At WWDC, Apple shows off its design prowess with a radical makeover for iOS 7 and a forthcoming tube-shaped desktop Mac Pro.
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Apple on Monday introduced the next iterations of its mobile and desktop operating systems, redesigned power-efficient MacBook Air notebooks, a radio streaming service called iTunes Radio in iOS 7 and an iCloud-based version of iWork for Mac and Windows before an enthusiastic crowd of several thousand developers.
Even more unusual, the company offered a preview of an unreleased product: a redesigned, cylindrical Mac Pro that will debut later this year and will be manufactured in the United States.
CEO Tim Cook opened the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco, Calif., by reviewing the company's accomplishments. He said that more than 50 billion apps have been downloaded in the past five years and that Apple has more than 900,000 apps in iTunes, with 375,000 apps for iPad. Perhaps more meaningfully, he noted that Apple has more than 575 million user accounts.
"We have more accounts with credit cards than any store on the Internet that we're aware of," said Cook.
Cook also said that Apple has paid developers more than $10 billion to date, half of that in the past year. "That's more than three times more than all other platforms combined," he said.
Craig Federighi, SVP of software engineering, arrived on stage to declare an end to Apple's cat-names for OS X. After a joke about the possibility of going from OS X Mountain Lion to OS X Sea Lion, he said Apple will now be using California-themed names, the first of which is OS X Mavericks, a nod to the well-known surfing competition held periodically in California.
OS X Mavericks delivers a number of battery life and UI improvements. These include Tabs, Tagging, and improved support for multiple displays.
The battery life changes "reduce CPU utilization up to 72%," said Federighi. The result should be a much better user experience for portable OS X devices.
Apple's Safari browser also received some attention, with support for separate processes in each tab and an improved Nitro JIT. Safari power usage has also been improved, which should help Apple's laptops last longer. "Safari uses way less energy than Chrome and when you compare to Firefox, it's just kind of sad," said Federighi.
Mavericks "makes your digital life follow you easily from device to device," said Federighi.
Philip Schiller, SVP of worldwide marketing, challenged Apple's critics directly. "Can't innovate anymore, my ass!" he declared as he provided a preview of the forthcoming Mac Pro, which offers a fresh take on Apple's line of desktop computers.
The redesign Mac Pro comes in the shape of a tube, and is one-eighth the volume of its 40-pound predecessor. It will feature dual Xeon processors, flash-based memory, two AMD FirePro graphics chips and Thunderbolt 2 ports.
Cook hammered Google's Android for its fragmentation -- while Apple's update system has more than 90% of iOS users on the latest version. Android updates roll out more slowly thanks to disinterested telecom carrier partners. "More than a third of Android users using an operating system released in 2010," he said.
And Apple aims to maintain that lead with the fall release of iOS 7, available to developers immediately.
iOS 7 "is biggest change to iOS since the introduction of iPhone," said Cook. "It's packed with amazing new features and a stunning new interface."
iOS 7 brings a fresh, colorful, flat look to Apple's iOS devices. Skeuomorphism, a design approach using simulated real-world substances like wood and felt, is dead.
Among its many new features are: Control Center, a more accessible version of Setting that's available by swiping up from the bottom of a device screen; real Multitasking; a revised mobile Safari; improved photo organization and sharing in the Photos app; AirDrop, for file sharing; iOS in the car; Siri interface improvements, voice choices and integration with Bing; automatic app updates; a remade Music app that includes iTunes Radio; FaceTime audio; Notification Sync, and an anti-theft system called Activation Lock.
A Cloud-based version of iWork, for Mac and Windows, was demonstrated and is available in beta today. Apple also launched redesigned AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule WiFi routers with 802.11ac networking.
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