Apple has released a new beta of iOS 7 today, which is the fourth in the series. There are only a couple of months to go at most before we see the final edition roll out, so it’s not surprising that this update contains a variety of notable visual changes that smooth out some of iOS 7′s rough spots. There’s also a new iTunes beta of version 11.1, which brings iTunes Radio to the OS X desktop.
Apple introduced iTunes Radio when it unveiled iOS 7 and OS X 10.9 Mavericks back in June at WWDC 2013. iTunes Radio promises to be a streaming online radio service, sort of like Pandora, which allows anyone to make a genre or artist station, skip tracks and hear suggested artists, all included ad-free with the price of an iTunes Match subscription ($29.99 per year) or with audio and visual ads when accessed completely free.
On the desktop, iTunes Radio looks to operate pretty much the same as it does on mobile, providing access to some pre-set stations and letting users create their own. The interface is remarkably minimal for now, but Apple has left lots of room for custom stations. There’s also a button to let you buy songs being played back instantly in the “Now Playing” window, as you can see in the screenshot below provided by an anonymous tipster.
As for iOS 7, it receives a design change on the lock screen that addresses complaints that the original layout was confusing to users. Specifically, there’s now an arrow next to the “slide to unlock” text on the lock screen, and the down arrow on the status bar suggesting the notification center has been replaced with a solid bar (as you can see in the screenshot from 9to5Mac below). There are also numerous visual refinements and icon changes, including for AirPlay devices, as 9to5Mac notes, along with a screenshot detection API that Snapchat users will appreciate. We’ve also heard that shared links are now working in Safari, and likewise icons have been tweaked in the iOS mobile browser.
Typically, Apple has a minimum of four betas before a full release, and iOS 6 last year had four before the general public release in September. I expect we’ll probably see at least one more (if not more) this time around, as this is a major overhaul of iOS, with much more dramatic changes than in past versions.