WWDC 2013 pt. 2: Dynamite Boogaloo
Well, Apple seem to have found their form again. That was the most jam-packed, robust, entertaining and important WWDC I have seen certainly since the death of Steve Jobs. No comedy at the beginning this time, out of the gate it was all serious:
Lets do a quick point-by-point shall we?
- Intro: I love the video above. Tim Cook did the usual run through, then it was straight to business.
- Mac OS X Mavericks: I LOVE Craig Federighi more every time I see him on stage. He absolutely nailed it, coming off as enthusiastic, knowledgable and geeky but with great comedy timing. He was relaxed, he enjoyed himself and poked A LOT of fun at the old design of the software that by the looks of it now was foisted on him by the old design of the iOS apps. OS X Mavericks, (they ran out of decent big cat names and couldn’t bring themselves to use Ocelot) seems geared to wringing every last erg of battery power out of the system while improving performance and tying in even more deeply with iCloud and the iOS devices. All in all, awesome.
- MacBook Air: only the Airs got announced, as expected making full use of the low-power variant of Intel’s Haswell chipset, which brings a massive improvement in battery life; Apple is claiming 9-12 hours depending on model. Very welcome.
- Wireless Base Stations: OK. I almost forgot Apple made those. Good to see an upgrade.
- Mac Pro: Holy Jesus. They weren’t screwing around with this thing. As rumoured they are depending on Intel Xeon E5 server-class processors which don’t ship until the end of the year hence this was only a “sneak peek” but my GOD what a machine. its super-high-tech, ridiculously powerful and expandable and looks like nothing else on earth. As Phil Schiller said: “can’t innovate any more, my ass!”
- iWork for iCloud: not entirely sure why a web-based version of iWork is in the offing when they also said a brand-new version of the suite for mac and iOS is in the offing, but I imagine all will be revealed in time. Until then, it looks cool.
- iOS 7: Wow. Just wow. They have literally torn up the iOS interface rulebook with this one. Gone are loud textures and glossiness. In is translucency and simplicity and a much more structured and almost formal method of interface. Interesting improvements to multitasking but nothing was announced which directly addresses the gripes I mentioned in my original post: actionable notifications, changeable default apps and inter-app communication. However they did not have a lot of time to talk about API-level stuff. It’s entirely possible that some improvements will be detailed through the week as sessions on iOS 7 technologies are presented to developers. I have to say though, I’m not impressed with is the new stock icons. They look too simplistic, too undefined. They don’t look very much like solid objects to be interacted with. Some of them look unfinished. Game Center sticks out like a sore thumb as the only thing in the entire system that has a 3D glossy effect. Perhaps I’ll feel differently when I have them on my own iPhone. Also of note is that fact that although it will run on iPad mini and iPad 2, Helvetica Neue Light seems to be the new system font which will look like absolute arse on anything that doesn’t have a retina screen…
- Designed by Apple: the beginning of a new ad campaign for Apple centred around why they do what they do. Very reminiscent of the “technology is not enough” iPad ad, which I absolutely loved, and keys in theory well with the recent Music and Photos ads for iPhone:
Taken together it was a very confident, relaxed Apple that showed itself on stage, and that bodes very well for the future. The Mac Pro oozes technical excellence and the software team have shown that they, too, can still innovate. Lots to be impressed at this year, and while there are some things missing that I would very much like to have seen, they was more than enough to feel a burgeoning sense that Apple has definitely still got what it takes.