WWDC 2013: Apple intros OS X Mavericks, iOS 7, new MacBook Airs & next-gen Mac Pro

This week Apple held its latest World Wide Developers Conference from San Francisco, introducing to the world the next versions of OS X and iOS, as well as upgrading its MacBook Air lineup and previewing the next generation Mac Pro. For the full rundown, jump after the break.

OS X Mavericks

This next version of the Mac operating system is the 10th major release of OS X. Apple is changing the themed names from cats to California locations. “We do not want to be the first software in history to be delayed due to a dwindling supply of cats,” joked Craig Federighi. “We want a set of names that can carry us for at least the next 10 years. The answer was really obvious to us. It’s those places that inspire us here in California, the place where OS X is designed and built. For our first California themed release…OS X Mavericks.” It’s a destination known for its big waves and extreme surfing.

Mavericks contains more than 200 new features and it’s focused on extending battery life and providing overall system responsiveness and energy efficiency. Apple demoed a handful of new features included inside the OS. Finder now supports tabs; if you have multiple Finder windows open you can merge them together into one window and move across them by clicking their respective tabs. To create a new tab, click the + icon. It works very much like the Safari browser and its tabbed experience. In addition, you can move files from one location to another by dragging, hovering, and dropping them across tabs. Finder can also go full-screen.

When you save a document, in addition to providing its location and name, you can tag it and when you do it’ll appear in the Finder Sidebar for quick and easy access. You can assign more than one tag to a document, and you can also assign tags simply by dragging a file into an open Finder window that’s viewing a tag category. Tags help keep files more organized and searchable.

Working across multiple display has gotten better; you can access the menu bar across multiple displays, you can summon the dock, and when you take an app full-screen on one display it doesn’t interfere with the content on your other display. Also, you can pan between Spaces independently on each of your displays, and if you have an AirPlay connected HDTV it too can act as a fully powered separate display with access to the menu bar and dock.

Safari features a new, clean homepage with access to a sidebar that includes your bookmarks, reading list, and shared links (these are links shared by your Facebook and Twitter friends). With iCloud Keychain, you can have your Mac remember your website logins, credit card numbers, Wi-Fi networks, and account information; all of this will be stored securely in the cloud and accessible across your OS X and iOS devices.

When a Notification pops up, you can respond to it instantly without having to open up an app; for example, you can respond to a friend’s incoming message inside the notification without going inside iMessage. Additionally, you can now see an overview of new Notifications from the lock screen. And no more app update notifications; they will be automatically downloaded in the background and you’ll be notified when this happens.

What else? Calendar has been updated with a new, clean design sans stitching. A Maps app is included featuring 3D Flyover data, info cards, turn-by-turn directions, and you can send routes to your mobile iOS devices directly from it. Also, iBooks is coming to Mac for the first time with access to your library and the iBooks Store and it supports iBooks Textbooks. To improve system responsiveness, a technology called App Nap reduces the power consumed by apps that you’re not using. For example, say you’re exploring an intensive, graphically enhanced website that’s eating up a lot of processing power and then you decide to open iTunes to play a song. Even though your browser is still open, Mavericks will notice it’s idle since you’re in iTunes and it will automatically reduce the power consumption coming from the browser until you bring it into focus again. This kind of under-the-hood prowess will help battery life and make your Mac work more efficiently.

The developer preview of OS X Mavericks is available today, with a final, general release coming this fall.

iOS 7

iOS 7 is “the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of iPhone,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. It features a completely redesigned user interface touting subtle motion (devices will respond to the motion in your hand so you can actually peer behind apps on your home screen), an elegant color palette and distinct, functional layers with transparency, edge-to-edge design, and refined typography. You won’t find green felt in GameCenter or wood in iBooks; everything has been rebuilt for a more cohesive experience.

Apple’s Jony Ive explains the vision behind iOS: “There is a profound and enduring beauty in simplicity, in clarity, in efficiency. True simplicity is derived from so much more than just the absence of clutter and ornamentation—it’s about bringing order to complexity. iOS 7 is a clear representation of these goals. It has a whole new structure that is coherent and applied across the entire system.”

Apple demoed a few new features packed inside iOS 7. Swipe up from the bottom of the device to bring up Control Center: now you have quick access to some settings (airplane mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, orientation lock, brightness), media controls, AirDrop, AirPlay, and access to a flashlight, compass, calculator, and camera.

Multitasking has been improved to enable any app to multitask in the background. Double tab the home button to move across your open apps in a new intuitive way; above the app icons your screen will display live quick-look cards for you to tap into or flick away.

Safari features a new full-screen design with a smart search field at the top and a new birds-eye quick-look cards view for going through your open tabs (you are no longer limited to 8 open tabs at once). Parental controls are included, as is support for iCloud Keychain.

AirDrop is being ported from OS X to iOS. It’s an easy way to share things with friends that are around you. Open AirDrop and it will show you who’s nearby and with a few taps you can easily share things like contact information and pictures over a securely encrypted peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connection. AirDrop is system-wide for any app that supports a Share Sheet and it works with iPhone 5, 4th-gen iPad, iPad mini, and 5th-gen iPod touch. Say goodbye to Bump?

The newly redesigned Camera app features a new square camera option and you can easily swipe between various modes like video, photo, and panorama. You also have access to live photo filters.

