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Apple Unveils iOS 7 For Fall, New MacBook Air Models

San Francisco — Apple launched a major redesign and upgrade of its mobile OS for iPhones and iPads in the face of growing competition from competitors such as Samsung.

The new iOS will be available in the fall for the iPhone 4 and later for the iPad 2, iPad Mini and the fifth-generation iPod Touch.

In a presentation at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), executives demonstrated a cleaner user interface that CEO Tim Cook called “stunning.” The OS also adds multi-panel multitasking, which lets users view multiple active apps displayed as cards that can be swiped left and right. All apps can now use multitasking, the company added.

Ovum analyst Jan Dawson called iOS7 “a massive overhaul of the look and feel of the operating system, which has remained largely unchanged visually since the original version.”

With iOS 7, Apple’s mobile devices will access iRadio, the company’s first music-streaming service, also due in the fall. The free ad-supported service will be integrated into the devices’ music-player app and into computers’ iTunes programs to encourage use over competing streaming services. The iRadio service also comes in an ad-free version if the user subscribes to Apple’s iTunes Match service.

Core iOS functions such as messaging, calendar, phone and Game Center also get a cleaner look that uses a white background.

A Control Center UI appears on screen when the user swipes up from the bottom of the screen while in any app and from the lock screen to display such controls for media controls, volume, brightness, airplane mode, AirPlay, flashlight, camera, Apple’s AirDrop file sharing and more. AirDrop, comes to iOS for the first time, uses peer-to-peer Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to send files from one iPhone to another. The iOS Safari browser gets a full-screen look, a single bar on top for favorites, an iBook reading list and other enhancements.
Core iOS functions such as messaging, calendar, phone and Game Center also get a cleaner look that uses a white background.

The iOS Safari browser gets a full-screen look, a single bar on top for favorites, an iBook reading list and other enhancements.

The camera now comes with live filters and ability to view stored pictures by year taken, by geo-tagged location, and by “moments.”

 The OS also adds sharing of videos via Apple’s iCloud, an improved Siri voice-control interface with the choice of a male or female voice and voice search of Twitter, Wikipedia and Bing.

In 2014, the first automakers will launch vehicles that bring the iOS 7 screen to OEM infotainment systems, including maps, music and messages, the company said. Current OEM systems allow only for control of select features, Apple said.

The company also converged its Mac OS and iOS to a greater extent by, for example, letting consumers use their Macs to create a travel route and then send the route to their iPhone. iOS apps that have push notifications will also push the notifications to Macs. And Apple’s map application will come with the new Max OS X, called Mavericks, and offer the same features. In addition, a user’s iBook library on the iPhone will also appear on Macs.

In other announcements, Apple launched MacBook Air laptops with longer battery life. They are available today. The 11-inch model boost battery life to nine hours from five, and the 7-inch model boosts battery life to 12 hours from seven. The 128GB MacBook Air with 128GB flash storage is $1,099, with the 256GB version priced at $1,299. The 128GB 7-inch model is priced at $999, and the 256GB, 7-inch model is $1,199. Prices are down by $100 from their predecessors. They also offer 40 percent faster graphics processing.

Apple also leaked details of a planned new Mac Pro due sometime later this year. It will feature a new Thunderbolt 2 data port that will support three 4K displays simultaneously. It will also offer double the CPU performance of the current model. Pricing wasn’t disclosed.

The new iOS7 is an effort to counter the growing share of Android tablets and smartphone surging competition with the launch of new flagship smartphones from Samsung, BlackBerry and HTC.

Apple is competing with a growing selection of Android tablets in multiple screen sizes, including Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets, which are priced at about Amazon’s cost to promote sales of Amazon content such as music and video downloads and e-books.

Competing tablets are offering new features that Apple’s iPads have lacked and will continue to lack despite the iOS 7 upgrade. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, for example, offers multiscreen capability whose Cascade View lets users display multiple open apps on the screen instead of just one app at a time. An unlimited number of apps can be open at once and viewable through windows whose seizes can be changed by the user. About 20 apps have been designed to take advantage of the multiscreen capability.

Samsung’s recently announced Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet and the company’s Note and Note II phablet allow users to display two apps at once.

Samsung also raised the competitive bar with its Note smartphones and tablets that feature an S Pen, or stylus, that lets users annotate pictures and files with handwritten messages, draw pictures on screen, and preview a file or email message without opening it when the S Pen hovers over the file or message. Apps optimized for the S Pen are available.

For the three-month period ending April, research company Kantar Worldpanel ComTech found that Apple increased its share of U.S. smartphone sales to consumers at a faster pace than Android, but that was largely before the late-April launch of Samsung’s new Galaxy S4 flagship, the late-April launch of HTC’s One, and the mid-March launch of BlackBerry’s first BlackBerry 10 OS phone.