WIIFY at Apple’s WWDC?
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If you thought Apple would roll out some new iGlasses, iWatch or iWhateveryoudon’thaveyetthatyoudesperatelyneed at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco this week, get ready to be disappointed. The company did not announce anything that will rock your world, unless you’ve been holding your breathe for iTunes Radio. More about that in a second, but first, if you love to gossip, gamble, or just plain gawk over who’s “winning” this week’s gadget race, here’s a cheat sheet for non-tech-types on what to know and why you should (or should not) care.
New Macs and MacBooks.
If you’re in the market for a new computer, Apple has refreshed its ultraportable MacBook Air line. The Air is available in 11-inch and 13-inch models with faster processors, more storage space, and all-day battery life — that’s 9 hours for the 11-inch model and 12 hours for the 13-inch model, according to Apple. There are a whole lot more bumps in the specs, and the 13-inch model now starts at $1,099, $100 lower than before. Both are available now.
But if you were looking for a new MacBook Pro or MacBook Pro with Retina display — that bit of Apple magic that makes the screen look nearly 3D — you’re out of luck. Despite the rumor that Apple would be releasing new versions with improved hardware, none of these systems are out yet. If you’re a MacBook user looking to upgrade, your can either pick up a MacBook Air or wait for hardware updates to — hopefully — come later this year.
Mac users will also get a software update in the form of the latest version of OS X: Mavericks. Coming this fall, Mavericks will feature new tech to improve energy savings and improve performance, which means you’ll get better battery life and a more responsive computer just by installing it. Mavericks also features improvements to Calendar, Safari, and Notifications, adds iBooks and Maps apps, and adds tabs and tags to Finder. Mavericks will be available this fall.
IOS 7 comes to iPhone and iPad this Fall.
No surprise that no new iPhone or iPad was unveiled – Apple likes to make us wait and wonder and hold separate events for those launches in the fall. Instead, we got a glimpse of the next generation of software for Apple’s mobile devices. Apple CEO Tim Cook says iOS 7 is the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the iPhone, and as far as we can tell, that’s true. In addition to a sharp new design, iOS 7 adds numerous features — and while both design and features remind us of Android, we’re glad to see them coming to iOS.
Among the new features are a “control center” that lets you easily access commonly used settings without digging into the settings menu; more info in your notifications as well as a “today” view that gives an at a glance look at the day’s events; an improved camera app with Instagram-like filters; photos that automatically arrange themselves by date and location to make it easier to find what you’re looking for; an easy way to share photo and videos with your friends called AirDrop; an even smarter Siri, with all new male and female voices; automatic app updates and easier ways to find apps by location and age group in the App Store; and changes to the Find My iPhone app that make it easier for you recover your phone and prevent someone else from using it if lost or stolen. But you’ll have to wait until fall to get your hands on iOS7.
So what’s next for the iPhone? With iOS 7 on the docket for this fall, it’s likely to coincide with a new iPhone release: if Apple follows its usual pattern, we’ll see the latest iPhone most likely in September. The rumor mill has also kept spinning about a low-cost iPhone, perhaps with a plastic casing, as a new budget-level member of the iPhone family. I wouldn’t bet the farm on this one – though it would take a bite out of Android’s lower-priced handsets.
On the iPad front, we’ve been hearing rumors of a new iPad launch as early as this now-gone spring. But iPad fans should still expect to see both the iPad and iPad mini refreshed some time this year. We expect an iPad that’s thinner, lighter, and faster than current models, but wouldn’t be surprised to find other surprises, too. The rumor mill has suggested everything from wireless charging to a vibrating mode for alerts, but as with all rumors, we’ll take them with a grain of salt until we hear them from Apple.
All aboard the iCloud.
Apple’s iCloud service — and the MobileMe service that proceeded it — hasn’t been as successful as the company would like, but that hasn’t stopped it from trying to make it work for consumers. The WWDC keynote featured several additions to iCloud that we have to admit will be awfully handy.
So what’s coming to the company’s cloud service? Safari users in iOS 7 and Mavericks will have their passwords saved and synced to iCloud, so you can easily access them from wherever you are without having to remember them (or scribble them down on post-it notes). But, more importantly, iWork is getting a cloud overhaul, making Pages, Numbers, and Keynote documents accessible and editable over the web. It’s not revolutionary — both Microsoft and Google already offer similar services — but it is handy for Apple fans who want easy access to their documents from anywhere.
Last but certainly not least: Apple’s long-rumored music streaming service is finally becoming a reality. Launching later this year, iTunes Radio will stream a variety of radio stations and learn your tastes the more you listen. The service will be available for free with advertisements or advertisement free for iTunes Match subscribers ($24.99 a year).
I’ve been reading reaction to this latest Apple news – which has been a like this year’s reaction to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January: ho-hum. What do you think? What would it take for Apple to blow you away? Be sure to weigh-in in the comments section or drop us an email.
Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy award-winning consumer tech contributor and host of USA TODAY’s digital video show TECH NOW. Email her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @JenniferJolly.