Apple’s WWDC 2013: wrap-up

After much anticipation, hype and buildup, Apple’s WWDC 2013 wrapped up today with a number of great news for developers and customers out there. As expected, major updates to both iOS and OS X were announced at today’s press conference. Skeumorphism was almost nearly abandoned on both operating systems, with Apple executives joking about the felt, stitching and leather textures featured in the older versions of the operating systems. The latest OS X, steering away from the feline naming convention that we were accustomed to, is now dubbed Mavericks. In many ways, the company’s announcement of the many software tweaks of its operating systems further exemplifies Apple catching up to the industry design norms today. As far as hardware goes, a new line of cheaper MacBook Airs sporting Intel’s new Haswell processors were announced, as well as the long-anticipated redesign of the Mac Pro Desktop. However, there were no signs of the much rumored iWatch. Want more details on WWDC 2013? Read on to find out more!


With a number of laptops now sporting Intel’s new Haswell processors, the company also announced a refreshed line of MacBook Airs that will be using the said chip. Comes with the announcement are promises of dramatic battery improvements, with an 11-inch Air now expected to get 9hours of battery life, and the 13-inch with 12hours. A 40% boost on graphics processing power is also to be expected, says Apple. Shipping today starts for the new Airs, with SRPs of $999 for the 11-inch variant and $1,099 for the 13-inch one.

A newly redesigned Mac Pro was also announced in WWDC 2013. It now comes with dual AMD GPUs, claiming 7 teraflops of performance and supports Thunderbolt2 and 4K displays. The high-end desktop is also several inches shorter and thinner than the previous version. The machine is slated to come later this year and is being manufactured in the US.

Lastly, the AirPort Extreme router and Time Capsule backup, Apple’s pair of internet peripherals were also updated, with next generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi (which is said to offer 1.3Gbps of throughput) being added to both. Airport Extreme is available now for $199, while 2TB and 3TB versions of the new Time Capsule will be available for $299 and $399, respectively.

iOS 7

iOS 7 got an overall interface overhaul from Jony Ive. Keeping the same basic structure of iOS, the new and improved operating system now features redesigned icons that have a flatter and more stylized look. Gradients were stripped out and the whole UI’s palette was given a brighter and simpler tone. Scrolling through the menus and apps also provides a subtle parallax feel. Fonts were also slimmed down, and a new version of the classic slide-to-unlock function of iOS was also introduced.

A translucent panel dubbed Control Center now slides up from the bottom for quick access to frequently used settings such as Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, flashlight, and rotation lock. You can also adjust brightness, manage music playback, and connect to AirPlay or AirDrop on the panel. Bringing the same feature from the Mac, AirDrop is a new way to share files over Wi-Fi on iOS. Initially available on the iPhone 5, it is a secure and encrypted means to transfer files from one iPhone to another. AirDrop could be configured to accept files from other people on the same network or just your contacts.

Touch gestures will also be more utilized in iOS 7 with its reliance on more swiping and pinching. More so, folders are now capable of storing unlimited apps. As far as multitasking goes for iOS 7, it is now similar to how webOS and Windows Phone behaves. Double-tapping the home button gives you large thumbnails of your apps with identifying icons underneath them. You can scroll horizontally through them, with three available on the screen at a time.

The Notification Center has also been overhauled in iOS 7. Now, the operating system allows you to access notifications from the lock screen. Notifications are now also synced between devices so there is no more need to dismiss the same update multiple times. The top of the new Notification Center features three tabs, “today,” “all,” and “missed.” The first is a bit reminiscent of Google Now: it gives you a heads-up on what’s coming up today, with calendar appointments, weather, birthday notifications, stock prices, and more. The pull-down menu is now transparent, and it features the new fonts and swipe interactions we’ve seen in the rest of the updated operating system.

Taking design and functionality cues from other advanced apps, the Photos app on iOS automatically organizes photographs into categories called “moments”, which is based on where and when the images were taken. Photos will be then correspondingly labeled based on the moment they’re in. Increased emphasis on sharing is also evident on the redesigned app, with photos now possible to be automatically cropped into a square shape for Instagram uploads. Photostreams can also now be shared, which allows users to create streams that friends could add photos into.

The App Store, not to be left behind, is now hooked into the phone’s GPS to offer app suggestions based on your current location. More so, app updates are now made automatic similar to Android. Siri also got an overhaul, with the new version coming with male or female voice options that are both more natural-sounding than the previous one. Support for several languages is provided, as well as multiple data sources for Siri. Now, Wikipedia and Twitter could be searched for queries, with Bing coming in as Apple’s search partner for pulling web results.

Not to be outdone by other streaming music services, Apple also launched today the iTunes Radio, a free albeit ad-based streaming music service that offers radio stations similar to other competing services. However, what sets Apple’s version apart is that iTunes Radio is geared more toward song purchases rather than purely streaming music. The initial version of the service is integrated into the Music app and offers selected radio stations that can be shared with your friends.

Lastly, Apple today announced that its latest iOS version will be sporting turn-by-turn directions and expanded vehicle options. A new system, dubbed “iOS in the Car”, is set to mirror your iPhone on the display found on your car, which means maps, Siri, messages and the like will be directly available to you from the car’s dashboard. However, we would have to wait before fully benefitting from this, as manufacturers will begin adding the feature to their cars in 2014.

OS X 10.9 Mavericks

For OS X, a number of optimizations and revamps are incorporated to OS X 10.9. First, navigation is a big focus in Mavericks. For the first time in OS X, Finder windows would not be cluttering your desktop as the new OS now supports browser-style tabs. Tags could also now be used to simplify search and organization of files.

The leather and felt interfaces of previous OS X versions have now been stripped away. The new Calendar features a flatter and softer feel, with the Game Center, phone and messaging apps undergoing the same aesthetic changes. iBooks, which was previously available only in iOS, is also coming to OS X.

Apple Maps, initially one of the more embarrassing pieces of Apple software, has gotten some attention with a desktop version for OS X and an SDK that lets developers add Apple Maps directly to their Mac apps. Desktop and mobile maps are integrated with the option to push directions to an iPhone.

Multiple display support has been fixed in Mavericks, with the Mission Control tool being redesigned to focus more on extra and extended displays. Now you can use two fullscreen apps at once, and if you have an Apple TV, the new features can extend to your television as well with AirPlay.

Notifications similar to iOS also come to OS X 10.9. Now, you can quickly reply directly from a notification without having to open the specific app. Push notifications from your iOS device can also be received directly on your Mac computer.

This year also marks dramatic changes Safari will be sporting. The redesigned browser features a new sidebar that will hold bookmarks, but it will also integrate reading lists as well as links shared by friends on Twitter and LinkedIn, turning it into a limited client for your social networks. In terms of sheer performance, Apple showed off a set of benchmarks putting Safari on top of its other competitors. More so, Macs and iOS devices will have access to a new feature called iCloud Keychain that can remember passwords and credit card information to auto-suggest them in Safari.

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