WWDC 2013: Some Thoughts
Today, Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference kicked off with a keynote address in which they showed off some really cool things that were both expected and unexpected at the same time.
I am not going to recap the news from today. If you are looking for that I suggest that you just watch the video of today’s announcements. Instead, I am going to give some thoughts about some of the changes coming to OS X and iOS that I am excited about.
OS X Mavericks
Transitioning away from the big cats, the latest version of OS X has an interesting new name. Some people like it, some people don’t. I don’t really care what it is called.
With this new version of OS X comes two new apps: iBooks and Maps. I think it was an obvious decision to include these apps. They make perfect sense on the desktop. Reading with iBooks will be great on Retina displays, and the studying features looks awesome for students. Maps at first seemed useless until Apple pointed out that you can plan trips on the Mac and send them to your iPhone for turn-by-turn directions. Neat.
Finder is also getting some new features. Tabs looks like a great way to manage files across your Mac. You can also add tags to files now, which some people will love. It looks as though Apple implemented that feature in a smart way as well.
The coolest feature of Mavericks is interactive notification. You can respond and act on notifications from Messages, Mail, or FaceTime from the notification banner. I expected Apple to also add this to iOS, but they did not demo it today. Perhaps it is coming though.
Overall, I think this new version of OS X is just a natural progression that adds some smart new features. It also brings the Mac and iOS devices closer together with features like notification sync and iCloud Keychain sync.
The iOS segment of today’s announcements was undoubtedly the most anticipated. And boy did Apple deliver. iOS brings a complete visual overhaul that is as flat as the rumors suggested.
I personally like the design changes coming to iOS. It is flatter, but it is also, and more importantly, simpler. Apple is pouching the angle that the UI should not distract from the content. That is something I believe in heavily, and iOS 7 delivers on that premise.
The new interface in iOS 7 is opinionated software. Some people will love it and some people will hate it. It definitely does not beat around the bush when it comes to its new UI standard elements.
Some people have expressed distaste over the icons for Apple’s stock apps. I have to admit, some of them lack polish that I have come to expect from Apple. For instance, the settings icon looks very amateurish. Not all of them are bad, however. They are all fun and playful.
As far as new features go, iOS 7 is packed to the brim. The most intriguing are Control Center and the new multitasking app previews.
Control Center is called by swiping up, and features quick access to setting toggles, music controls, and frequent apps. You cannot, unfortunately, customize which app shortcuts show up here. That would be a nice addition, but at least Apple is giving users something they have wanted for years.
The new multitasking tray no longer just shows the icons of frequent app, but previews of their windows. This is very similar to WebOS’s cards interface.
The feature I am most excited about is apps being able to update in the background. This will add a lot of functionality to apps that could really take advantage of this feature. Apple has also implemented it in a way that saves battery life.
Notification Center gains some new views, the most interesting being the “today” view. This looks great for getting a scope of your day with lots of additional data.
There are so many more awesome features in iOS 7. A lot of them are updates to apps like Safari and Photos (Multiple people can now add photos to a shared photo stream. Finally!). Apple has done a great job adding new features to their apps, and to Siri.
I cannot wait to get my hands on iOS 7. The new features are totally worth any hangups you have with the design. Be sure to check out all of the new features here.
Apple at its Finest
Watching today’s keynote, I couldn’t help but think that it was one of the best product announcements from Apple in recent memory. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that Apple has increased their secrecy. Not knowing what was coming today was nice.
iOS 7 is a big change in direction for Apple. But as always, it feels as though they are changing things not to be different or to meet customer demands, but to further advance what iOS has been working towards for years—the best way to interact with your content on the go. iOS 7 surely feels like an update focused not on Apple’s over the top design, but on a design meant to highlight the purpose of the device itself.