IOS 7 also lets users switch between programs more easily and gives quicker access to frequently used features, such as Wi-Fi settings. A new security tool lets owners disable a stolen iPhone so it can’t be reused. The Siri voice application was also updated and will rely on Microsoft’s Bing search engine, rather than Google’s, for some tasks.
“When an individual puts iOS 7 on their iPhone or iPad, it will look like a brand new device,” said Tim Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies Inc. in Campbell, California.
Apple also showed an upgrade to the Mac operating system, called OS X Mavericks, and enhancements to its iCloud web- storage system.
Upgrades to software and services are part of ongoing efforts by Apple, Google and other companies such as Microsoft Corp. to enable customers to manage their digital lives across different devices, be it a laptop, smartphone or tablet. The iOS 7 software lets users’ appointments, passwords, map directions and other information follow them between devices, Craig Federighi, Apple’s software chief, said at the conference.
Automotive companies including Ford Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. also will begin introducing cars that will link to iOS starting in 2014, Apple said.
The announcements set the stage for more product introductions later in the year, when analysts predict that Apple will unveil a new iPhone and iPad.
“There is no way Apple will exit the year without new iPhones and new iPads,” said Bajarin. He also expects the company to introduce a new MacBook Pro laptop.
Changes to the software behind the devices that generate more than 70% of Apple’s revenue have been in the works since Cook shuffled his lieutenants, putting head industrial designer Jonathan Ive in charge of the look and feel of Apple’s software. A longtime confidant of co-founder Steve Jobs and the draftsman behind the iPhone and Mac, Ive has been leading the revamp of iOS.
“IOS 7 is the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of iPhone,” Cook said at yesterday’s conference.