Apple’s worldwide developer conference, WWDC, has been on in San Francisco this week and, as is tradition, it kicked off with a revealing keynote that unveiled some new releases from the company. Most notable for mobile fans is the redesigned iOS 7 platform which looks to be the biggest aesthetic change in…well…ever. It will also usher in a few new features and improvements. Before we get into that let’s take a look at everything else Apple showed off.
The show opened with the guys from robotics company, Anki. It wasn’t the smoothest of demos, but when it worked watching these toy cars race around the track using an iOS device as remote control and AI brain was impressive. They described it as “a video game in the real world”.
OS X Mavericks
The latest version of Apple’s Mac operating system brought a bunch of performance improvements and a few new features. Finder Tabs add the kind of tabs you’re used to in browsers to the desktop, so you can keep track of windows more easily, Tags allow you to label items for easy searching later, support for multiple displays, and a speedier Safari browser. It also brings actionable notifications, so you can respond to the pop-up informing you about a new email or an event directly. The Calendar is smarter, and both Maps and iBooks make the leap to Macs. There’s support for password and credit card details to sync across all your devices with iCloud Keychain as well.
There was also iWork, which is easily summed up as Apple’s Google Docs, allowing you to edit Pages, Numbers, and Keynote documents in your browser and sync changes in the cloud.
New hardware – MacBook Air and Mac Pro
Apple’s notebook, the MacBook Air will have the latest specs, including the new Haswell processors. The main headline there is improved battery life – we’re talking up to 9 hours for the 15-inch version and 12 hours for the 13-inch model. Apple also showed off the super-powered Mac Pro, which is a fast and powerful option for power users that will be made in the U.S. and will probably cost a fortune.
Competition in the music streaming field has been getting intense so Apple’s new service is sure to cause a stir. You can choose from hundreds of pre-set radio stations, or you can create your own station based on your favorite artists or tracks. The service will learn what you like and help you to discover new music that should fit with your tastes. It can also suck in trending info from Twitter or tap into your friend’s favorites to deliver new tunes. Best of all it will be free for iOS users, although it will have ads. If you splash out $25 a year for iTunes Match then there are no ads. Typically it is U.S. only to begin with and there’s no word yet on when it will come to the UK.
Headlining the keynote was the predictable unveiling of iOS 7. As you can see the rumors about flat minimalism and lots of white space were true. Jony Ive killed the skeumorphic elements, which means no lined paper for notes, no leather covers for calendar, no wooden bookshelves for e-books, and no green felt for gaming. Everything is now neon and when you enter a menu there’s a translucent effect so you can see what’s underneath. There’s also a new depth effect on the wallpaper, which you can see as you change your viewing angle on the display, and animations have been thrown into the weather app.
Beyond the look there were some new features as well. Control Center is like a quick settings menu that you flip up from the bottom of the screen, so you can quickly toggle Wi-Fi on and off, or access the music controls. AirDrop lets you wirelessly share files with other iOS devices. There are also improvements to multitasking, a faster Safari, new filters in the camera, better organization by date and location for photos in your roll, wireless updates for everything, and new voices and options for Siri.
The move towards car integration took another step, as some new cars will support the ability to display iOS 7 on their dashboard displays. This means Siri voice control and access to maps, music and calls without having to touch, or even glance at, your iPhone.
The iOS 7 update will be rolling out to the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPod Touch (5th generation), iPad 2, iPad with Retina display, and the iPad mini “this fall”, so look for it from September onwards. It’s worth noting that not all of the new features will be available on all devices – check the bottom of this page on the Apple website for a full list.
Apple announced the iPhone 5 in September last year, so it’s a safe bet they’ll do the same this year and announce a new model of iPhone to coincide with the launch of iOS 7.