Apple WWDC: “Can’t innovate anymore, my arse!”

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We have learned a lot from Apple at their WWDC opening Keynote this time round – they have definitely been working hard and possibly may have taken back a little lost ground. Apple had in some cases taken the safe ground and opted for a less adventurous and appeasing route, but it still got crowds standing on their feet. Apple would try to appeal to both camps in their WWDC conference, but like normal, for some it would not be enough. Yet Phil Schiller, Senior vice President of Worldwide Marketing, told the assembly that he felt that Apple could continue to innovate – and the rumours were otherwise ‘crap’:

“Can’t innovate anymore, my arse!”

Apple showcased their entire brand of products at WWDC and confronted daemons that many thought had got the better of Cupertino. Apple demoed several products such as a redesigned Mac Pro, new Macbook Air lineups and of course iOS 7…. The show started with the usual from CEO Tim Cook – Apple ensure we couldn’t forget how much Apple has come on in recent years, they announced that over 72 million users now rely on Mac and that $10 billion had been paid out in developer hand outs. Thats a lot of developers and a lot of apps.

Lets not forget Mac and Mac OS X

Apple showed us that it hadn’t forgot the Mac in a flurry of tablets and touchscreen enthusiasms. Apple had neglected its Macbook Air lineup in recent events and had not boosted its range to the worthy ‘Retina’ display, possibly a good thing. Well if you had waited for the likely Retina display – wait longer. Yes, Apple either forgot or deliberately excluded the high resolution display from their newest notebook. Apple most likely withheld the technology in effort to conserve battery and the basic hardware required for the display is non existent on the laptop. Instead Apple treats us to new Intel processors, Hasswell of course, and also introduced the new Intel HD 5000 graphics – the Air is no video editor, but Apple claims it can handle serious photo editing. We hope so for the price. Apple managed to shove a new 802.11ac wireless card into the laptop and now still receives a full 12 hours of battery. In contary with other later launches Apple did not grace the Macbook Air with the Thunderbolt 2 port but gave us USB 3. How nice.

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The Macbook Air wasn’t really the highlight of the show for the Mac, want people wanted was a little more professional. Mac Pro maybe? Well Apple had guessed similarly, a new Mac Pro made an appearance following over a years wait. The complete redesign took many off their feet, if they weren’t already, the Mac Pro stood as Apple’s highest targeted model of Mac – aimed at professionals it seemed to have been forgotten since Apple decided to work more with consumer tablets and phones. But today it got a new shiny look, a circular new design – it looks more like a smarties tube than a computer – but it is definitely different. Apple has gone all out on the Mac Pro – new dual GPUs, up to 60GB DDR3 RAM, Thunderbolt 2, new PCIE flash storage. WOW. Well these numbers and figures mean a lot, so does the price tag, but Apple has tried to regain their position in the market with a strong hold on the pro industry. We expect the Mac Pro to sell like magic. In fact it is quite strange – the design isn’t common of Ive’s creation and resembles that of the older versions such as the iMac G4, hmmm interesting. Upon releasing Mac Pro Phil Schiller took a bash at those haters who felt Apple had lost its mojo, we’ll find out soon. Mac Pro will be available later this year, still unconfirmed.

Lets talk Mac OS X – Apple liked to play games with us, they tried to pull the wool over our eyes, Mac OS X Sea Lion – no. Mac OS X Maverick – yes. I still have no idea what a Maverick is, if you’d tuned in for the live stream you may have found myself and Shivering Yeti spending a good 10 minutes trying to find the answer without luck. But to follow suit with the latest lineup of computers Apple also decided to give OS X a tinker. Mac OS Maverick could of been used as a crystal ball for the upcoming iOS UI – the logo of Maverick seemed to reflect Apple’s new design ethos. Maverick isn’t a complete UI overhaul but still is welcomed. To cover the major changes Apple unveiled Apple Maps for Mac, YAY I hear you cry – well don’t worry, Apple has improved the mapping experience since its launch. It won’t force you to use it – but it is merely a simple and quirky little addition that Apple added and now makes Mac OS X feel a lot more like iOS. As well as Maps, Apple added iBooks to the fun – now you can read, sync and store book ands bookmarks across all devices – we knew this was a long time coming. But harnessing the bigger real estate of Mac means that users can have multiple books open, don’t know how useful it is or when you’d ever read two books at the same time, but still I am not moaning.

