Big changes coming to the iPhone
APPLE has previewed a dramatic new look for its bedrock product, the iPhone, and previewed upcoming changes to the company's computer software, including iTunes.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook kicked off a keynote address at the tech giant's annual Worldwide Developer Conference in California on Monday.
He said the new iOS 13 software will feature a Dark Mode, with new ways to browse and edit photos, sign in to apps and websites, and navigate the world with an all-new map.
As part of the new operating system, the company is introducing "Sign in with Apple" to let users sign into apps without using similar sign-in services from Facebook and Google. The sign in will let you hide your actual email address if you choose. It's also making it easier to only show your location to apps once and not continually.
The biggest remake of a single app is a makeover of Apple Maps, which will debut later this year. It includes more granular street and place data that Apple says it collected with street and aerial footage - tactics its largest mobile app rival Google has been using for years.
New features include messages that can automatically share a user's name and photo, or customised Memoji or Animoji, to easily identify who is in the Messages thread. And Siri will have a "more natural voice".
Many of the software updates are expected to be tailored for digital services such as video streaming that Apple is rolling out to offset eroding sales of the iPhone.
Mr Cook began his keynote by recapping services Apple announced earlier this spring, including a news reading service and an arcade service for mobile games. He also previewed one of the original shows Apple is producing for its new videostreaming service, "For All Mankind," set in an alternate history where the Soviets were first to land a man on the moon.
The software showcase is an annual rite. This year, however, Apple is grappling with its biggest challenge since its visionary co-founder, Steve Jobs, died nearly eight years ago.
Although still popular, the iPhone is no longer reliably driving Apple's profits the way it has for the past decade. Sales have fallen sharply for the past two quarters, and could suffer another blow if China's government targets the iPhone in retaliation for the trade war being waged by President Donald Trump. Apple emphasised its privacy protections during the keynote - following along with Facebook, Google and other major tech companies' scripts this year.
Another potential problem looms for Apple. Regulatory complaints and a consumer lawsuit both question whether Apple has been abusing the power of its iPhone app store to thwart competition and gouge smaller technology companies that rely on it to attract users and sell their services.
Apple is trying to adapt by squeezing money from digital services tailored for the more than 900 million iPhones currently in use.
Apple confirmed it will replace the iTunes service in its current form, as it splits the software across three apps.
The technology giant said the next versions of its macOS operating system which powers the firm's computers will replace the iTunes app with Music, TV and Podcasts.
The three dedicated apps will each handle their own media, from finding and playing content to purchasing it and saving it to a library where applicable. iTunes was introduced as a media player in 2001, before a built-in music store was added, and it was used as part of the set-up of early generation iPods and iPhones.
Speaking on stage at the conference, senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi said: "The future of iTunes is not one app, but three." The restructuring of apps will launch as part of the next version of macOS, to be called Catalina, which will be released later this year.
Apple rolled out the service 16 years ago to sell and manage digital music for the iPod, which paved the way for the iPhone.
Apple has already phased out iTunes from the iPhone and iPad, but will now do the same on the Mac and other personal computers, mirroring how the company already handles those services on mobile devices.
Apple also unveiled several new apps for its smart watch, including independent apps that don't rely on the iPhone. The App Store will be available on the watch, making it possible for people to find and download apps right on their watch - expanding the availability of purchases that generate commissions for Apple.