Apple unveils new OS X Mavericks, radio streaming service

Apple unveils a new operating system as the company opened its annual conference for software developers today in California.

Worldwide Developer's Conference starts in San Francisco today

Phil Schiller, the senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple, introduces the new MacBook Air laptops during the keynote address of the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday in San Francisco. (Eric Risberg/Associated Press)

Apple unveiled a new operating system as the company opened its annual Worldwide Developer's Conference for software developers today in California.

After years of chosing feline names, the company made a move to California-themed names.

As was rumoured, the new OS X 10.9 Mavericks, named after a popular surfing location near Half Moon Bay, Calif., will include a tabbed finder window and tag support. Tabbed finder windows is a browser-like system based in Windows where users can add tabs by clicking plus in a window. Users will also be able to tag files based on details such as location, making them more searchable.

As with most previous operation systems, it will be available as a digital download at the Mac App Store.

Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering at Apple, introduces the new OS X Mavericks operating system on Monday. (Eric Risberg/Associated Press)

Apple also promised improved support for multiple displays, which garnered huge cheers from the crowd of developers in the audience. Users will be able to view menus across screens and view different apps in full screen mode on each display.

Owners of recent models such as last fall's iPhone 5 will be eligible for free upgrades.

The next product unveiled was an update to Apple's browser, Safari. New features will include a new home screen that includes a sidebar with bookmarks featuring a reading list that lets you scroll through articles. The updated browser will also feature links shared by friends on Twitter and LinkedIn.

"Safari is also awesome now when it comes to memory usage, using way less memory than other browsers," said Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering.

Apple riled users of its gadgets last fall when it kicked out a beloved app using Google's mapping service and replaced it with its own maps app. Travellers complained of misplaced landmarks, overlooked towns and other problems. What was supposed to be a triumph for Apple served to underscore Google's strength in maps. Apple CEO Tim Cook issued a rare public apology and promised improvements.

The company announced a revamp of the map tool which features 3-D maps and the ability to get an instant estimated travel time for any address entered in a calendar event. The map tool will be part and parcel of Mavericks.

New services announced

It also revealed a digital radio service. Apple says its long-expected music streaming service will be called iTunes Radio and comes free with advertisements included. Apple says iTunes Radio will personalize users' music based on what they've listened to and what they've purchased on iTunes.

The service integrates Apple's Siri virtual assistant so that users can get information by speaking questions such as "Who plays that song?"

Subscribers to iTunes Match, which costs $25 a year, will get a commercial-free version of iTunes Radio.

Apple says iTunes Radio will be available in the fall in the U.S. The service enters a competitive field.  Google started an on-demand subscription music service called All Access last month. The service joins Spotify, Rhapsody and others.

Updated mobile operating system

Apple showed off the new operating system for mobile devices, iOS 7. The company demonstrated a new weather app with animation. The calendar was cleaned up to look more streamlined. Users can also get to the contacts list quickly while reading messages by swiping from the left of the screen.

Users will also have the ability to swipe up from the bottom to access a control centre, for such functions as turning on the airplane mode and adjusting brightness. This is similar to features available on rival devices running Android.

Apple’s software will also figure out which apps users frequently open and will make sure content is regularly updated for those.  

Image overhaul

Icons in iOS will have a three-dimensional look that tries to mimic the real-world counterparts of certain apps. For instance, the icon for the Notes app looks like a yellow notepad and the Contacts app is represented by a leather-bound address book.

With iOS 7, Apple is favouring simplicity and consistency. Ive says Apple is introducing a new structure to bring order to complexity.

While design modifications could help Apple distinguish its devices from rival phones and tablets, they risk alienating longtime users. But the audience of developers cheered after seeing a video on the changes.

Apple also unveiled a long-overdue upgrade to its iWork suite of productivity software. The new version will tap Apple’s iCloud online syncing service and will let users run programs from a Web browser.

This week's event comes at an important time for Apple. The company's stock price has fallen amid concerns that another breakthrough product isn't imminent. Although CEO Tim Cook has said people shouldn't expect new products until the fall, Apple is likely to preview how future products will function in its unveiling of new services and features.

But Apple faces a new type of competition that it didn't have when it debuted iTunes. Rival Google Inc. started an on-demand subscription music service called All Access last month.

The service joins Spotify, Rhapsody and others that give subscribers the ability to pick and choose specific songs and albums from a catalogue of millions for playback on computers, tablets and smartphones. Such services allow songs to be saved on mobile devices for playback outside of internet connectivity as long as the user keeps paying a monthly fee — usually $10 a month in the U.S.

Apple Inc. faces more competition on phones, too. Phones running Google Inc.'s Android system have surpassed iPhones in sales. In addition, new phones running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Phone 8 system and Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry 10 have started going on sale in recent months.

With files from The Associated Press