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Right On Cue

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With impeccable timing, right on cue, my power went just as I set up some five devices to track Apple’s WWDC (Wordwide Developer’s Forum) event held in San Francisco. I couldn’t believe it. Or maybe I could. Something like that just has to happen in the peak of the Delhi summer, just when you really want to watch something instead of sleeping. Well, I resorted to the live blogs and promise not to make fun of them of live blogging live events again. In retrospect, I was glad I wasn’t watching the livestream, as I had promised not to do after the last event a year ago. I was keen on not getting caught up in the excitement of the moment, the inevitable applause for features we already have on other platforms, and the interminable stream of superlatives Tim Cook, Phil Schiller, and others from Apple are fond of peppering the keynote with. Everything is the best they ever made – which it would be, after all – and everything is incredible and awesome and better than everyone else. I’d like to decide that for myself, frankly.

The keynote, as I could see from some bits and pieces, was in typical Apple style. We are bombarded with statistics – most of them quite impressive. The personal styles of each the presenters was familiar and expected. And, I think, so was the content. Much of what was shown at the event took up where leaks and rumours left off. Apple did refresh its OS X, calling it Mavericks and tweaking it significantly without really overhauling anything. They gave the popular MacBook Airs quite a boost, most importantly adding the Intel Haswell processor to give these lightweight laptops all-day battery life. They also launched a new Mac Pro, something many were keen on.

But perhaps most interesting of all were the changes to iOS, taking it to version 7, and giving it a totally new design. In fact, many elderly users will have to relearn their way around their iDevices.

See: iOS 7 Presentation Video From WWDC

iOS7 was understandably the most anticipated segment of the keybote, seeing as how it’s the mobile space of smartphones and tablets that’s growing the fastest. As predicted, iOS7 does indeed seem to have a flatter look, shunning a bit of the textured 3D and moving towards the style seen on Windows 8 – though it’s a different look. There was a surprising amount of barbs against Apple’s own previous design and the much talked of ‘skeuomorphism’ or tendency to look like real old world objects such as a leather diary, for example. I found that more than a little strange, considering that too was Apple’s own decision and design. And it worked, at least until recently. More importantly, every native app has been redesigned. It isn’t just the overall look, with new icons and a control center, but also inside the major apps such as Safari.

Here are some of the major changes:
  • Overall look is flatter and more colorful, with changed icons
  • Native apps have a new cleaner and softer look. Use of translucency is rampant, making things look rather pretty.
  • A new Control Center appears when you swipe up from the bottom, letting you access settings.
  • Multitasking, much needed, finally comes to iOS through swiping gestures and letting you take up where you left off rather than getting in and out of apps completely.
  • Siri has new voices and can finally control settings. Incidentally, Android can do that via additional apps
  • Automatic updates for apps, with priority given to most frequently used apps.
  • Photos receive attention, of course, with the camera getting an Instagram-ready square shooting frame and photos auto organizing into groups
  • iOS for the car is here with iPhone control built in so you can control our device
As expected, Apple launched a music streaming service which will work from within the Music app, letting you search for more music based on what you like and of course buying whatever you decide to keep. It remains to be seen whether the radio feature will come to India straight away or not as there are often music licensing issues to deal with.

While these features are great additions for an iDevice user, there are no dramatic changes to have come out of the WWDC event announcements. For anyone wondering whether this will be a turnaround for Apple, bringing it back to its former position of a few months ago, I think it’s a wait for the next iPhone and iPad to be launched, perhaps in September or October of this year.


Craig Federighi, Apple Senior Vice President, Software Engineering, introduces OS X Mavericks operating system
   (Pictures Courtesy Reuters)
mala(at)pobox(dot)com, (at)malabhargava on Twitter