If there was any question whether Apple could innovate without their iconic leader, WWDC ’13 surely put the naysayers to rest.
WWDC sold out in 71 seconds, reinforcing the fanatical support of Apple’s developers. WWDC covered a wide range of topics, including a new retail store, new Macs, and more (see their kick-off Keynote), but from our perspective the most interesting news was centered around iOS 7.
Apple has chosen to redesign iOS 7 completely, with a minimalist style. As Apple says on their site: “Simplicity is actually quite complicated.” Distinct functional layers—the Notifications Center and the newly added Control Panel—slide from the top and bottom respectively, giving users quick access to key utilities, including Airplane Mode, Wireless, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, AirDrop, AirPlay, and more. Further, each layer has a degree of translucency, creating context across a unified environment. As a consequence changing your wallpaper changes the feel of the entire user experience. Beautiful.
Panoramic wallpapers and parallax are two more great design features in iOS 7 that add depth and visual context. Check out the video below:
The multitasking interface got a face lift too: now, after a double-click of the home button, running apps appear in a horizontal list with their respective icons and screen previews, so you can see what’s going on before quitting the app, which can be accomplished simply by swiping up:
The new icons are completely redone although some critics have expressed so much distaste that Apple have begun revising a number of the least favorite icons already. Here’s iOS 6 and iOS 7 side-by-side:
A second major announcement from the kick-off Keynote is AirDrop, which enables quick and easy file sharing between users in close proximity using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. We’ve been looking forward to this addition for a while now, partly so we can stop using email, and mostly because we think NFC is the future of mobile payments. With Apple’s AirDrop, there’s no NFC involved, but it certainly feels like that’s not far off. Sources say the transfers will work in different rooms of a house or at distances of up to 100m. Unfortunately, AirDrop limits users to sharing only with other Apple products, so they will most likely adopt NFC eventually because Apple wants to dominate the experience from start to finish. And with Apple boasting more than 575 million credit cards on file, its only a matter of time until AirDrop facilitates payments and completes the vision of iWallet. You can read more about that here.
There are a number of other great, new features that haven’t received extensive coverage: audio-only FaceTime calls, but only over Wi-Fi; Activation Lock, which disables any kind of use after your phone has been remotely wiped unless you enter the Apple ID that was used to wipe it; automatically updating apps; Wi-Fi HotSpot 2.0; night mode and bookmarks syncing for Maps; camera filters and 60 fps video recording; Siri’s new voices and functions, including Bing and Wikipedia search; third-party game controllers and many more. Read about those features in detail here.
WWDC ’13 proves Apple’s commitment to innovation on the mobile front. There are now more 600 million iOS devices in circulation–iOS 6 being the most-used mobile platform globally, with the world’s largest app marketplace, boasting more than 900,000 apps and 50 billion downloads to date. If that’s not enough to inspire you, Apple has paid out more than 10 billion dollars to developers, and there’s still money to be made.
All in all, iOS 7 is not earth shattering but it’s a solid release with a large number of improvements. Apple has, once again, advanced their thinking on a number of fronts. Coupled with that gigantic user base, iOS continues to be the leading force in mobile and the premier place for innovation.