The hardware giant launches iOS 7, OS X Mavericks, new MacBook Air and Mac Pro
Apple have always done things their own way and the fact that E3 was going on yesterday didn’t deter them from holding their annual ‘love-in’ or, as it’s otherwise known, the World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC).As Sony and Microsoft were busy fighting it out for the hearts, minds and, more importantly, wallets of next generation gamers, the Apple faithful were descending on Cupertino to find out if the rumours were true. You see quite a few commentators have written the Californian giant off, saying that they’re doomed by their lack of innovation. Well based on last night’s performance, I wouldn’t write them off just yet.
First out of the gates, Apple announced the all-new iOS 7 and touted it as the biggest change to iOS since the launch of the first iPhone. The drastically redesigned iOS 7 marks a new direction for the company's mobile operating system and includes a radically overhauled interface, transparent animations and a new Control Centre. The latter feature is new and allows for quick access to settings like Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, brightness, and even a built-in flashlight. Control Centre is available from anywhere, including the lock screen. Multitasking has also been enhanced for all apps, resulting in longer battery life and iOS 7 will monitor a user's pattern of use, giving applications background cycles based on how often the user accesses them.
A new gesture allows for easier one-handed use, letting users swipe from the left side of the screen to go back. Folders have also been expanded to allow multiple pages and hold more applications. As you move an iPhone in your hand, a new parallax feature will actually move the wallpaper in the background, allowing users to "see behind" the icons on their home screen. An updated notification centre is slightly transparent, removing its previous textured appearance. Notification Centre is also available from the lock screen as well, without the need to unlock the device. All of the built-in applications have been completely redesigned with a new look, including Messages, Calendar, and even the phone application itself. The new operating system will be released in the Autumn and will be available for the iPhone 4, 4S and 5, along with the iPad 2, third and fourth generation iPads, the iPad Mini and the fifth generation iPod Touch.
Apple also introduced the iCloud keychain, which stores credit card details within the browser, and notifications have been given an overhaul to allow OS X to receive push notifications from directly from apps running on iOS devices. Additionally, Apple has introduced a Maps app with the latest version of OS X that includes turn-by-turn directions and flyover data. It also has the ability to send route data directly to the lock screens on users' iPhones. In addition, Apple has upgraded the Calendar app to integrate with Maps, allowing users to look up travel times between two locations on the calendar to prevent them from scheduling anything in that period. Another addition to Mavericks is iBooks, which provides access to the app's back catalog of 1.8 million publications. The new desktop app also allows users to zoom into and scroll through interactive books, change font sizes, and add annotations to the side. Apple confirmed that OS X 10.9 Mavericks will be available in the Autumn.
It isn’t just the operating systems that are getting a face-lift as Apple’s MacBook Air is also getting a major refresh. The new MacBook Air will include faster graphics and a longer battery life. Thanks to the use of Haswell ultra-low voltage processors, the 11-inch version will stretch the battery life from 5 to 9 hours, whilst the 13-inch goes from 7 to 12 hours. The latter number in particular could mean that the new MacBook Air might genuinely deliver all-day battery usage.
The new notebooks include 802.11ac for ultra-fast Wi-Fi connectivity and flash memory that is said to be up to 45 percent faster than its predecessors. In addition, Intel's new HD Graphics 5000 also gives theMacBook Air up to 40 percent faster performance for gaming and graphics intensive apps. If that wasn’t enough it also includes dual microphones, a FaceTime HD camera, a high-speed Thunderbolt port, two USB 3.0 ports, and support for dual displays and video mirroring while simultaneously supporting full native resolution on the built-in display. The 11- and 13-inch versions of the new MacBook Air both include 128GB of flash storage and begin shipping immediately.
Last but by no means least, Apple unveiled the new Mac Pro or, as some cruel wags have dubbed it, the iBin. Yes the redesign is fairly drastic and you have to admit that it does look a bit like a bin but there’s no arguing with what’s inside that tube. The Mac Pro packs some serious performance into its cylindrical frame, including Intel Xeon E5 processors, which are capable of supporting up to 12 core configurations to deliver two times the floating point performance. There are also a pair of AMD FirePro workstation-class GPUs, so the Mac Pro can handle up to seven teraflops of computations, and delivers speeds more than twice as fast as the current generation of Mac Pros.
If that wasn’t enough, Apple is including 1,866MHz DDR3 RAM, which will give the new Mac Pro the ability to deliver up to 60GBps of memory bandwidth. That means it can render full-resolution 4K video without breaking a sweat, so its bound to go down well in the film industry. The unusual design is the result of the hardware being built around a unified thermal core, which will give the Mac Pro the advantage of distributing that thermal capacity across all the processors evenly. There are also six Thunderbolt 2 ports, each capable of supporting six daisy-chained devices, which means you could easily connect up to 36 different external devices and there’s up to 20GBs of bandwidth for each connected device! Apple have yet to divulge the exact release date for the Mac Pro, nor have they mentioned the price but you can bet it won’t be cheap!
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