Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) has become Christmas morning for many Apple fans over the years, but the luster normally associated with the event has dwindled in recent years. Today was a chance for Apple to prove to the tech community that they still had it. So did they pull it off? Sort of.
If it were up to me, I’d put Jony Ive in charge of just about everything over at Apple. After being the hardware design head largely responsible for the industrial design direction of nearly every signature Apple product, Ive took his first crack at iOS 7, and quite frankly, hit it out of the park. iOS 7 is beautiful in every way, finally getting rid of the Fisher Price aesthetics present on the iPhone since its inception. But beauty can only take you so far in a smartphone world where iOS still appears to be falling behind. Apple announced app multitasking that looks exactly like Android Jelly Bean’s, as well as Control Center, which is oddly similar to Android’s notifications quick settings.
OS X, for me as a MacBook Pro owner, felt more overdue for an overhaul than iOS, but only saw modifications to finder, multiple displays, Safari, Keychain, and iWorks. The final result was a slightly disappointing 10.9 Mavericks update announcement. With the new OS, Apple also announced its new Mac Pro line, which looks like something from Prometheus (that’s a compliment), and will help solidify the Mac Pro’s place within creative shops for years to come. Apple did also announce newer versions of the MacBook Air starting at $999 and shipping today – but without a Retina Display it was another let down.
So what’s the verdict? Well, if you own an iPhone you should be really excited – iOS 7 is beautiful, the only problem is you’ll still have to wait to get it – probably mid-September. For Mac users, installing Mavericks might depend on how old your Mac is. I wasn’t exactly happy with Lion and above running on my now three-year-old MacBook Pro – so I’d wait and see. But pending performance issues, Mavericks is a nice update. iTunes Radio offers a nice Pandora competitor, but was hardly the same announcement Google delivered at I/O regarding their Google Play Music All Access service.
So regarding Apple’s WWDC announcements overall, the company should be uneasy about their mobile position. Google stalled the announcement of Android 4.3 – perhaps strategically at Google I/O – to announce it in the coming weeks. If iOS 7 is just catching up to a year-old OS (Jelly Bean 4.1 – 4.2), what will happen when 4.3 drops? Also, rumored to be down the pike is a reboot to the popular Nexus 7 line, Google Glass in the fall, and the Motorola X phone. Apple’s safety net is their position within the desktop/laptop consumer space – but within the mobile space it may be dying.