Wow, Apple really delivered on Monday at their WWDC keynote! Over half of the rumored announcements were announced on stage! I will go through all the announcements and explain what they mean to Apple’s millions of users.
After the obligatory store opening video, sales figures for the past year, and a shaky, but cool, iOS-powered, AI stock car demonstration, that Apple starts every keynote with, the firsts announcements were with Mac OSX. Apple started by announcing that the future versions of Mac OS will be named after famous place in California, since they are running short on big cat names and are dedicated to the future of the Mac, great to hear! The new version of Mac OSX, called Mavericks, is clearly focused on power users, who have been ignored for the most part by Apple, in recent years. Mavericks features a tabbed finder window allowing users to combine multiple finder windows into one and easily move files between them. The tabbed Finder also lets users have different view modes in each tab, it also adds tagging to the file browser to make finding files much easier. Tags appear on the finder sidebar and allows users to use advanced searching techniques to find files they need easily.
Mavericks also provides some much need enhancements to multiple displays, allowing the dock and menu to appear on each display and full-screen applications no longer interfere with other displays and lets users run multiple full-screen applications on multiple displays. Users can also switch Spaces on each display independently from the other screens. Mavericks allows users to use a HDTV with an Apple TV as a full HD display for their Mac. OSX Mavericks also has a lot of “under-the-hood” technologies to better utilizes system resources and power. Mavericks optimizes CPU and memory usage to minimize amount of system resources that are inactive, cutting down on load time and making the Mac more responsive for the users.
Mavericks has a greatly enhanced Safari, adding a new sidebar containing bookmarks, reading list and shared links for links shared by people followed on Twitter and LinkedIn. Safari also takes advantage of some of Mavericks speed enhancements, delivering information even faster and using less memory. The new OSX also takes Keychain, Apple’s Password management tool, and takes it to the cloud to sync them across devices. It is secure, using 256 bit AES encryption, and syncs web logins, credit card information, account information and WiFi passwords much like LastPass.
Mavericks packs major Notification Center enhancements, with the ability to respond to email, messages and facetime requests right from the notification. iOS App notifications can also appear on your Mac screen and notifications appear on the lock screen, it is not mentioned if this is done via iCloud, Bluetooth, WiFi or some other technology. Finally, Mac Apps updates can now install automatically!
The calendar in Mavericks has a much cleaner user interface, away from the skeuomorphic, leather design of years past. It adds enhanced location suggestions based on location, automatically adding travel time for appointments, even sending the user a notification of when they need to leave. It also adds weather information for appointments. OSX also has the now infamous Apple maps with flyover, points of interest and the ability to send directions directly to an iPhone or iPad. iBooks also is coming to Mac OS with full iCloud integration much how Kindle has WhisperSync to sync across devices. Mac OSX Mavericks will launch in the Fall, developers get a preview copy now! It looks like a fantastic update for the power users and end users alike!
As expected, Apple announced new Macbook Airs featuring Intel’s new Haswell processors and all-day battery life. It also has 802.11 AC, the newest wireless networking standard, the new Macbook Airs do not however offer a Retina display as rumored. The new Macbook Airs are shipping today, shipping at the same prices as the previous models but both featuring larger solid state hard drive than the previous entry-level Macbook Air.
Along with the new Macbook Airs, Apple released a new Airport Extreme routers and Time Capsules with 802.11 AC and Beamforming for enhanced throughput, all in a brand new rectangular design.
Apple gave a sneak peak of the highly anticipated new Mac Pro, featuring a brand new cylindrical design. It is built around a thermal core and features a 12-core Intel Xeon Processor, ultra fast flash storage, 2 Thunderbolt 2 ports for 20 GBps transfers and the only real expansion port on the device. It has Duel AMD graphics cards that can support multiple 4K displays, Apple said the Final Cut Pro team is already hard at work on a new version of Final Cut Pro X to support this new high resolution output. This was only a preview and the final product is scheduled to be released towards the end of this year, but at least pro users know they have something coming. The brand new design packs a lot of power, so hopefully it will give the high-end pro users what they have been waiting for.
The final Mac-related announcement was the first iWork update since 2009. iWork for iCloud allows users to edit iWork documents in web browsers both Macs and Windows computer, much like Google Drive and Office 365. iWork for iCloud give full editing capabilities in Safari, Google Chrome and even Internet Explorer with a wide range of editing tools. It also supports editing Microsoft Word documents, an iWork first! Much like many of the other announcements, it will be in developer beta starting now, and public beta will come later this year.
iOS 7 was the biggest announcement of the keynote, it has a completely redesigned user interface featuring a flatter, non-skeuomorphic design. iOS 7 has parallax movements meaning the phone moves as the screen moves with it, creating a 3D effect. iOS 7 lets users have multiple pages of apps within folders and can put that pesky Newstand icon in a folder, without super fast finger or jailbreaking. iOS’ default mail app took a page from popular Gmail client, Mailbox integrating swipe gestures to its user interface in addition to a brand new flat user interface. Notification center is now translucent and now features 3 tabs for Today (notifications from today), All and Missed notifications and is now available from the lock screen. Control center gives users quick access to settings like Do Not Disturb and Bluetooth everywhere, including the lock screen and even includes a flashlight!
Apple completely overhauled its multitasking interface, now allowing all apps to multitask and replacing the old multitasking bar with a card-like interface similar to Microsoft Metro. iOS 7 analyzes usage to effectively update information without draining power and system resources, and even goes as far as learning the schedule users open certain apps to know when is the best time to update information .
iOS apps will also update automatically just like in OSX Mavericks, once again this can be turned off. Safari was completely redesigned as well with redesigned tabs, and the addition of iCloud Keychain and shared links. The redesigned photos app now can use location data and time stamps to automatically organize pictures into moments and has some photo stream sharing enhancements including the addition of videos to photo stream. Photos also can be see all at once in a new zoomed out view.
Siri will get a much needed redesign and a new less robotic female voice and a new male voice. Siri can also control the phone operations and can access Twitter, Wikipedia and Bing. Siri for cars also added some new functionality allowing dictation and controls through cars and the addition of several new manufacturers supporting Siri in their cars. There was, however, no mention of making Siri more reliable or accurate.
The iOS App Store, got a facelift, and can now filter search results on age range. Apps can also be suggested based on current location, which might be helpful in a few situations, like at a museum as show on stage, but isn’t incredibly helpful. Like OSX Macericks, the iOS7 App Store now automatically installs app updates, although I do believe this can be disabled if the user wants.
The new music app has a brand new user interface and has the much rumored iTunes Radio. iTunes Radio is a free, ad supported streaming music service offering hundreds of Pre-made stations and users can create their own station based on any song, artist or genre, much like Pandora, Spotify and other streaming music services. It will work on iOS 7, Macs and PCS using iTunes and Apple TV. iTunes Match users get ad-free streaming, which I think makes the $25 much more worthwhile.
iOS 7 also has FaceTime audio calls, notification sync across devices so notifications only need to be dismissed once! Activiation Lock is added to Find My Friends so lost or stolen iPhones can’t be activated or even reset without the owners Apple Account password.
iOS 7 really is the biggest improvement Apple’s mobile platform has ever seen and while a lot of the features have been on other mobile platforms and mobile apps, its great to see these great features integrated into iOS. This will however make it hard for certain app developers like flashlight apps, now that a flashlight is built into iOS 7 as well as Pandora and other streaming services now that Apple will offer its own.
Overall, this was an amazing keynote with all these great new products. The only things I would have liked to see was: a new iPhone and of course an earlier release of the new operating system. Overall, it was a great announcement and can’t wait for the release of all these great new products.