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.
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.
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.