Apple has launched its much-anticipated iTunes Radio music streaming service, as the firm looks to rival the likes of Spotify, Pandora and Google Music.
Watch this video from Bloomberg with highlights from the launch event here:
The move was announced as part of Apple’s annual WWDC conference, where it also revealed a revamped operating system iOS 7 and Bing integration for Siri.
The move into music streaming opens a new channel for marketers looking to reach the Apple audience, as the firm is making iTunes Radio accessible without charge if users are willing to listen to adverts.
It will also offer an ad-free option to consumers who buy an iTunes Match subscription.
iTunes Radio will offer stations tailored to a person’s listening history on iTunes, as well as tracks from specific bands – including unreleased exclusives – which they do not own.
Apple suggested it was a way for users to “discover new music”, and the firm will promote the ability to buy songs that a user likes via its store.
The service also taps Apple’s Siri virtual assistant to answer users’ spoken questions, such as: “Who plays that song?”
The feature is accessible through iOS 7’s music app as well as iTunes software for Macs, PCs and Apple TVs.
The launch comes a month after Google unveiled Play Music All Access, a similar facility for Android devices.
‘Flatter operating system’
Apple has unveiled a flatter look for the user interface of its smart device iOS operating system.
The platform design was led by its design chief Jony Ive, who replaced Scott Forstall earlier this year.
Ive said the aim was to make the system look “cleaner” to help “elevate” users’ content.
It involves a shift away from skeuomorphism – the use of leather, wood and other real-world inspired textures and artifacts in apps.
A similar change has also been made to the OS X system for Mac computers.
Other new features in iOS 7 include:
• Automatic app updates
• A swipe-up Control Center feature which brings together frequently used functions such as turning on wi-fi or bluetooth, adjusting the volume, and using the iPhone as a torch
• The ability to carry out searches via Microsoft’s Bing service within the voice-controlled Siri app, which also features new voices
• An anti-theft measure which requires a user to enter an associated ID and password before being able to deactivate a device’s Find My iPhone feature
• Redesigned fonts to create the appearance of sharper text
Rising competition from Android
Google’s Android now has some 75% of the global smartphone market, far ahead of Apple’s 17.3%, according to the latest figures from IDC. However, Apple still leads the way in terms of profitability and engagement from users.
Apple’s stock has fallen from a peak in September and is keen to prove it is still capable of innovation after the death of its leader Steve Jobs.
Some industry experts have criticised the company’s mobile operating software as dated, as it has been largely unchanged since the iPhone’s inception.
The new operating system for its smartphones and tablets includes a streamlined design, new icons, typefaces and a transparent look to highlight underlying content.
CEO Tim Cook said: “It’s the biggest change to iOS since the iPhone.”
Apple said iOS 7 would be released to the public in the autumn.
Watch this BBC video showing Apple’s new look OS here: