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Reasons Why Many WWDC Announcements Made Us Yawn

Reasons Why Many WWDC Announcements Made Us Yawn
The annual gathering of Apple developers took place in San Francisco this week. Although there’s probably more interest in what the next iPhone and iPad are going to look like. Apple used the showcase to demonstrate lots of new products and features. Here’s a rundown of the highlights; some are pretty cool while others we were not hugely impressed by.
The Biggest Ho-Hum Was iTunes RadioApple’s Pandora killer called iTunes Radio was probably the announcement that caused Apple’s stock to drop on the opening day of WWDC. No question, we love Pandora and Spotify and use them every day, but can Apple’s version make us use their service instead? Just like Spotify and Pandora iTunes Radio uses the “freemium” model removing ads with a subscription to iTunes Match. Similar to Pandora, it also offers the ability to “teach” the service which songs you prefer to listen to. Google, by the way, also has a similar service called “All Access” which costs $9.99 a month after a 30 day free trial.
Mavericks May Not Make Huge WavesThe new OS X 10.9, codenamed “Mavericks,” as in the big-wave surfing event, is expected to be available sometime this fall. Among the features are Apple Maps for the desktop, a new version of Safari offering some cool new features like a new sidebar that makes it easier to access bookmarks and reading lists and a new “iCloud Keychain” that stores your passwords and credit card info to make it easier to use them online. Mavericks will also feature a new calendar app , Finder Tabs that allow you to merge multiple windows, a new file tagging function, a notification makeover, improved handling of multiple displays and more. All these improvements and enhancements are nice but are there any game changers here?
You Can Now Read iBooks on Your Laptop or DesktopAlthough it’s a nice thing to be able to read a book on a laptop or desktop, it doesn’t seem like the most enjoyable way to do it. We still believe an e-Reader with its great outdoor readability and month-long battery life is the best way to read an e-Book but maybe Apple knows something we don’t.
New and Improved MacBook AirsThere’s no question a MacBook Air is a beautiful piece of technology and these new versions with up to 12-hours of battery life on the 13-inch model, 40% better graphics performance, 45% faster flash storage and a faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi chip are impressive but as computer users move from desktops and laptops to tablets and wearables where are the Apple cyborg glasses or iWatch we would have preferred to see announced?
Designer Desktop Computer for Creative ProfessionalsApple desktop computers have always been the computer of choice for creative professionals like Photoshop-using designers so it’s only appropriate they get a beautiful computer to put under their desks or in this case in a prominent place on the desk. The 9.9-inch “future of the pro desktop” offers an impressive 7 teraflops of graphics performance, a 12-core Intel Xeon processor, AMD FirePro GPUs, PCIe-based flash storage and Thunderbolt 2 (20Gbps) IO which should all translate to a “wicked fast” machine. Is this the ultimate “personal workstation” for the creative professional, it could very well be. The only thing we could ask for is more expandability inside the unit or possibly the ability to chain them together to create a virtual parallel computer.
Apple Docs vs. Google Docs?
Cloud-based office products could be the mainstay productivity suite of the future and there are plenty of passionate users of Google Docs and other Microsoft Office alternatives, but it remains to be seen if users will migrate their office apps to the cloud. On the other hand, a Microsoft Office-compatible suite of apps that includes a page layout program called Pages, a spreadsheet called Numbers and Keynote, Apple’s answer to PowerPoint might be a very attractive solution.
A Major Redesign for iOS 7
Now that legendary designer Sir Jony Ive is in charge of iOS look and feel, it sounds like we’re going to see a lot of changes in the how you will interact with your iPhone or iPad. From what we’ve seen Apple has changed the typography, color palette, navigation screens, icon styles adding more translucency, animations and a new swipe-up control center. Gone are the fake wood, leather, felt and other skeuomorphisms popular in the past but now out of style. In the magazine business we used to call this a redesign where the new art director would apply his or her aesthetics to the look of the magazine. One reaction we’ve been hearing a lot is that many feel the new iOS has lots of similarities to the look and feel of features already found on Android and Windows Phones including the new Lock Screen, Notification Center, Messaging App, Multitasking and Camera App (a la Instagram). This seems somewhat duplicitous in light of how aggressively Apple has been going after other manufacturers like Samsung over look and feel patent infringements.
  Will Your Device Run iOS 7?

One of the great things about smartphones and tablets is the ability to upgrade to a new OS for free. Many fortunate Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod owners will be able to run iOS 7 on their devices when it becomes available this fall. Here’s a list of devices that will support it:

  • iPhone 4 (with some limitations), 4S, 5
  • iPad 2, third and fourth generation
  • iPad mini
  • iPod touch fifth generation
 
A Couple of “It’s About Time” Features
Apple announced some features at WWDC that we were glad to see but also wonder what took them so long. One of those features is true multitasking that includes a multitasking window which can display apps that are currently running in a preview screen where a user can return to the app or close it. One new feature that some are calling a hidden gem is FaceTime Audio which allows you to make voice calls over Wi-Fi similar to what you can already do on Skype and apps like Viber. This also means you could use your iPod Touch as a phone to make calls to other iPhone or iPod users over Wi-Fi.
Conclusion:
Phil Shiller, Apple’s Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing came out with both barrels blasting with his “Can’t innovate anymore? My ass!” comment. Unfortunately the rhetoric may not have matched the caliber of innovations in this year’s WWDC announcements. Did we see the next big thing in one of these announcements? For the next “one more thing,” we’ll probably have to wait until this fall or even next year for an iWatch or iTV or some other ground breaking product. In the meantime, what we got are a lot more reasons to remain in the Apple ecosystem and enjoy all the cool software to run on all the cool hardware. Maybe we shouldn’t so critical of Apple after all.

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