup Anki, which was given the opportunity to show off a game.

The conference, whose tickets sold out in just over a minute when it opened up in April, comes as South Korean rival Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has solidified its lead in the smartphone market with a 33 per cent share followed by Apple with 18 per cent during the first quarter, according to market research firm IDC.

Cook is under pressure to show that the company that created the smartphone and tablet markets is not slowing down as deep-pocketed competitors such as Samsung and Google Inc encroach on its share.

Investor concerns centre around whether Apple will be able to come up with more groundbreaking products as smartphone and tablet market gets more crowded.

Cook told the audience of developers at the Moscone Center in San Francisco that Apple’s App Store now has 900,000 apps, which have been downloaded a total of 50 billion times. — Reuters