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Gadgets & Home Improvement

Apple overhauls iOS with a cleaner look, launches new music streaming service

Apple on Monday unveiled a fresh new version of its mobile operating system for iPhones and iPads that will sport a cleaner design and bring a host of new features, including a new music streaming service called iTunes Radio.
The Straits Times - June 11, 2013
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Apple overhauls iOS with a cleaner look, launches new music streaming service

Apple on Monday unveiled a fresh new version of its mobile operating system for iPhones and iPads that will sport a cleaner design and bring a host of new features, including a new music streaming service called iTunes Radio.

Ditching its signature glossy and heavily textured interface found on the previous version of the operating system, iOS 7 - the latest version - has a much "flatter" design. The interface now features more solid colours and cleaner lines - similar to what is seen on the latest Android and Windows devices. The iBooks store for example, will loose its wooden bookshelf for a cleaner translucent grid.

The company also launched its free new music streaming service. Built into its music software, iTunes Radio allows users to create "stations" based on artistes or genres. Similar to Pandora, it takes one's music tastes into account in order to play tracks. It will only initially be available in the US later this year and will use both text and audio ads to support the free streaming.

The company said it will bring the service to other countries subsequently. Google recently also launched its version of music streaming called All Access, but is also not available in Singapore. Swedish company Spotify is though.

The radical design refresh is Apple's "biggest" change to iOS since it was launched in 2007 for the iPhone, said Apple's chief executive Tim Cook to the roaring cheers of the audience at the opening day of the company's developer conference here - an annual event where Apple shows off its work-in-progress to entice software developers to continue creating apps for its devices.

Also new to iOS 7 is a new feature called Control Centre - a dashboard that appears when users swipe up. From there, users can change screen brightness or play a song.

The camera app got a boost and now also has photo filters built into it - similar to those available on Instagram and Facebook. Photos can also be organised into "Moments" in the enhanced photos app, where photos can be sorted based on location and when they were shot. Users can also now share photos wirelessly and directly between mobile devices.

The new version of iOS will likely be available for consumers this August.

Helming the latest visual update is Jonathan Ive - the driving force behind the sleek and clean curves of Apple's iconic hardware. Mr Ive had been handed the additional role of overseeing the company's software design, following the dismissal of the company's senior vice president and mobile software head, Scott Forstall, late last year.

As anticipated, the company also showcased its upcoming desktop operating system which it now calls OS X Mavericks - a departure from its cat-themed names from its previous versions. The new operating system will bring apps like Maps and iBooks, which were previously only available on its mobile devices to the desktop. The Calendar software was also given a cosmetic lift, now spotting cleaner lines.

On the hardware front, the tech giant gave a sneak peek of its top-of-the desktop machine, Mac Pro. The machine is one-eighth the size of its current model and will be available at the end of this year. It also updates its line of ultralight MacBook Air laptops, which now has longer battery lives.

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