Apple unveiled new software for its computers, smartphones and tablets on Monday as it sought to halt the encroachment of rivals like Google and Samsung on its premium products.
Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the new operating systems in the opening address of Apple’s annual WorldWide Developer Conference in San Francisco.
The company has seen its stock fall from a high of more than 700 dollars last September to under 450 dollars currently.
But with any major new hardware release of new iPhones and iPads still months away, the focus was on new Macbook Air laptops and new operating systems for both personal computers and mobile devices.
Cook insisted that despite the advances of rivals, Apple’s mobile operating system iOS remained the number one in the market, boasting of 97 per cent satisfaction and more than twice as many web use as Android.
The gap would grow with the introduction of iOS 7, said Cook, who called it “the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the iPhone.” As expected, the new software features strikingly different visual cues with a flat, translucent and colourful design replacing a 3D opaque pallet that featured lots of greys and blues.
Like Samsung’s new Galaxy S4, which is widely regarded as the iPhone’s top competitor, the new software responds to hand motions.
Notifications are available on the lock screen and a finger swipe from the bottom edge accesses the device settings. Multitasking and battery life are both improved, said Apple software chief Craig Federighi.
“We see iOS 7 as defining an important new direction, and in many ways a new beginning,” said Apple design chief Jony Ive, who was recently placed in charge of the software’s look and feel.
The new laptops, featuring Intel’s new Haswell chips, are able work an entire day on a single battery. Apple also gave attendees a peak at its new top of the lines Mac Pro computers, which it said were more than 2.5 times faster that current models The latest version of OS X, Mavericks — as the new software is called after a famous California surfing spot — boasts improved notifications and integration with other Apple devices, so that for instance a map search on a Macbook will also show up on the owner’s smartphone, a feature which has long been available for users of Google’s Chrome browser and Android operating system.
Apple also announced new features for iCloud, the company’s remote backup service, which will now feature a new version of iWork to better compete with Google’s online productivity suite Google Docs.
Users will even be able to access iCloud from Windows PCs and using Internet Explorer and Chrome browsers.