This week Apple’s in the limelight as it shows off its latest soft wares at the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). The iPhone maker, some might remember, also dabbles in software, and has already hinted at what it’ll be showing off.
With Apple’s hardware design guru, Jony Ive, at the helm of software products we expect a huge revamp of Apple’s mobile operating system, the next version of which will be iOS 7. Many have expressed concern that the interface for iOS has remained fundamentally the same since the original iPhone, only having other features tacked on. Meanwhile, Android, BlackBerry OS, and Windows Phone have undergone drastic changes. It’s been rumoured that Ive’s influence on software interface design will see the new iOS featuring flatter graphics, with fewer skeuomorphic elements. So we’re at least going to see a visual overhaul of the operating system, if not a more functional one, and after last year’s Maps debacle, many will be watching closely to see if Apple repeats history or learns from it. Functionality that would be nice, as The Verge pointed out, is closer integration with some Mac-only features, such as AirDrop. We’d also like a more customisable notification centre, and apps that can place their own graphical widgets in the pull down menu, a la Weather.app.
Last year Apple committed to giving Mac OS X, its desktop operating system, yearly refreshes. With iOS and OS X sharing some features, it only makes sense that they should grow together and introduce new technologies at the same time. Sadly, there’s still some disparity between the two – and Apple now has time to correct that. Word’s been mum on OS X 10.9, though. Usually there’s some chatter about which big cat it’ll be named after, but even that talk has been absent in the run-up to WWDC. Let’s not forget, though, that Jony Ive isn’t just the iOS design person – he’s in charge of human interface design across the company. Apple will show off a new version of OS X, and we’d be surprised if it, too, hasn’t been stripped of its gaudy, skinny apps in favour of a more two-dimensional interface that has less fluff. Also, expect the inexorable march of iOS features showing up on desktop to continue, here.
Over the last few days there have been some interesting developments for iTunes – more specifically, for the rumoured iRadio streaming music service. On the weekend it was reported that Apple signed Sony, the third big label it needed to launch the service, and arrival of that news in time for WWDC seems like more than a coincidence. Apple was no doubt pushing for it; announcing the service at WWDC would be crucial in the wake of streaming services being announced by all of its competitors.
There are other rumours flying around about budget iPhones, for developing markets, along with news relating to updated and refreshed Macbooks. Some people are expecting a Macbook Air with new processors, and even Retina displays, but it would be wise to remember that WWDC is Apple’s software event. With iPhone announcements usually taking place in September, that means there are three whole months for Apple to announce other products between now and then.
Those lucky enough to have an Apple TV will be able to watch the WWDC keynote live, tonight at 19h00. We will also be covering events live, both here and on the htxt Twitter stream. Alternatively, the keynote will be streamed live on Apple’s website, right here.