Apple just unveiled a completely redesigned iOS and a music discovery service called iTunes Radio during an incredibly fast-paced WWDC keynote. Tim Cook and other Apple executives also announced a brand new Mac Pro, updated MacBook Airs, iWork apps for the web and OS X Mavericks.
Rumours of an impending shift in the design language for the iPhone and iPad’s software circulated for months before today’s event, but none captured the precise look-and-feel of Apple’s radically different iOS 7. The redesigned user interface makes heavy use of light, floating text, places less emphasis on icons and navigation cues, and features a brighter colour scheme. It’s also much more responsive to motion with a parallax effect which allows users to see their wallpaper behind icons when the phone is moved in any direction. And while the home screen still features the traditional 4×5 app grid, all those app icons look entirely different on Apple’s new operating system. iOS 7 also saw the introduction of ten new features, including improved multitasking with background updating for apps used most often, and the ability to scroll horizontally through app icons and windows as they last appeared. Control Centre removes the need to dig through settings menus, with a bevy of frequently-accessed preferences now available via a gesture up from the bottom of the screen. Elsewhere, the new Find My iPhone activates a device-wide lock if it is turned off or erased to prevent thieves from selling stolen iOS devices, the App Store now shows popular apps near users’ current location and downloads updates automatically, and FaceTime does audio calls over Wi-Fi. The announcement revealed massive foundational changes to iOS design, led by Jony Ive, which make third-party apps look all but obsolete in the lead-up to a Spring public release.
The new hardware occupies an eighth of the space of its very outdated predecessor, sporting a cylindrical industrial design and shiny black veneer. The new Pro features “dual GPUs, PCI Express-based flash storage, high-performance Thunderbolt 2, new-generation Xeon processors, ultrafast memory, and support for 4K video,” but consumers may just as easily be impressed by a motion sensor which lights up its four USB 3, six Thunderbolt 2 and two Gigabit Ethernet slots when the device is rotated to the front.
Apple’s thinnest notebook received the only other hardware refresh this morning, bringing the latest Haswell ULT processors from Intel, extended battery life (9 hours for 11-inch models and 12 hours for 13-inch), faster Wi-Fi and more storage and RAM at the base configurations. Both models are already available in stores with 128GB flash storage and 4GB RAM.
Aside from the name, OS X Mavericks brings a few modest changes to the Mac operating system. First, it brings Maps and iBooks, previously iOS-exclusive apps, to the desktop. The former has all the same features as its mobile sister app, including turn-by-turn navigation, but also with the ability to send directions to iPhones and iPads on the same Wi-Fi network. The latter splits the iBookstore from iTunes and into its own native storefront, reminiscent of the Mac App Store (which, coincidentally, now updates apps in the background). There’s also redesigned apps like Calendar, which is no longer fitted with many of the infamous skeuomorphic design elements, but has new functionality, such as better integration with Facebook Events.
Web services also see a big improvement in Mavericks. Safari has a list of links shared from the Twitter timeline to click on and runs faster with its latest version. iCloud can now remember passwords and personal information such as credit card numbers, which are encrypted and synced across all Apple devices, and the service even suggests strong passwords for use with new online accounts. Notifications also do more: they allow basic interaction without opening their parent app (for example, replying to a message from the top right corner) and sync with iOS notifications.
Three key features were introduced to the Finder: Finder Tabs, which work exactly as keen file organisers will expect them to, Tags, which can be added to each document at the Save menu and colour-coded for quicker searching, and enhanced Multiple Displays support, letting users drag windows across screens and keep certain apps on the computer display only. There were also detailed explanations of power saving technologies, including App Nap, which keeps processor-intensive apps dormant while they’re not in users’ sight.
OS X Mavericks, like most products announced at the keynote, won’t be released until Fall but developers can access a beta version immediately to make their apps compatible with the changes.
New Airport Express and Time Capsule
Phil Schiller has just announced that Apple is releasing new AirPort Base Stations with all-new designs. Design-wise, both the new Time Capsule and AirPort Extreme are rectangular now with dimensions that measure approximately four inches wide by 6.5 inches tall. The biggest addition to the Base Station hardware is support for 802.11ac, which offers connection speeds up to 1.3Gbps. The Base Stations also offer improved WiFi coverage and stability through Beamforming technology and a six-antenna array (three for the 2.4GHz band and three for the 5GHz band). Similar to earlier models, both the Time Capsule and the AirPort Extreme have three Gigabit ethernet LAN ports, one Gigabit ethernet WAN port and one USB 2.0 port for an external printer or hard drive.
Apple announced iTunes Radio™, a free Internet radio service featuring over 200 stations and an incredible catalog of music from the iTunes Store®, combined with features only iTunes® can deliver. When you tune into iTunes Radio on your iPhone®, iPad®, iPod touch®, Mac®, PC or Apple TV®, you’ll have access to stations inspired by the music you already listen to, Featured Stations curated by Apple and genre-focused stations that are personalized just for you. iTunes Radio evolves based on the music you play and download. The more you use iTunes Radio and iTunes, the more it knows what you like to listen to and the more personalized your experience becomes. iTunes Radio also gives you access to exclusive “first listen” premieres from top selling artists, Siri® integration, plus the ability to tag or buy anything you hear with just one click. Coming this fall, iTunes Radio will offer you an incredibly personalized experience on day one based on your listening history and past purchases from iTunes. In addition, if you’re listening to a song you like from iTunes Radio or your music library you will be able to have a station built around those. It’s easy to create and customize stations based on whatever you want to hear. Search for artists, songs, or genres, and iTunes Radio will instantly build a station around your choice.
iWork for iCloud
iWork has been a traditional software suite ever since it first launched (the brief availability of iWork.com notwithstanding), but Apple is bringing it to the web in earnest today by revealing iWork for iCloud. The suite includes Keynote, Numbers and Pages, and each of the web apps preserves many of the same real-time editing features as its iOS and Mac counterparts. The collection officially supports Chrome, Internet Explorer and (logically) Safari, although you’ll likely be waiting awhile to try them: only developers get an iWork beta today, and a public beta is due later this year.