Apple Inc. on Monday introduced a new music-streaming service along with sweeping changes to the software powering iPhones and iPads, seeking to blunt the advance of Google Inc.’s Android mobile operating system.
ITunes Radio features more than 200 free stations, supported by advertising for some users, Apple said. The Web music service is part of iOS 7, an overhaul of the mobile operating system with a simpler user interface with more translucent design elements.
With smartphones sharing many physical traits and technological features, device makers are relying more on software design and services to gain an edge and lure consumers. While iTunes Radio is aimed at boosting the appeal of iOS 7, it may not be enough to draw users away from established offerings by Pandora Media Inc. and Spotify Ltd.
“ITunes Radio as a Pandora clone is a lot less disruptive than a Spotify clone would have been,” Jan Dawson, an analyst at Ovum in London, wrote in a research note. “This is a nice free feature that lots of people will probably try out, but existing Pandora users won’t have much reason to switch.”
Shares of Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., fell less than 1 percent to $438.89 at the close in New York. Pandora, based in Oakland, Calif., rose 2.5 percent to $15.49.
Apple shares had declined 37 percent before Monday from a record last September, a month before Apple’s last major product announcement. The period since the debut of the iPad mini is the longest product drought for Apple in at least a decade.
IOS accounted for 18 percent of global smartphone shipments in the first quarter, while those running Android made up 74 percent, according to Gartner Inc. IPhone sales climbed about 16 percent in the first quarter, lagging the smartphone market, which grew 43 percent.
“Apple has been in a funk, and this is an important event to highlight how they are innovating,” said Ben Reitzes, an analyst at Barclays Plc in New York.
Changes to the software behind the devices that generate more than 70 percent of Apple’s sales has been in the works since Cook shuffled his management team, 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. The new version also redesigns often-used applications such as email, calendar and text messaging.
“IOS 7 is the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of iPhone,” Cook said at Apple’s 24th developers conference in San Francisco.
Apple also introduced a new version of its Mac operating system called Mavericks, aimed at delivering tighter integration with iPhones and iPads.
The software lets users’ appointments, password, map directions and other information follow them between devices, Craig Federighi, Apple’s software chief, said at the conference.
Mavericks is designed to run on less energy that prior versions, conserving battery life, and also includes features for using multiple screens, Federighi said.
MacBook Air, Apple’s lightweight laptop, was updated, enabling faster operation and longer battery life. Apple also unveiled a new Mac Pro desktop computer, with advanced power and memory features. The high-end computer will be assembled in the U.S., Cook said.