8 Apple Changes That Matter

Amid Apple's two operating system updates, new hardware and new services, these pieces of news from WWDC 2013 stand out.
5. iOS: Automatic App Updates
Users of iOS devices with a significant number of apps soon discover that it takes a lot of effort to keep every app up-to-date. iOS 7 will dispense with this administrative chore by automating app updates. When this feature was mentioned at the WWDC keynote presentation, the cheering was noticeably louder than for almost any other announcement.

6. OS X/iOS: iTunes Radio
Apple's answer to Pandora is iTunes Radio, a free music streaming service supported by ads. Users who pay $25 annually for Apple's iTunes Match service can listen to iTunes Radio without ads. iTunes Radio offers personalization, informed by past iTunes purchases and listening habits. And it can be controlled using Siri voice commands. The downside of iTunes Radio is that iTunes, an app many consider an unwieldy holdover from the desktop computer era, remains an integral part of Apple's strategy.

7. OS X: Maps
Apple last year dumped Google as a map data provider in an attempt to regain control over what has become a critical platform service. But Apple's iOS 6 Maps app fared poorly in the market, resulting in an executive shuffle and an apology from Apple's CEO.

Now Apple is bringing its mobile Maps technology to its desktop operating system. The company has been working feverishly to improve Maps since the app's underwhelming debut last year. By adding Maps to OS X and introducing a Maps SDK for OS X app developers, Apple is demonstrating that it isn't going to roll over and cede mapping services to Google.

Apple can't afford to give up because Google isn't taking prisoners. Google is reportedly finalizing a deal to acquire Waze, a community mobile mapping service that both Apple and Facebook were said to have been pursuing, for $1.3 billion. Map technology remains a highly contested area.

But Apple is using its home field advantage to encourage the use of its mapping services. OS X Mavericks will put Apple's maps into Calendar and other apps.

8. iOS: The New Look
Design matters. Apple relies on design as the thing that sets it apart from the competition. It made that point with two separate videos during the WWDC keynote. Design matters because it's about function as well as form: It influences how people use software and hardware. It affects how people feel about their technology. And it appears to pay off: 73% of iOS users are "very satisfied," compared to just 43% of Android users, claimed CEO Tim Cook.