The Photos app now intelligently organizes your pictures based on where and when you take them; Apple calls these smart sections Moments. No more scrolling through an endless list of images without clarity.

Siri has a new voice; it sounds more human than robotic. You can also now choose between female and male voices. New languages include French and German with more on the way. Siri’s new interface now includes support for Twitter, Wikipedia, and searches powered by Bing. Apple’s iOS in the Car initiative plans to bring Siri-assisted control to access your Phone, Maps, Music, and Messages app on your car’s navigation/infotainment display.

The App Store allows you to search for apps based on age range, and you can find popular apps based on your location. Also, apps will now be automatically downloaded in the background!

In addition to updating the look of the Music app to match iOS 7’s overall clean and minimalist aesthetic, Apple is adding their very own Internet radio service. A potential Pandora killer, iTunes Radio features over 200 stations and a catalog of music from the iTunes Store. It includes featured stations curated by Apple, and of course you can create your own stations based around artists, songs, and genres. You can star a song to tell the app “play more like this”, you can “x” a song telling the app “never play this song”, and you can add songs to your Wish List. Like a song you’re listening to and want to own it? You can purchase and download songs from the iTunes Store right inside the app. iTunes Radio is built into iOS 7, it’s coming to iTunes on your Mac and PC, as well as Apple TV. It’s free with ads, ad-free if you subscribe to iTunes Match, and it launches in the U.S. first with additional country support coming later.

What else? Notification Center can be accessed from the lock screen with a pull down, and they can be viewed in sections labeled Today, All, and Missed. Folders now support multiple pages. A new feature called Activation Lock aims to deter thieves like this: if a thief tries to turn off Find My iPhone, or if they wipe the device entirely, they will not be able to reactivate it because they won’t know your iCloud username and password.

iOS 7 is available in beta for iPhone for developers today; there are over 1500 new APIs for devs to play with. A final, general public release is coming this fall. iOS 7 will support iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, iPad mini, and the 5th-gen iPod touch.

iWork for iCloud

Briefly, Apple introduced iWork for iCloud. Login to your iCloud account on a browser on a Mac or PC to create and edit Keynote, Pages, and Numbers documents inside the browser. Documents will be updated across your OS X and iOS devices. A public beta is coming later this year.

MacBook Air

Apple’s thin-and-light notebooks have been updated with “all-day battery life” and faster processors, graphics, and Wi-Fi speeds. The new MBAs are packed with power-efficient fourth generation Intel Core i5 and Core i7 Haswell processors; they are designed for power savings and energy efficiency. A new Intel chip serves up to 40 percent faster graphics and provides smarter low-power states. Now check out this stellar battery life: the 11-incher increases from 5 hours to 9 hours, and the 13-incher jumps from 7 hours to a whopping 12 hours. You can get up to 10 hours of iTunes movie playback, for example, with that kind of battery life. You can expect 30 days of standby time. Flash storage is up to 45 percent faster, and the notebooks contain faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi. The 11-inch Air starts at $999 (with 128GB flash storage) and the 13-inch Air starts at $1099 with the same amount of storage. The new models ship today; size ’em up at Apple’s online store.

In the midst of introducing the new Airs, Apple acknowledged updates to the AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule base stations. They’ve been updated to feature three-stream 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology with a maximum data rate of 1.3Gbps, that’s almost 3x faster than 802.11n. The new AirPort Extreme ($199) and AirPort Time Capsules (2TB for $299 / 3TB for $399) ship today.

Mac Pro

Out of character, Apple gave WWDC attendees a sneak peek at an upcoming product. At long last, Apple is updating the Mac Pro in what they are calling “the future of the pro desktop.” The new Mac Pro features a unique cylindrical design that’s built around a unified thermal core. It’s 9.9 inches tall and 1/8 the volume of the current-gen Pro. Inside you’ll find next-gen Intel Xeon E5 processors with up to 12 core configurations with 256-bit wide floating point performance (that’s 2x the CPU performance than the current Pro); two AMD FirePro workstation-class GPUs with 4,096 stream processors, 384-bit memory buses, and 528 GBps total bandwidth, which promise to deliver up to 7 teraflops of compute power (that’s 2.5x faster than before); PCI Express gen 3; fast PCIe-based flash storage with 1.25GBps reads and 1.0 GBps writes speeds (that’s 2.5x faster than any flash storage Apple’s ever built); super fast four-channel ECC DDR3 memory running at 1866 MHz to deliver up to 60GBps of memory bandwidth; support for Thunderbolt 2 (20Gbps throughput (that’s 2x faster than Thunderbolt 1), 6 devices per port, and backwards compatibility with Thunderbolt 1); and support for 4K displays with three simultaneous displays supported on every port. I/O connections include audio in/out, 4 USB 3 ports, 6 Thunderbolt 2 ports, 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports, and 1 HDMI 1.4 port. As you rotate the Mac Pro to reach the ports, the I/O panel illuminates for easier access. 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 are built-in, as well. The new Mac Pro, designed and assembled in the USA, ships later this year. Preview the sleek new hardware at Apple’s official portal.

[Images via Apple]

A look at iOS 7.

The inspiring video that opened the WWDC 2013 keynote.

Apple’s latest ad titled “Our Signature.”

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