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Apple reveals iOS 7… Bring it on Android

Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled a completely redesigned iOS 7 operating system for the iPhone and iPad at his company’s annual software developer conference on Monday, including a long-rumored iTunes Radio music service.

“It is the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the iPhone,” Cook said to a standing ovation from a crowd of Apple fans and developers.

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New Look

iOS 7 is a radical departure from every generation of iOS that came before. Designer Jony Ive’s influence is clear. All of the 3-D elements and natural textures that have given iOS its signature look over the years are gone. That means no wooden bookshelf in iBooks, no felt tabletop in Game Center, no leather-bound calendar and so on.

The new operating system has a much more modern look thanks to cleaner lines, more use of white space, modern fonts, and a different color palette. There’s no denying that it is a big departure, but Apple was sure to keep many of the platform’s elements the same, such as the home screen layout and icon shape.

Sliding Gestures

Apple added a new sliding gesture to a number of apps, including Safari, Messages and Email that make it easier to move between messages, in-boxes or open tabs. The gesture is activated by swiping to the right or left when viewing messages.

Further, Apple added a new control screen that is accessible via swiping up from the bottom of the screen. This control screen provides quick and easy access to the wireless radios, brightness settings, a flashlight and music controls. (Users of Google’s Android platform will likely find it familiar.)

Lock Screen Notifications

The lock screen has a new look and feel to match the rest of the operating system. More important than the appearance, however, is the new support for notifications. iOS 7 allows users to see more notifications directly on the lock screen as well as to take action on those notifications. Further, notifications will sync across devices, so if you mark something on an iPad or Mac computer, it will be marked read on the iPhone as well.

Multitasking

Apple has made significant improvements to the way multitasking functions within iOS. Chiefly, multitasking is now supported by all apps available to the operating system. Previously, only select apps could function in the background while users were off doing other things. In addition to expanded support, iOS 7 is smarter about multitasking. It uses a new set of parameters to define when it should and shouldn’t update calls in the background, all of which are meant to help maximize battery life while also making sure users have the most up-to-date information.

Car Integration

Apple showed off new integration between the iPhone and in-care infotainment systems. Beginning with 2014 model-year vehicles, iOS 7 will be able to fully connect with cars. Apple demonstrated how it would look to use iOS through a car’s screen to make phone calls, play music or navigate via maps. At least a dozen car makers pledged support for the feature, including Chevy, Jaguar, Mercedes, Tesla, Ferrari and others.

Siri

Siri will be able to do a lot more than before, thanks to new integration with Microsoft’s Bing search engine and Wikipedia. Siri is better at understanding natural language requests, and can interact with more applications on the iPhone or iPad. For example, users can request that Siri play back voicemails or read SMS messages. Siri also gets a new voice, both male and female, with support for both in French and German.

Safari

Apple’s mobile browser sees a wide number of changes, many of which reflect changes being made in Apple’s OS X Mavericks desktop operating system. The browser is much faster at rendering Java, and has a new look that lets people see more of the content on Web pages. It supports better keychain access for storing passwords and credit card information across devices, as well as better parental controls for managing content. Last, it has a new user interface for interacting with multiple tabs. It supports more than eight open tabs at a time, and lets users reorder and close tabs with the flick of a finger.

Music and iTunes Radio

Apple updated not only the iTunes store, but the general appearance of the music player with iOS 7. It has a cleaner, simpler look, but still offers plenty of features. Perhaps the biggest new feature is support for iTunes Radio, a new streaming service that will allow iOS device owners to create and listen to radio stations based on artists, songs and so on. iTunes Radio is ad free to subscribers of iTunes Match, but shows ads for those who don’t. Apple has created hundreds of its own radio stations, but also lets users share their own.

iOS 7 will be made available to registered iOS developers later Monday. The full operating system won’t be available to consumers until the fall, probably closer to when Apple launches the next version of the iPhone. Apple typically offers a new iOS beta every few weeks leading up to the final release.


Apple officially gives Google Maps the boot, launches own Maps app with turn-by-turn navigation

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It’s been one the big questions hanging over WWDC — will Apple actually toss Google to the side and launch it’s own mapping service specifically for iOS? Well, it’s not a question any more, but a cold hard fact. Apple’s mapping solution is here, taking over where Google left off. The move is hardly shocking since Apple has already confirmed that it’s been working on a traffic database and snatched up a number of mapping companies. Besides, it’s not like Cupertino and Mountain View are the best of buds right now. Maps includes all of the features you’ve come to expect from the previous iOS solution, but with a number of enhancements. This all new mapping solution includes 100 million different business listings, Yelp integration and, biggest of all, turn-by-turn navigation. The app does use anonymously collected data to populate traffic information and any rerouting is brought to your attention with a pop-up notification.

The story isn’t done yet, though. The maps are even rendered in full 3D, not unlike what Google announced last week. (And the news was delivered in a way that made it clear Apple think’s they’ve one upped their former map app provider.) The whole demo — flipping through business listings, flying around in 3D and navigating labyrinth-like city streets — was performed on one of those shiny new iPads… you know, the ones that are getting Siri support soon. Which, if you haven’t figured out yet, plays quite nicely with the new Maps app as we saw in the demo. Ask Siri to find a gas station on your route or how much longer you’ll be on the road and the pleasantly robotic voice gets you the relevant info.


The web’s watchful eye fixes on Apple’s cloud gear

When Steve Jobs flashed inside images of Apple’s new cloud data center during his WWDC keynote on Monday, he ignited a mini firestorm of speculation about just what kind of hardware is filling its immense surface area. No one outside of Apple and its hardware partners know for sure what it houses, but it appears as if HP and Teradata were among the big winners in Apple’s big cloud build-out. Here’s what the experts had to say:

Its full of HP servers. Storage analyst Stephen Foskett and ZDNet Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan both noted as much, even going into some detail on models and specifications. Both suggest Apple bought a large number of HPs commodity ProLiant DL 300 series boxes. This shouldnt surprise anyone. I spoke with HP Vice President of Industry Standard Servers and Software recently, and he explained to me just how prevalent HP gear is among the worlds largest web sites, search engines and social media sites. He also highlighted HPs major partnership role in helping Facebook design its cutting-edge data center and servers. Certainly, HP has the cloudscale chops to be part of Apples cloud foray.

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