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Ottawa, Ontario

Just a little corner of the interwebz where I occasionally jot down a thought or two. Why do I do it? Partly to communicate in some way with you, the reader, and partly because it's some sad way of leaving a legacy of some kind I guess.



Jonathan Tom

Following along with the Apple WWDC this afternoon was a lot of fun. There were some announcements that were expected, some that were not and some were certainly more interesting than others but for those who weren't about to watch or read along here's a run down of the keynote.

The first major announcement was involving the new OS X 10.9 which, for the first time, will stray (pun intended) from the cat moniker. As CEO, Tim Cook said they "didn't want to be the first software delayed due to a dwindling supply of cats". With that said the new OS will go by Mavericks, a name taken from a location in their own backyard known for surfing. I think they should have gone with OS X 10.9 Grumpy Cat, but maybe that's just me.

Mavericks will sport a few new features: 

  • Finder tabs: rather than having multiple finder windows open and remembering where each of them is hiding, we'll now be able to consolidate all of them into one working window.
  • Tags: not a new concept at all but new to the OX ecosystem, you'll now be able to tag your files as an added way of sorting them. Sounds a little like labels but that remains to be seen. 
  • Better multiple display support: this has been needed for quite sometime so I, for one, am happy that it's finally coming into a release. The menu bar and the dock now appear on all displays; spaces can now pan each display independently and an HDTV connected by airplay can serve as another monitor. As blogger, Ryan Block, posted during this section of the keynote "Good lord, calm down, nerds". 
  • New safari: this is supposedly now x1.44 faster than Google Chrome. It's also supposed to use "way less memory" than other broswers which is exciting because, at the moment, Chrome is using  a little over a Gb of RAM.
  • Calendar: there's finally been a release of calendar in which "no virtual cows" where harmed to make. Skeuomorphism be gone! 
  • Maps on OS X: something I think might be interesting is that maps is coming to OS X with 10.9. Now, I certainly don't haul my laptop around in the car but a route can now be created on your desktop/laptop and pushed to your mobile device for your trip. That's kind of neat for the trip planner in me. 
  • iBooks on OS X: I don't know a whole lot of people that do a significant amount of reading (of the book variety) on their desktops/laptops.  However, I can see this expanding into the educational market with text books and enhanced annotation tools. 

Additionally, there were some announcements about performance which were nice to hear; they involved such things as app-nap which will function much like iOS where the application get's put to sleep when not active. Apple claims that it can reduce CPU usage (and thereby increase battery life) by %72. I'd be interested in seeing the real world numbers on this when they're available. Apple also announced new hardware at WWDC:

  • MacBook Air: this lineup got a refresh and the first major selling point from VP Phil Schiller was "all day battery life". The 11" model takes it's battery life from 5 hours to 9 and the 13" model is going from 7 hours to 12 thanks to Intel's new Haswell processors which were announced a few days ago. These new Airs will start at US$999 and US$1099 respectively.
  • New Airport Base Station: this new model includes a new vertical form factor which foreshadows the next hardware announcement (oooh, spoiler!) and, I have to admit, I'm not completely sold on the look though there are technical reasons for it to look like that. 
  • Sneak peek: Phil offered a sneak peek at the new Mac Pro as well that Tim Cook promised was to be released this year.  It's a radical changed from the previous model - it's essentially a cylinder. As expected it's specs are, on paper, very impressive but I'll be interested in seeing some real world testing once's it's out in the wild.

I will admit that, while it wasn't necessarily expected, I was a little disappointed to note that there was no new hardware for the MacBook Pro line. I figure that I will be in the market to replace this early-2011 model in another six months or so. There's always the fall announcements I suppose.

Lastly, we saw what was arguably the biggest change in any Apple product at WWDC; iOS 7. With Scott Forestall out and Sir Jony Ive now in charge of the UI it was expected that we would see a "flat" design and we weren't let down. From what we saw of iOS 7, the interface and experience are very flat with little of the faux-3D design that was present in previous versions. There seems to be quite a bit more translucency in this iteration of the OS and, for all you font nerds, the typography has been re-imagined as well.

Starting from the unlock screen where you now swipe up to unlock, the whole experience has changed. In my opinion, it feels a little like a MS OS. Interesting. From the photos I saw, it looks as though they are leaning towards a better look with the white iDevices; there is a significant amount of white screen and background in their apps.

Of note is that you can now swipe up from within any application, or the home screen, to reveal something of a dashboard where you have access to the usual media controls but also quick access to wifi, bluetooth, airplane mode, brightness, airdrop, airplay and a few other neat features that people have been jailbreaking their devices to get for quite some time. 

The weather app looks like it's taken a nod from some of the more popular weather apps available on the app store. When looking at the weather at the north pole ti was said to be snowing and there was an animated background of snow falling which garnered oohs and awws from the crowd. Unsure why that was impressive but apparently, it was.

Also gone is that pesky badge on the App Store icon, that unsightly blemish that drives us OCD users crazy. It's gone because iOS 7 will now be updating your apps automatically; you no longer have to jump into the app store to click that update all button. 

It looks as though the Photo app will be attempting to sort your photos smartly based on timestamp and location. As Ryan Block mentioned "can't wait to see some of the locations erroneously associated with users' photo sets".  Undoubtedly there will be some growing pains but I think that all-in-all, like maps, they'll be addressed promptly.

"Ok, let's talk about Siri", are words that many have been waiting to hear and Eddy Cue didn't let us down. She (or he now apparently) now has added localization for more languages and some added commands. For example, you can now say "play my last voicemail", "turn off bluetooth" or "increase screen brightness". Twitter, wikipedia and bing (yes, bing) are also now integrated into Siri searches. 

Siri is also moving forward with automobile integration with several partners including, Honda, Mercedes, Nissan, Chevrolet, Kia, Infinity, Hyundai, Volvo, Acura, Jaguar and Ferrari starting next year. What, no Tesla?

Finally, the reveal that virtually everyone knew about in advance iRadio. As Wil Wheaton (@wilw) pointed out when he was trying to troll the Apple fanboys it's very similar to its competitors such as pandora. The service will be free, with ads and, if you're an iTunes Match subscriber, free without ads. It starts in the US and other countries "over time". What does this mean for us in Canada? Probably the same as it's meant for Spotify and other such companies who've had to deal with the CRTC; don't hold your breath. 

iOS 7 will be available for iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later and the iPad mini starting shortly for developers and this fall for the rest of us. This is really just a rundown of the highlights as I see them; there are multiple articles online about the keynote and several records from live blogs that you can reference for the full story.