Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference has become an annual attraction, as it typically is the platform through which Apple announces its biggest and most innovative products. This year’s conference was no different. As with most years the rumors prior to the conference were rampant with most people expecting the announcement of a massively overhauled iOS 7, those who were waiting got what they hoped for.
Apple CEO Tim Cook called iOS 7 the “biggest change to iOS since the debut of the iPhone” and based on what we saw that doesn’t seem like a big stretch. The new iOS is headlined by a completely redesigned UI, featuring a new flat design, grid, 3D layers, and gestures.
Overall the new UI is undeniably gorgeous and really takes the iPhone to the next level, as aesthetically the old iOS was beginning to look stale against its Android and Windows phone competitors. Perhaps the most elegant element of the new system is its responsiveness. For example, using the phone’s accelerometer iOS 7 is able to adapt the screen in parallax, achieving as designer Jony Ive claims, “new types of depth.”
Check out the new iOS 7 in motion:
The Music app has also been redesigned with the rest of the iOS, making it much more simple while adding a new feature – iTunes Radio, which is a service that will operate similar to Pandora. While this feature seems redundant with established services like Spotify and the aforementioned Pandora, it reflects Apple’s recognition of the current way most people listen to their music.
In addition to the aesthetic changes to the UI, Apple finally added a ‘Control Center’ to the iOS. No longer will you have to jailbreak your iPhone simply to get SB Settings. Now you will be able to simply swipe up from the bottom of the device and the Control Center will appear allowing you to toggle airplane mode, control your music, access your camera, your calculator, put the phone in sleep mode, and toggle Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. This is a feature that users have been asking for for a while now, so it is nice to see that Apple finally listened. iOS 7 also makes significant improvements to multitasking – which now will work for all apps. The new multitasking improvements learn your app usage habits and update the ones you use most frequently most often, taking into account network conditions. So now when you are driving down a country road with poor reception you wont have to worry about apps draining all your battery while they hopelessly try to update themselves.
Siri also received some improvements, adding new voices (including a male one) in different languages, while also improving the assistant’s intelligence increasing the capabilities of the service. Furthermore, Siri – and iOS – can now connect to the screen in your car. For those who struggle with difficult to use, clunky car nav systems (*cough* MyFord Touch *cough*) this was a very welcome surprise.
But iOS 7 was not the only thing that Apple rolled out in today’s WWDC. Apple also announced a new OS X – dubbed OS X Mavericks – which includes a number of wonderful improvements for power users. One of these features sure to make our fellow graphic designers happy is that full screen app support will now be supported on multiple displays – meaning you could have Photoshop open in fullscreen on one computer while you have Netflix or Pandora running in fullscreen on the other. In addition to the new OS X, Apple is planning to roll out a line of completely redesigned Mac Pros.
The new design is 1/8th the size of the previous renditions, all while maintaining and surpassing the previous performance benchmarks. These are machines built for professionals – and Apple is confident in their capabilities as they are demoing the new machines at Pixar this week and it doesn’t get more taxing than that! Finally as if that all wasn’t enough, Apple announced a number of improvements to iCloud, including better Notification syncing and a full-fledged version of iWork for the browser.
As always, the WWDC gave us a lot to get excited about this fall. The developer betas for iOS 7 and OSX Mavericks launch today. For the rest of us we will have to wait until this fall to get our hands on all the shiny new toys that Apple showed us today.