After months of grinding away in the rumor mill, Apple CEO Tim Cook took a little more time building up to the iOS 7 unveil. He was pleased to announce 600 million iOS devices sold.
“But it’s not what drives us,” Cook said, putting the focus on mobile web share and time spent with devices, both categories lead by Apple. He also was sure to mention the fragmentation of Android as a hindrance to developers and end-users before a short video featuring designer Jony Ive teased Cupertino’s redesigned mobile operating system.
This latest iteration of iOS 7 looks familiar but has been refreshed with all redesigned icons and the use of translucent menus and notifications bars, among other features. Apple software engineering vice president Craig Federighi showed off other new looks to the lock screen and parallax motion of the wallpaper behind the apps. Gone are the wood and green felt and in is clean and simple design, as shown by the weather app—that by the way looks remarkably like Yahoo’s new weather app. Other welcome new tweaks include multiple pages inside of folders and a today view added to the notifications center, which is now directly available from the lock screen.
The first new feature Federighi talked about was Control Center that opens with a swipe from the bottom and offers a tidy menu of common function toggles. He also announced that multitasking has expanded to all apps and now features intelligent scheduling for updating different apps at different times as well as a full-screen double-tap menu for cycling through open apps.
Safari for iOS is cleaned up, too, with a unified search field, gesture control and a new look for tabs. As rumored, AirDrop has shown up on iOS 7 allowing for sharing over Wi-Fi.
The camera has rolled a square camera in with the old standbys and added some filters but the big change came to Photos. The camera roll now divides images up into moments that provides a more organized interface and has added shared photo streams.
For some insight on service integration, vice president of Internet services Eddie Cue showed up. He started with Siri, showing off its fixed-up voice that now comes in male or female as well as its increased functionality in-system and on the web. Siri factors heavily into another new feature, iOS in the Car, which enables eyes- and hands-free use beamed onto an in-dash display.
The App Store got a slight refresh, as well. The new version does away with the red number circle from the icon by just automatically updating all apps.
One of the newest apps that score those automatic updates is the expected iTunes Radio. It’s built into the native music app and allows a strikingly similar functionality to Pandora. It comes on all iOS 7 and OS X devices as well as PCs and Apple TV and comes ad-free for iTunes Match members.
iOS 7 is being released to developers today and will arrive for customers beginning this fall. But before the grand introduction for iOS 7, Cook and company devoted some minutes to the other advances Apple wanted to show off.
WWDC is first and foremost a developer conference and Cook took time earlier in the show to point out that Apple now welcomes more than 6 million registered developers, adding 1.5 million in last year alone. To raucous applause, he added that Apple has paid out $10 billion to developers, with $5 billion being paid out in the last year.
Following Cook’s boast of an average annual growth rate of 15 percent for Macs, Federighi introduced the new OS X. After admitting Apple is running out of cat names and jokingly mentioning Sea Lion, Federighi unveiled a new California-themed name release with OS X Mavericks.
New features include multi-functional tabs for Finder, tagging for documents and modifications to the multiple display mode as well as updates and optimizations for Safari. Now Maps on OS X can beam directly to iOS devices for anyone who didn’t switch back to Google Maps and iBooks was gone in the opposite direction, moving onto the desktop.
Though WWDC was light on hardware, Apple pulled back the curtain on a few devices that will run the new OS X Mavericks. Apple’s vice president of marketing Phil Schiller introduced a new line of MacBook Air with “all-day” battery life that promise to add five hours each to the 11- and 13-inch versions. But he worked up the crowd with a sneak peak of Mac Pro, a cylinder-shaped tower to which Schiller remarked, “Can’t innovate anymore my ass.” The new Mac Pro features a unified thermal core surrounded by a powerful computer that supports 4K and is dwarfed in size by previous Mac Pro iterations. Schiller said the new Mac Pro is due later this year.
Those announcements and the iOS 7 reveal made for an eye-popping show but it will be some time before we get an idea if all the new color will reanimate Apple’s mobile OS. Apple’s stock is down less than one percent following today’s WWDC keynote.