Apple Delivers on WWDC 2013 - iOS 7 and its Cool New Interface


We're writing this as we sit in on the 2013 Apple World Wide Developers' Conference - which sold all 6000 available seats this year in 71 seconds. Our goal here is to deliver the most relevant breaking news as soon as we are able to do so. There is a lot we'll leave out here - such as the amazing Anki Drive - a new combination of "real world" robotics and video games. Look for detailed analysis - especially of the new iOS in subsequent in-depth articles.

So, about that mobile device innovation we've been waiting the better part of a year to hear about - iOS? Let's be honest - no, there was nothing presented today that qualifies as truly new innovation... It was all incremental. We'll tackle iOS 7 last, but we'll note here that the interface - which we would absolutely refer to as "all new" - goes significantly beyond iOS 6 in terms of sheer design artistry. We can say that. There was absolutely nothing presented that we would classify as gimmicky - not a single thing that we would classify as gratuitous. Everything that is new feels exactly right - as it should be in mid-2013.

If anything the new iOS interface - and a number of welcome new features - truly represents a major step forward in iOS interface design and takes iOS several steps forward in terms of look, feel, and interactions with the device itself. We'll definitely score it an "A" as far as the new interface is concerned.

But is it "so new" that current users may find it unrecognizable and difficult to get around? Some have expressed this perspective but our view of it is that it is total nonsense. iOS 7 is both entirely new yet entirely recognizable. We cannot wait to get it onto our own iPhones.

But did Apple exhibit any pure new next generation innovation? Perhaps the new Mac Pro breaks some ground. Otherwise, alas no - there was scant little of it around. Certainly not the level of innovation that will drive new levels of Apple hysteria either from consumers or the financial community.

Without a doubt the entire two hour keynote was a buildup to those iOS 7 details…beginning with the usual Tim Cook updates on Apple's retail and app store activities. Apple now as 575 million active accounts with credit cards at the ready, and has now paid out $10 billion dollars out to developers (one can imagine the loud applause in the room at that news). $5 billion of that has come in the first half of 2013 - the implication being that anyone who thinks things are slowing down for Apple's app ecosystem is clearly barking up the wrong tree.

Next, Cook focused on the Mac - now sporting 72 million users. Cook suggests - as he always does, that Apple's goal is to deliver an amazing user experiences. He's happy with 72 million happy users (representing 100 percent growth over 5 years) rather than 350 million "unhappy" PC users.

The Next Mac OS - Mavericks

Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering then took the stage to focus on the Mac OS. A huge problem Apple faced is in running out of large cat names to continue its naming traditions. So an important shift has occurred - the new OS is now named for major surfing sites, beginning with…Mavericks. If you are a surfer (we mean the kind that surfs real waves), you'll know. There are now Finder Tabs and Tagging. There is new enhanced support for multiple displays, including independent control for each display. There are new Safari features we won't elaborate on here, but a key new feature is how little "battery power" Safari uses compared to Chrome or Firefox.

Among a host of other incremental updates, iBooks and new enhanced Mapping capabilities will become available. Federichi used the term "super cool" in talking about Maps. A quick demo showed off Map flyovers ("hey, you can see right through the structure of the Eiffel Tower").

New Mac Pro and the 12 Hour Mac Air

Next up is Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing. As we've been expecting, there is a new Macbook Air line - based on Intel's Haswell architecture. Schiller claims the number one goal for the new Air lineup s all day battery life. - ranging from 9 hours on the 11 inch model to 12 hours on the 13 inch Air. 802.11ac Wi-Fi support included, along with new Airport base station devices delivering 802.11ac support. The new Airs begin shipping today.

Next came a special sneak preview of the new Mac Pro desktop - something that defines what the desktop is going to deliver over the next decade - also based on Intel architecture. The preview was in the form of a short video depicting a…cylindrical machine - Schiller exclaimed "Can't innovate anymore…my ass!"

The new machine will support multiple 4k display streams - huge for content developers. The specs themselves are simply beyond outstanding - we aren't going to list them here but we'll come back to it all in a separate article. The machine occupies one eighth the volume of the current machines - it's tiny.

It's also not only designed in America, it will also be built in the United States. The new machine will be available later this year.

Next up was an overview of new iCloud features…which we'll leave for another day.

Here it is - iOS 7

Tim Cook then took back the stage to run us through a collection of statistics - we'll cover these in our standalone iOS 7 article coming soon. The main gist of it is that Apple's iOS is blowing away Android on all fronts. Cook notes that iOS6 is by far the single most used OS, with the number two spot held by a version of Android delivered in 2010. With that, Cook introduced the new iOS 7 by way of a Jony Ive narrated video.

Following the video Craig Federighi returned to run us through some details. New fonts, new icons, new colors, new typography, new interactions, and something actually new - collections of icons sitting over a background image moving independently of the background, providing a cool 3D effect. Move the iPhone side to side or up or down and the icons shift over the background. As expected the entire new design is clean and minimalist while not taking away from functionality. As we noted earlier, there is real artistry in the overall UI design itself. We'll provide images in our upcoming standalone iOS 7 article, but here is one quick view of it:

It's not simply about the interface however - there are many new features.

  • New Control Center: Swipe up from the bottom and there it is, including from the lock screen
  • Multitasking: Will now be available for all applications - while maintaining battery power efficiency. Simple to move in and of running apps. This is a major change...
  • Safari: Improved navigation, unlimited tabs, forward and backwards through simple swipes, and a host of other features we won't detail here
  • AirDrop: Easy to share between users who support share sheets, including multiple users. Just tap on your screen and whatever you want to share in transferred - but no need to "go around and bump phones all over the place" (hah!)
  • Camera: Four camera in one and like photo filters - not a whole lot here
  • Photos App: Users can now manage and organize photos into "Moments" but the app provides the organization without need of user intervention (reminds us a bit of the photo organizing capabilities Google introduced at Google I/O). Photo sharing supported through iCloud of course
  • Siri: New interface and new voices - including a male voice. New voices for French and German (what, no Italian?!) with other languages coming. The new Siri provides better control over features (such as brightening the screen)
  • Siri and iOS in the Car: Integration coming across numerous brands in 2014
  • Automatic App Store Updates: No longer any need to manually update apps
  • Music App: Offers several new visuals
  • iTunes Radio: Streaming music built right into the Music App. Provides various customizations (e.g. create your own radio stations - again not unlike what Google introduced )
  • High Quality Wi-Fi Calls
  • Activation Lock: Completely prevents anyone finding a lost or stolen iPhone from activating the phone
  • Over 1,500 new APIs for Developers

The new iOS 7 is now in beta and will be made available later this year, ad will be available for iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, iPad Mini and next generations iPads. AirDrop however will not be available on iPads prior to the mini and next generation, or on iPhones older than the iPhone 5.

All in all it is remarkable that the new interface and most features will be available on iPhones dating back to the iPhone 4. That means most iPhone users will be able to put the new UI to use. It will be interesting to see what actually happens in terms of Apple's vaunted ecosystem of eager upgraders. Will the new UI truly lead to integration or will it deliver a first real iOS fragmentation scenario? We won't know until aft erh2013 and the 2013 holiday buying season are over. But we do know we'll be among the first in line to upgrade.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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TechZone360 Senior Editor

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