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Maverick will also allow you to automatically generate passwords via Safari and Keychain, a new AES 256-bit encryption protects your passwords but means you don’t have to keep making new ones. Handy, but how long until somebody bypasses the security. The rest of the features fall into place along with the new UI ethos. Calendar and Contacts now feature the simplistic design and UI colour scheme that iOS has followed with. Maverick has a new look and better implementation of mobile features, the OS is a step to becoming a more mobile and wider integrated ecosystem that will work more seamlessly with iOS and other devices. For Apple a tightly knitted ecosystem is key, it only allows its software on its own hardware – people want an ecosystem that is connected nt fragmented and this is a step closer to that idea.

iOS…Where to start

iospress15Well if Apple thought that iOS needed a refresh they definitely had a go at it. Trust me – it needed a refresh. But if you had imagined widgets flying around the screen, new customisation features and a lot of added ‘wow’ – then this iOS might not be for you. But don’t worry, it is a start. Tim Cook took the wraps off Apple’s new iOS 7 towards the end of the presentation – unlike Job’s famous “One last thing…” Cook just decided to let it all spill out. Cook told us it was the biggest change to the OS since iPhone’s launch – you can definitely say that again. A audible gasp from developers at the new lock screen and you could tell that Apple may have taken the hint, slightly. Jony Ive has headed up design, discussing the ethos in a traditional Apple style video, he explained the aim was to make iOS “cleaner” and “simplistic”. Those haters of skeuomorphic design, faux leather and paper bindings can finally rejoice. Where many thought iOS 7 would be a gradual phase out of skeuomorphism they were wrong. All faux leather and fake dodgy contact books have all gone. iOS now features a more sleek, flattened and rather stark colour scheme that will likely become the next hated part of the OS. This follows on from the slight adjustments made in Mac OS X, Jony Ive is certainly making his presence felt.

A complete redesign now means everything is more simplistic, where a physical slider sat on the lock screen is now just a swipe anywhere – a nice feature. The noticeable addition, or lack of addition, is the physical menus, buttons and UI that was custom on iOS – mail loses its blue header, they keyboard is now translucent and the whole OS feels that little bit more – whiter. This can only be a good thing. Game Center got a complete overhaul, and for me is the only hate of iOS 7 – it reflects a childlike/balloon birthday party and the colours are rather harsh on the eyes, but thats a personal opinion. Throughout the OS the UI is consistent, Craig Federighi jokingly said during the Game Center demo:

“We just completely ran out of green felt and wood – this has got to be good for the environment.”

As well as amending the OS interface there were other additions such as Control Centre, an Android like notifications bar that can be dragged up from the bottom of the screen. It allows you to control brightness, basic system settings and alter music playback. If you hadn’t been a fan of the crippled multitasking in iOS then you’ll like the change. Double tapping now brings up a full screen view and thumbnail of open apps and sliding up closes them, hmm familiar. Our old girl Siri got a tinker, she now has a new remastered voice and can retrieve tweets and web results inside of the Siri UI.

stations

iTunes Radio wasn’t expected in the Keynote, but heck they added it. I was joking – it wasn’t an iRadio but iTunes Radio is a start, it allows you to stream music stations that are tailored to a user’s music library. It is not a dedicated app but sits nice and snuggly inside the Music app in iOS . It is free and is Apples way of letting users “discover new music”. The launch comes a month after the Google Play All Access music came out. A large portion of users use iTunes but Apple hope that iTunes Radio can bring new life to their ecosystem.

Apple has been working hard on their WWDC launch. We haven’t been able to cover the entire launch schedule but we have given it a try. Apple had been behind on their UI ethos in comparison to Android. iOS 7 is a step in the right direction for Apple. We hope they build upon the design that is showing that it is an early idea. The colour scheme, interface and typography are all nice, but we could have seen more innovation. iTunes Radio is a clear indication that Apple wants to drag people back who had been swayed by competitors. They have alienated anybody outside of the US as iTunes Radio won’t be available instantly everywhere. But it’s a start. That is the message of this WWDC, it is a start – Apple had a lot of work to do and now it has begun the journey of reimagining their brand. It could take time. Apple will need to build upon WWDC, it will need to capture the imagination of developers and consumers and ensure that they show us they can still innovate. I suppose that is the story of Apple, the ups and downs. Phil Schiller definitely believes that Apple can still innovate – the whole of Apple was trying to prove this at WWDC. With the launch of newly designed Macs and a new iOS, Apple wanted the world to know, that innovation isn’t dead in Cupertino…

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