At the 24th World Wide Developers Conference today, Apple unveiled new software and hardware coming soon from the company. The keynote presentation by CEO Tim Cook and other executives previewed new versions of its mobile and desktop operating systems, as well as new laptop and desktop computers.
Cook saved the new iOS 7 for the last segment of the two-hour-long keynote, starting off praising attendance at the show itself – tickets sold out in a mere 71 seconds - and Apple retail stores, which see a million people pass through their doors every day.
The App Store also got its due, with its fifth birthday coming up next month. The store now boasts 900,000 iOS apps and there have been 50 billion downloads in its half-decade of existence. Cook said that Apple has paid developers $10 billion - $5 billion of that just in the past year.
Getting desktop news out of the way
Perhaps the biggest news was the change of naming scheme for new OS X versions. Since 2001, release versions of the desktop operating system have been named after big cats, from Cheetah to Mountain Lion. Now, as large feline species have been mostly exhausted, further versions will be named after California destinations. The first is a surfing spot called Mavericks.
The new operating system will include a tabbed interface for the venerable Finder file manager, tagging for all files to improve search and organization, and improvements to multiple displays. The developer preview is available now, with a final release scheduled for this fall.
New MacBook Air models will have improved battery life and be reduced in price. Meanwhile, a new Mac Pro desktop, shaped like a small cylinder, is designed for video editors, musicians, photographers, videographers, and anyone else who wants an “expandable” workhorse system. Highlights include faster flash memory, a faster Thunderbolt 2 expansion bus, and support for up to three 4K displays. It’s expected sometime “later this year” and will be assembled in the good old USA.
There was also mention of iWork for iCloud, making Apple’s productivity suite available to both Mac and PC users via a web browser. Developers can access it today, while a public beta is due, again, “later this year.”
Mobile updates excite crowd
The WWDC audience really lit up when Tim Cook mentioned iOS. The latest version, 6, is utilized by 93 percent of iOS users, with another 6 percent on version 5. He introduced iOS 7 as “the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of iPhone.”
From a design standpoint, iOS 7 features redesigned icons, a new palette of colors, extensive use of transparency, and parallax backgrounds to give the illusion of depth in the interface. A live demo showed off subtle motion of clouds in the native weather app, new swipe navigation gestures, and multiple pages in app folders.
iPhone and iPad fans should really enjoy 10 key new features in iOS 7:
Control Center, which provides access to key phone settings with a single swipe up from the bottom of the screen.
Multitasking for all apps rather than a select few.
An updated Safari web browser with a new fullscreen look, a smart search field with favorites, and a new tab view.
AirDrop for sharing content with other users physically close to you.
A Camera app with live photo filters.
An improved Photos app that automatically labels and organizes pictures based on date and location, and also makes sharing easier.
Siri’s new female or male voice, as well as integrated Twitter, Wikipedia and Bing search results.
iOS in the Car, which integrates the iPhone with displays and speakers in cars from many manufacturers.
An App Store that updates apps automatically and can be searched by age range and current location.
A Music App that includes iCloud songs and movies as well as iTunes Radio, a new music discovery service.
All these new features are exciting not only for end users, but for developers, who can build more functionality into existing apps or come up with brand new app ideas. Developers can preview iOS 7 now, while the final release is scheduled for this fall.
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