NEW YORK — Apple is expected to reveal a digital radio service and changes to the software behind iPhones and iPads on Monday as the company opens its annual conference for software developers.
Apple hasn't said what it will unveil at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. But the major announcements are expected during Monday's keynote presentation. Last year, Apple used the conference to announce its own mapping service, better integration with social networks and improvements to virtual assistant Siri. It also announced thinner MacBooks with high-resolution screens. The conference runs through Friday.
This year, Apple is expected to show off a simplified look on iPhones and iPads. If the speculation is correct, it would be the most radical design change since the iPhone made its debut in 2007, showing consumers that phones could do much more than make calls and exchange messages.
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.
Monday's highlight is expected to be an updated version of iOS, the software that runs iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches. It will be called iOS 7 and will come with new devices expected to go on sale this fall. Owners of recent models such as last fall's iPhone 5 will likely be eligible for free upgrades.
Icons in iOS now 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. The speculation is that Apple will do away with that theme in iOS 7. Instead, icons will look plain and simple, offering more consistency from app to app. The new design is likely to favor black and white elements rather than splashes of color.
While design modifications could help Apple distinguish its devices from rival phones and tablets, they risk alienating longtime users.
Microsoft's radical makeover of the Windows operating system in October was meant to give the company a stronger presence on tablet computers, but it ended up confusing many people who had become accustomed to using the old operating system on traditional desktops and laptops. IDC blamed Windows 8 for accelerating a decline in PC sales.