iOS7: Apple gives its iPhone, iPad software a makeover
At his annual developer conference in San Francisco, Apple has shown off iOS7, the pending free upgrade to the software that runs its iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
iOS7 - due around Spring - features a radical new look, and several new features.
It's the company's first big software upgrade of its post-Steve Jobs era, with design head Jony Ives heading the project, and it received a mixed reaction from the social media mob.
There are a number of technical advances, including better multi-taksing (jumping between apps without closing one down), and Windows Phone-style live updates in the background.
But it's the new look and feel where Ives has made his mark.
Strikingly, the designer has abandoned the 3D effects and "skeuomorphic" elements of iOS6, such as the Calendar with faux-leather stitching, and the iBooks faux-wood bookshelf.
Instead, Ives offers flat or as some have called them "childlike" icons, and a lot of translucent effects. A lack of consistency in icons between apps points to a work in progress.
iOS7 also includes Instagram-style photos filters in its upgraded Photos app; a detailed Notification Centre on the Lock Screen; the ability to nest hundreds of apps in folders; fullscreen browsing in Safari; a new close-proximity file-sharing app called AirDrop, and a promised "ability for businesses to more efficiently deploy and manage iPhones and iPads."
Wellington iOS developer Layton Duncan - in San Francisco for the event - was not averse to the move away from skeuomorphism. He liked the new Calendar, and several elements, but tweeted that the "overall feeling is one of a little knee jerk over correction." His Twitterstream records some harsh reactions from various attendees, and some from Mr Duncan himself - although overall he was withholding his final verdict until he had seen the new iOS in person (NBR hopes to have a more detailed report from Mr Duncan later today*).
Influential commentator John Gruber was one today's more positive voices. He wrote, "The design of iOS 7 is based on rules. There’s an intricate system at work, a Z-axis of layers organized in a logical way. There is a profound reduction in the use of faux-3D visual effects and textures, but iOS 7 is anything but flat. It is three dimensional not just visually but logically. It uses translucency not to show off, but to provide you with a sense of place."
Apple also used the event to launch a refresh of its ultralight MacBook Air range, centred on Intel's new power-efficient "Haswell" processors. The company says its new 11-inch MacBook Air (priced from $NZ1499) can last up to nine hours and the new 13-inch Air (from $NZ1589) up to 12 hours.
The 11-inch model gets double the solid state storage (with a 256GB option, starting at $1749), while the 13-inch model gets a price drop over its predecessor.
Both models get 802.11ac, the latest, fastest thing in wi-fi.
The chassis remains the same across both models.
iTunes Radio. Click to zoom.
Apple also announced iTunes Radio, a Pandora-like service that streams music from Apple's entire iTunes catalogue. iTunes radio features a number of pre-set stations, and can also be set to offer a selection of songs based on your download and listening preferences.
iTunes Radio is ad-supported and free for users of any iTunes-compatible device.
Those with a $US24.99 iTunes Match subscription will be able to listen ad-free.
iTunes Radio will be released in the US around Spring. An Apple Australia-New Zealand spokesperson told NBR ONLINE there was not local release date set.
No-one puts Mac in corner: Inside the new Pro (The Verge).
Cylindrical Mac Pro
The event also saw Apple preview the next generation of its Mac Pro desktop, featuring a cylindrical case.
Why a cylinder? Appl esays the new Pro "architected around an ingenious unified thermal core that allows the desktop to efficiently share its entire thermal capacity across all the processors. The result is a pro desktop with breakthrough performance packed into a design that is one-eighth the volume of the current Mac Pro."
The new Pro is due some time later this year. Checkout Apple's preview site here.
iBooks and Maps in OS X Mavericks. Click to zoom.
OS X Mavericks
The 10th version of Apple's Mac OS software also got a preview.
OSX Mavericks adds iBooks and Apple Maps; better support for multiple displays; the ability to tag files stored both in the cloud and on your local machine; plus the ability to combine multiple Finder windows into a single window with tabs along the top. Checkout MacWorld's illustrated roundup here.
* Sadly the time difference and a series of flaming rum cocktails put paid to the same-day plan, but Mr Duncan's report did arrive the next day. Read it here.