The software running Apple's iPhones and iPads is getting a new look and several new features. The Mac is borrowing more functionality from mobile devices. New MacBook Airs are out, and a new Internet radio service will be coming this fall.
Apple announced these offerings and more during a keynote address Monday to open its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. Here are the highlights.
NEW MOBILE SOFTWARE
Apple announced iOS 7, the next version of its operating system for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches.
The biggest change comes in the new system's design: Instead of app icons that try to mimic real-world counterparts, Apple is favoring simplicity and consistency from app to app. The company's design chief, Jony Ive, said the new structure is meant to bring order to complexity. The redesign includes subtle motion. It shows thunder on a weather app when a thunderstorm is forecast, for instance.
The new software will expand a device's ability to run multiple apps at once. It'll be easier for users to switch from app to app by swiping across the display screen. Apple's software will figure out which apps you tend to use and make sure content for those apps is updated regularly.
With iOS 7, you'll be able to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access a control center, for such functions as turning on airplane mode and adjusting brightness. It's similar to a feature available on rival devices running Android.
The calendar has been cleaned up and looks more streamlined. You can also get to your contacts list quickly while reading messages by swiping from the left of the screen. A featured called AirDrop will let people share content with other Apple devices.
There's also better organization of photos you take on iPhones. Instead of the endless streams of the past, pictures will be organized into moments _ such as "home" or "trip to San Francisco."
The Siri virtual assistant is getting refreshed, too. Siri's voice will sound less robotic than before, and you'll be able to choose a male voice, not just a female one as is currently the case. You can ask Siri what people are saying on Twitter, or ask for information from Microsoft's Bing search engine. You can also command Siri to adjust the phone's brightness or play the last voice mail. Siri will be available in French and German, too, with more languages to come.
Apple said iOS 7 will be available on the iPhone 4 and later, the iPad 2 and later and the iPad Mini. A test version was made available to developers starting Monday. It will be available for everyone else this fall. That's also when Apple is likely to introduce a new iPhone. A version of the new iOS will also be built into cars.
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