Apple Announces iOS 7 and New MacBooks at WWDC Conference

Apple announced its new iOS 7 operating system, new MacBooks and a music streaming service today at its Worldwide Developer’s Conference in San Francisco, California.

CEO Tim Cook introduced the much-rumoured new iOS 7 system, saying it represented “the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the iPhone.” iOS 7 features a flatter appearance, better multitasking and background processing, a control centre, a new look and feel for Safari and OS X’s Airdrop peer-to-peer sharing service.

The big announcements came after Cook said that Apple has paid developers $10 billion, $5 billion of which has came this year. He also said that the app store is now home to over 900,000 apps, with 375,000 geared towards the iPad.

Apple is hoping its new iPhone operating system will sit well with users. Most notably it will come with a new radio service, iTunes Radio. Rather than selling songs and albums one-by-one, Apple will provide users with a continuous feed of music chosen by the service based on what they’ve listened to and what they’ve purchased on iTunes. It will be free, but with advertisements and will also work with Apple’s iTunes software on Mac and Windows computers.

In the past, using multiple apps at once was limited. Now iOS 7 will monitor what apps users are using most often to help determine what apps need more full-functioning multitasking. Push notifications will indicate that a given app should receive increased background processing and regular content updates.

The control centre is also a new feature. According to Mashable it’s an “area that can be activated from within any app that brings control to WiFi, brightness and other frequently accessed settings. From Control Center you can access a flashlight, start a song, toggle AirPlay and more.”

iOS 7’s new Safari will apparently look and feel more similar to Chrome and now features a tabbed view and integration with iCloud Keychain for password management. The unified search menu has also returned from the dead, which was previously removed from iOS 3.0.

Also of interest to users is that icons in iOS 7 now have a three-dimensional look that tries to mimic the real-world counterparts of certain apps (the contacts app, for example, is shown as a leather-bound address book).

Meanwhile the new Mac Pro will be available later this year (and assembled in the US) and promises speedier connectivity through Thunderbolt 2 ports and improved graphics performance. It will include a new Intel Xeon processor and come standard with dual AMD workstation discrete graphics processors. It also will support 4K, ultra high definition displays out of the box, and the system is only one-eighth the volume of the earlier Mac Pro.

The new MacBook Air 11-inch will now feature nine hours of battery life instead of five while the 13-inch model offers 12 hours instead of seven. Furthermore, they include Intel’s fourth-generation Core processor, called “Haswell”, as well as a faster WiFi. It begins shipping on Monday.

Cook also announced an update to Apple’s Mac operating system to be called “Mavericks”, referencing the popular surfing area in San Francisco. The new OS X 10.9 Maverick will include a tabbed finder window (a browser-like system based in windows where users can add tabs and tag support). Developers can bundle the software’s features into their own OS X apps, thanks to a software development kit.

Mavericks will also work with multiple monitors, with docks and menus going across the various display screens. TVs connected via Apple’s AirPlay can serve as one of those displays.

Moreover, Apple’s senior vice president for software engineering Craig Federighi said that the maps app, which largely crashed and burned last year when it was launched with iOS 6, is back. Users previously reported dissatisfaction with usability and accuracy.

At last year’s conference the company announced the maps service, better integration with social networks and improvements to virtual assistant Siri. It also announced thinner MacBooks with high-resolution screens.