Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) kicked off with the keynote address on Monday, and wow was there a lot of exciting news! This is a quick roundup of some of the most exciting announcements.
Perhaps the most anticipated announcement was the new operating system for Apple’s mobile computing lineup, and the news did not disappoint. Jony Ive’s first take on the iOS system includes a complete overhaul of its style and feel. Typefaces, baked-in apps, color schemes, and icons all get a makeover. For the first time, a new generation of iOS actually looks entirely new, not like a small step up from a predecessor. Ive’s design objective was to create something unobtrusive and to eliminate unnecessary elements, like scroll bars, so that all focus was on the content. And that effect appears to be the result of this redesign.
The new iOS design also includes a parallax effect, using motion sensors to give a sense of depth to display elements. This feature is enhanced by the use of layers and translucency, giving the appearance that a popup message is floating in front of the main content window.
The oft used Control Center is finally available from everywhere (previously a function only available to jailbreakers). Simply swiping from the bottom of the screen allows access to Control Center where the user can access many of the phone’s most useful functionality. The new Control Center also allows greater control over features that were previously all stand alone apps, like Camera, Music, Calculator, etc.
Multitasking has evolved to a more Cover Flow like arrangement, and the operating system even learns user preferences so that your favorite apps are prepared even before you open them (in other words, they open really fast).
Notification center gets a smarter view, organizing notifications by today, all, and missed, and will sync across all iOS devices.
Siri gets the overhaul of all of her sister apps, along with new voices and more functionality. For example, she will now understand commands to change the device’s brightness or play voicemails. No longer will she simply be a glorified search engine agent, though her web prowess will improve, too, with integration for services like Twitter, Bing, and Wikipedia.
The Music app has also received a facelift and a lot of new features like iTunes Radio, a Pandora-like music streaming service that will be free, though ad supported.
The Photo and Camera apps received an update to layout that doesn’t reduce every image to a tiny icon, but keeps them larger and easier to navigate. The apps will also automatically organize your photos by collections, moments and years, so that you can find photos you took at a particular time or at one specific location. The Camera app will add filters similar to Instagram.
iOS gets Air Drop with this update. Like the desktop version, AirDrop allows sharing of anything in your phone very easily with other phones or desktop computers over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
Apple’s built-in browser, Safari, got the same overhaul as the rest of iOS. It no longer has any scrolling bars or buttons while you look at content, only showing them when you click. It has a new tab view that looks appealing, and a useful new shared links bookmark list, which collects all the URLs posted by you or your Twitter friends.
An iCloud based keychain makes its debut in iOS7, as well. This new feature will store all your passwords, credit card numbers, and anything else you want in the cloud using 256-bit AES encryption. It will also generate random passwords for you that will be stored in the cloud. Think 1Password but with full Safari integration and using Apple’s native services rather than DropBox.
Facetime now allows voice only calls, so you can call iPhone carrying contacts over Wi-Fi without having to contend with the video element.
iOS7 also adds a new anti-theft feature called activation lock that will prevent would-be thieves from using your stolen device.
iOS wasn’t the only operating system getting an overhaul. The standard Mac computer operating system, OS X, will be getting its next iteration called “Mavericks.” Aside from a number of small improvements, probably only of interest to power users, this update will follow the trend of borrowing from mobile operating systems to improve desktop and laptop experiences. Behind the scenes, however, OS X Mavericks will make a number of noticeable changes to performance that will improve battery life, compress memory, and make the system run 1.5x faster than OS X Mountain Lion. OS X Mavericks will also get the iCloud keychain, updates to Safari and Maps, and iBooks will make its debut on the OS X platform.
A new Macbook Air will come packing the new Intel Haswell processors. That will equate to significantly improved battery life. For example, rather than being able to play 6 hours of HD video, the new system should pump out 9 hours of high resolution glory. Regular use will net you about a 50% improvement in battery life over the previous model. The Air will also come sporting dual built-in microphones, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a 40% faster flash-based hard drive, and a starting price tag of $1000 for the 128GB 11″ model. Not too shabby!
Mac Pro’s, those workhorses of the entertainment and graphic design industry, those wonders of computer technology with incredible specs and amazing power just got even cooler with a new redesign. The new Mac Pro will support up to a 12-core configuration (that’s a lot of cores!), has the fastest ECC memory Apple has ever used (clocking at 1866 MHz DDR3), Firewire and the new Thunderbolt 2 I/O ports, and AMD FirePro graphics capable of supporting up to 3 of the new 4K “ultra HD” monitors. But, perhaps the most eye-catching change is the redesigned chassis: all that power in a black, circular tower that takes up 1/3 the volume of space of the previous Mac Pro while still allowing easy access to the internals for near effortless upgrades to the hardware.