Look for that iPhone and iPad of yours to become even more stylish later this year.
On Monday at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Apple will preview a new version of the iOS software used in the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. It will also likely show off upgrades to the OS X software that runs its Mac computers.
The iOS overhaul has come under Apple designer Jony Ive. Analysts expect the software to launch in the fall. Last year, Apple shook up management to give Ive more responsibility for software. Scott Forstall, who'd been in charge of mobile software development, stepped down.
"This is now Jon Ive's show," says Gartner analyst Van Baker. "For the first time, we'll get to see what kind of impact he'll have on software."
Apple's status as tech's coolest company has come under pressure from hot new products from Samsung and Google. Its stock has tumbled this year from a September peak of $705.07 a share. It closed at $438.46 on Thursday, down $6.65.
The rap on iOS is that it's gotten "old and stale," says Baker. "That's what the industry thinks. So look for a much sleeker, more refined look."
How big a deal is a phone interface? Huge, says Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.
"Most people check their phone at least once every 10 minutes," he says. "When you spend so much time with something like that, how the interface looks and acts is major."
Also at WWDC, Apple could preview a music service that would offer streaming music within iTunes and take on Pandora, Spotify and the new Google Music. Apple is several years late to that party -- it's been offering music downloads since 2001.
What's been dubbed "iRadio" is "a big deal." says Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin. "Many consumers have already shifted away from downloads to streaming, and Apple risks losing more ground." But Apple's huge customer base for iTunes (500 million) means many consumers could give it a chance.
Apple has been hammered by investors this year for seemingly failing to innovate -- it's been three years since the last groundbreaking product innovation, the iPad.
Munster says WWDC 2013 won't change that: Investors need physical products to be wowed, not software.
He expects to see introduction of a new iPhone this fall, and he believes a TV and wearable watch will come in early 2014. "The real innovation is in fall and January, when the real fireworks begin," he says.
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