Although it was slightly overshadowed by the start of E3 2013, Apple, too, kicked off their WWDC 2013 conference yesterday, 10th June 2013 (runs until the 14th June), at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Despite this, Apple amazed all media in attendance with an impressive line-up of upgrades to their current repertoire hardware and software. There were three main announcements on the first day:
Unequivocally, the most talked about announcement during yesterday’s news fest was the relaunch of the Mac Pro. Before delving into any specifications, you can’t help but be amazed at the new cylindrical look. Whether you love it or hate it, it is quite a bold redesign from Apple from a ruggedised metallic chassis to something that looks fairly close to an energy cell used to power the spaceships in Sci-Fi films, at an eighth of the size.
If any potential buyers are disturbed by the new look, then maybe the hardware specs will swing your vote. Under the hood you’ll find a 12-Core, 256-bit Intel Xeon E5 CPU, 1,866MHz DDR3 RAM with 60GBps read speed, flash storage, 4x USB 3.0 and 6x Lightning 2.0 ports (light-up), HDMI 1.4, WiFi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, dual gigabit Ethernet, and a few 3.5mm audio jacks. The most important spec for avid fans is it graphics processor, a dual AMD FirePro GPU, with support for 4K displays. Apple have noted that the new design is possible thanks to its thermal core; a triangular air duct, which runs down the centre of the unit with a large fan mounted on top.
Although the Mac Pro received quite a lot of attention, media was abuzz with iOS rumours weeks before its actual reveal. Apple continued with its standard naming convention with iOS 7, which has been labelled by Tim Cook as “the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the iPhone.” These words ring true for the mobile OS, as many new features have been added, as well as a new design. Design changes are noticeable from the lock screen (although not much), and trickles down to the new flatter, minimalistic icons. Other new design changes include updated typography, animations, and transparencies. The Messages and Game Centre apps have seen most of the updates, while many of the other proprietary apps, such as Weather and Calendar, have also been updated. New features on iOS 7 include the addition of the Control Centre, multitasking, Safari updates, updated Camera and Moments, Siri (discussed below), AirDrop, updated App Store, and activation lock, to name a few.
The Control Centre can be accessed by the user at any time, from within any app, to adjust brightness, turn on Airplane mode, toggle Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as well as music playback. The Moments feature is simply a type of scrapbooking feature, allowing users to create albums by date and place. The new AirDrop feature is a peer-to-peer Wi-Fi sharing service to compete against that found on Samsung TouchWiz smartphones. Activation Lock is a theft deterrent feature, which requires the re-activation via iTunes for unlock swipes from all those other than the main user. iOS 7 will be available on the iPhone 5, iPhone 4 and 4S, the iPad 2 and later models, and all 5th-generation iPods. As with most of the software announced, developers will get first access, while it will roll out to normal users sometime in Q3.
OS X Mavericks:
Apple’s new desktop operating system has, OS X Mavericks, is named after a California giant wave surfing spot. New features include finder tabs, tagging, multiple displays with AirPlay, notifications, updated Calendar, weather and Facebook integration. Apple has also added Maps to OS X, which allows you to send navigation to your iPhone, much like Google does with its Maps app. Other inclusions are the iBooks app, Study Cards, and Xcode 5 (new tools for developers). Apple has also promised to bring improved battery life to its laptops of up to 72%.
Apple have also updated and announced a few other products on the first day of the conference; these include the new MacBook Air, updated Siri, iTunes Radio, and iWork for iCloud.
As is common practice for Apple over the years, the company has refreshed the MacBook Air. Both the 11” and 13” models have been updated with Haswell CPUs, 128GB SSD, 802.11ac WiFi, improved battery life (up to 9 and 12 hours respectively), 4th-generation Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs, and Intel HD 5000 graphics. Although there was an update on its GPUs, Apple have stayed mum on whether the displays have been improved to a higher resolution. The models are available as of today for roughly the same pricing as its predecessors.
Although this technically falls under the iOS 7 heading, Siri has become a feature on its own. The update sees the inclusion of a male voice, along with additional languages and sound wave on the voice-control feature. Siri also includes integration with Twitter, Wikipedia and MS search engine, Bing. The software has also been updated to integrate with your car’s infotainment system to help drivers with directions, in-car calling, etc. Unfortunately, for those upgrading to iOS 7, the new Siri will only be available in early 2014.
Although iWork has been available for some time, Apple has included the feature as part of the iCloud package. iWork includes Keynote, Numbers and Pages, and web apps. The feature will be supported by Chrome, IE and Safari, although only available as a beta to registered developers.
iTunes Radio is Apple’s latest music offering, which is built into iOS 7’s music app. The app will allow access to radio-based content, derived from Apple’s own stations (grouped by artists and genre). The stations are customisable, which gives the you and ability to vote on songs to keep a list of music you prefer. The app will be available on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and via your desktop.