The new software, iOS7, is said to mark a departure with icons and textures meant to mimic real-world objects, such as the torn yellow paper effect in the iPhone’s built-in Notes app.
Instead, Sir Jonathan will impose a simpler, flatter design approach to modernise the look of Apple’s mobile devices, which has change little since the iPhone was introduced in 2007.
The changes may seem only cosmetic, but given Apple’s focus on design and user interfaces they are the most anticipated element of chief executive Tim Cook’s keynote speech at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco on Monday evening. He has claimed that Sir Jony has “the best taste of anyone in the world”.
John Gruber, a leading Apple blogger, suggested that because the iPhone was the first mass-market touchscreen device, designers had sought to mimic the real world with 3D textures and “buttons” to help owners get used to a new form of interaction.
“The primary problem Apple faced with the iPhone in 2007 was building familiarity with a new way of using computers. That problem has now been solved. It is time to solve new problems,” he wrote.
“The training wheels can now come off. That’s what I think Apple’s going to do.”
It will be the first software update led by Sir Jonathan. He has previously led the design of hardware, but last year took control of software too when Scott Forstall, the previous executive in charge, was ousted in the wake of the embarrassment over Apple Maps. The replacement for Google maps was widely seen as a disaster, offering incomplete and inaccurate maps.
Mr Forstall was an advocate of iOS’s textures and fake leather effects, in contrast to Sir Jonathan’s minimalist and function-led approach to hardware design. Before Mr Forstall’s departure, the Briton diplomatically declined to comment of Apple’s software in an interview with The Telegraph.
Although WWDC is not used by Apple as a forum for major hardware announcements, the software update will be closely watched by investors for signs that Tim Cook and the company are responding to the strong competition they now face.
The rise of Samsung to become the world’s number one smartphone maker this year and the slowdown in Apple’s growth with the launch of the iPhone 5 have prompted more questions than ever about forthcoming products. Mr Cook has resolutely refused to be drawn, maintaining the company’s secrecy despite a drop of 35pc in Apple’s share price since September.
Since iOS appeared, Google’s Android mobile operating system has become dominant in the market, for instance. Both it and Microsoft’s Windows Phone software have introduced home screens that are constantly updated with fresh information from Facebook and Twitter, while iPhone owners are presented with a static grid of icons.
But Apple will be careful not to impose too much change at once, for fear of alienating hundreds of millions of loyal iPhone and iPad users, who typically rush to upgrade their software as soon as a new version. Research last week found 93pc of iPhones in North America run iOS6, released last September. Less than a third of Android users are on the latest version of Google’ rival software.
As well as the iOS update, Apple is expected to announce a music streaming service to rival Spotify. Dubbed “iRadio” by observers, the new service is expected to be supported by advertising.