Apple Knocks It Out Of The Park With Monday’s WWDC Keynote
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
At this morning´s WWDC Keynote event, Apple finally gave the world a peek at one of the most speculated about version of iOS ever, and just as many had predicted, it´s a departure from previous versions. Apple also showed off their latest version of Mac OS X, which sports several improvements meant to make the sharing of information between iDevices and Macs even easier.
The show wasn´t all about software, however. Developers can finally rest easy, as Apple announced that new, American made Mac Pros are making their way to the Apple store as are revamped MacBook Airs. Last, but in no means least, Apple also launched their hotly rumored radio streaming service, which they´re calling iTunes Radio. While this event was free of those “One More Things” Steve Jobs was famous for, there is one new feature which is sure to make the world a happier place: auto-updating apps in iOS.
Tim Cook repeated this line: “iOS 7 is the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of iPhone.” And he´s so right. What Apple showed off today is a completely different and thoroughly modern approach to smartphone use than anything seen before. Just as expected, the design of iOS 7 is completely re-imagined, with live wallpapers and a grid of icons which moves in parallax as you move the phone.
Apple also finally gave in to several requests that users had been making of the company for years. For example, the notification center is now available in the lock screen, and with a feature called Control Panel, users can quickly adjust settings by swiping up from the bottom of the phone. Music controls, Wi-Fi controls and even the flashlight can all be accessed from the Control Panel, removing much of the need for app and settings digging. Apps, like Message and Safari, now get some slight gesture navigation; swiping right takes you back to the previous screen. Siri has an all new voice and is no longer exclusively female, and with Activation Lock, thieves won´t be able to turn off or find your iPhone without a code.
One of the biggest responses to the event came when Apple announced all apps would update automatically, saving millions of iPhone users precious seconds every day. All told, iOS 7 is everything the rumors claimed it would be and nothing they claimed it would be, with equal parts flat, elegant design joined to the playful whimsy Apple is known for.
Mac OS X: Mavericks
The last ten iterations of OS X have been named after some sort of predatory cat — but no longer. Craig Federighi took the stage to announce that they´ll be naming future versions of the Mac OS after regions in their backyard, the state of California. Therefore Mac 10.9 will be known as Mavericks. During the demos, we got to see some of the tweaked designs in Mavericks. There were the typical under-the-hood tweaks as well as some more polishing to make working on a Mac even easier. Most notably, Mavericks makes using multiple displays even easier as well as using Apple´s little hobby, the Apple TV, as a second display. Mavericks is also said to open applications and documents even faster, even when the system is under a load.
Mavericks also brings the iPhone and the Mac closer together than ever before. Maps will now be available on the Mac, and sharing this map with an iDevice is as easy as tapping the share button. Notifications on iOS can even arrive on Mac, so you won´t have to pick up your phone every time you get an alert from your favorite sporting app. iBooks is also coming to Mavericks, allowing readers to effortlessly switch from iPad to the Mac. The developer preview of Mavericks is available today, and the official release will be this fall.
Phil Schiller got things started by announcing the newest MacBook Airs with the promise of “all day battery life.” These new machines are built on the new Intel Haswell processor, delivering both the speed and the power efficiency that these chips are known for. These newly upgraded MacBook Airs are available now and start at $999 for 11-inch models and $1,099 for 13-inch models. The real surprise was a “sneak peak” at the new Mac Pros, a machine developers have been clamoring about for many years. It looks like a powerful, small black pill from galaxies away, and promises to consistently outperform the old versions of the Mac Pro. This new machine will also support multiple 4K displays but won´t be available until later this year. And again, just as it had been rumored, these Macs are all American made.
Don´t call it iRadio. iTunes Radio is also everything the rumors claimed it would be, delivering stations based on artists you own as well as creating playlists based on what you´ve listened to in the past. It´s available on all the usual iOS devices as well as iTunes, which brings it to PC and even Apple TV. Like Pandora before it, iTunes Radio lets users start songs to play similar tracks and even give a song the “x,” asking iTunes Radio to never play it again.
Just as predicted, iTunes Radio will be free of charge and ad-supported, but those who already pay the $25 annual fee for iTunes Match will be able to listen without ads.
This year´s WWDC Keynote may very well be remembered as a turning point for a post-Jobs Apple. The improvements made to iOS and OS X look to turn away Android-toting detractors who have been calling for the death of Apple´s platforms for years.
And these detractors aren´t without merit. The now six year-old OS has been showing signs of aging recently, and Apple´s tick-tock release cycle of iPhones has left many wanting for new and innovative features. Apple hit a home run today, addressing many concerns and feature requests that users have been asking for for years, the most of which are found in iOS. The subtle touches which make Mavericks and iOS 7 work better together will unify the platforms and enhance user experience. Overall, the video shown at the beginning of the Keynote clearly laid out what would be shown today. Apple doesn´t just add features to add features. They think about these features and try to implement them the best they can. Today´s announcements are perfect examples of this.