In the words of Phill Schiller, “[Apple] can’t innovate anymore, my ass!”
The last year for Apple has been nothing short of unpredictable. After the unveiling of the newest groundbreaking iMac, the subtly-altered fifth generation iPhone, and the drastically botched 6th iteration of iOS, Apple’s stock has reached both record-breaking highs and jaw-dropping lows. Needless to say, Apple had no other choice but to go big or go home at the 24th annual World Wide Developers Conference, 2013. Did they deliver? Read on, Geeks!
OSX: First up at WWDC was Apple’s Mac lineup. After some fun facts about Mac’s dominance over the personal computer market, Craig Federighi proved why Mac is so superior with their next generation of OSX, entitled Mavericks…and no, that isn’t some sort of jungle cat. Take a look.
One of my favorite features of the new OSX occurs on the photo straight above. In competition with Google Now, events placed into your OSX calendar will suggest certain places to go based on your location, and it will also tell you when to leave from one location to reach the other on time. I can only hope this feature carries over to iOS 7 (unfortunately, it was not mentioned in the keynote), since iOS is the MOBILE component of Apple’s software, after all. As for OSX, Mavericks will be released later this calendar year.
iOS 7: An hour into WWDC, and the greatly-anticipated iOS 7 was up to bat. Needless to say, the lack of skeumorphism is a welcomed sight. As a result, the new iOS7 looks sharp and youthful. I’ll let the photos below explain themselves…
That said, iOS7, “The biggest change to iOS since the iPhone,” was the only portion of WWDC that received a standing ovation by the audience. Some other brief notes from the iOS segment include the ability for folders to hold multiple pages of apps instead of the 16-app maximum. The Notification Center has been restructured and can FINALLY be opened from the lock screen. The introduction of Control Center allows critical settings to be toggled on and off from anywhere in iOS. The AirDrop feature from OSX has been added to iOS. Finally, your apps from the AppStore can be updated automatically, with little to no input from you. iOS 7 will be released later this fall season.
The Unmentioned Native Apps of iOS: I couldn’t help but notice that the facelift of the highly skeumorphic Notes app was not revealed during WWDC, nor was Reminders touched on. The Calculator, which was only briefly shown during the iOS7 trailer, was also only barely touched on. Finally, the iWork and iPlay series, which both suffer from heavy skeumorphism, were not displayed, either. I understand Apple only has so much time to show off iOS7, but my curiosity is still peaked by these apps, since they are all very critical in our everyday lives.
Concerns: Apple claims to give iOS 7 the ability to run ALL apps in the background without sacrificing battery life, but they never explained HOW this feature wouldn’t affect battery life. They did mention that iOS7 would attempt to learn your usage patterns and update your apps in the background based on when iOS7 thinks it should. I would be curious how well this feature actually functions, however, especially alongside the highly-intuitive new UI that is bound to affect battery longevity, as well. Also, there were still no major advancements with the keyboard; other than a slightly new design, it still appears to function the same, which leaves iOS’s virtual keyboarding experience below par for many users. Finally, based on the keynote presentation itself, it would appear that the ugly red notification badges may still exist; hopefully these will be altered to match iOS 7’s new face.
New Services: The major new service that’s been rumored for iOS devices, iTunes Radio has been unveiled. Virtually, iTunes Radio is Apple’s take on Pandora, free and supported by ads or subsidized, ad-free, by your yearly iTunes Match subscription. FaceTime Audio Only provides high definition phone calls to iOS users, without the face, of course. Between this and iMessage, just think of it as one more way Apple is eliminating your dependence on your cellphone carrier. iCloud Keychain is another–not completely innovative but–extremely useful feature in which Safari remembers all of your numerous accounts’ passwords and other information associated with those accounts, including credit card numbers, all secured and encrypted, of course. Apple has also taken the liberty of adding more protection to the Find my IPhone feature, allowing even stolen and wiped/reset iPhones to remain inactive, unless the owner of the phone is successfully able to type in his or her iCloud username and password.
iOS Plays Catch-Up: Let’s get real; as fantastic as iOS 7 appears to be, there are a handful of features that already exist in other mobile operating systems, at least in some nature or form. For instance, AirDrop for iOS 7 is just a more mobile elaboration of NFC capabilities; it’s a fantastic innovation, but it would be even more so if NFC wasn’t several years old, now. Siri’s new smoother, fluently-spoken voice is a chip off the ole Google Now block, and her voice recognition wasn’t advertised to function offline like Google’s does. Control Center with quick access to Settings is a feature that’s adorned Android for many years.
New Hardware? No new iPhone. No new iPad(s). No new iWatch. Other than the revamped Mac Pro computer, new hardware was scarce at WWDC. Since most of Apple’s issues resided in software, however, I’m excited to see this being the case. I can wait a little while longer for the next iteration of Apple’s gadgets.
One Last-Minute Thing: During the demo of the newest, latest, and greatest Siri, there was a small tidbit revealed that begs me to wonder what’s going on. When describing the location Siri pulls information from, it was said that Siri not only searches “the world’s largest encyclopedia,” Wikipedia for answers, but she will also search Bing by default. Now, I understand that Apple would prefer to distance themselves from Google as much as possible, even though Google is arguably one of the most powerful search engines in the world, but why Bing? When considering that Bing is made by one of Apple’s longtime friendly competitors, Microsoft, I must wonder why Yahoo, the information supplier of Apple’s Weather and Stock widgets/apps was overlooked. Is this a sign that Apple is pulling away from Yahoo, and if so, for whom? Could or would Apple and Microsoft join forces anytime within the future. This, of course, is all just in the name of exciting speculation.
All things considered, I do believe WWDC 2013 has lived up to all the hype that’s been building around it for the last several months. Not only did OSX prove to still be a major contender in the PC department, but iOS7 may have given Apple its long-overdo boost in the mobile market. Finally, after an entire year of missteps from the giant in Cupertino, we may finally have a competition on our hands.