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Marco della Cava, USA TODAY

SAN FRANCISCO - In some ways, Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference Monday was business as usual: a black-shirted executive extolling innovations to an auditorium packed with tech press and giddy fans. But make no mistake, in the mushrooming war over mobile this was nothing less than the unveiling of CEO Tim Cook's battle plan.

In announcing the graphically distinct iOS7 platform, Apple signaled its determination to counter the growing threat to its market-share dominant iPhones from a range of competitors but notably Samsung, whose incessant Galaxy ads often poke fun at the cult-like devotion generated by the late Steve Jobs.

STORY:Apple announces major iOS redesign

GALLERY:Images from the Apple keynote

Apple acolytes have had to stand by and watch as rivals offered larger, personalized screens while their once talismanic devices seemed to slip off the cutting edge. But with iOS7, which bears the stamp of resident design guru Jony Ive and will bow this fall with the next iteration of iPhone, the tech titan aims to reassure consumers and investors alike that it still has cultural mojo.

The hallmark of iOS7 is a graphic design overhaul, with icons and content whose look shifts from a textured feel (no more fake leather blotter on iCal) to a flatter, simpler display all amounting to "the biggest change in iOS since the introduction of the iPhone," said Cook. An iOS7 video starring the soft-spoken Ive showed an iPhone 5 whose screen boasted translucency, depth and animation; now, when the weather app forecasts rain, drops fall. "In many ways, (it's) a beginning," said Ive.

There was other news out of the 24thWWDC - ranging from feature upgrades to OS X, now called Mavericks after the fabled California surf spot, to videos of Apple's newest store in a 100-year-old Berlin theater - but these were mere sideshows. Apple arguably created our happy smartphone disease, and it hopes iOS7 will help once again give the world a fever.

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