Analysis

Live: Apple WWDC 2013 keynote


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wwdc13-about-mainIt’s Monday 10 June 2013, it’s the first day of Apple’s annual WWDC conference for iOS and Mac developers, and that must mean it’s time for the company’s latest keynote presentation.

We’re expecting a big reveal for the next-generation iOS 7 software for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices, but also (finally!) the unveiling of Apple’s personal radio service. The media has been dubbing it ‘iRadio’, but today we should find out if that’s its real name.

Will there be surprises? Thrills and spills? The danger of liver failure if you try to play a drinking game that involves a swig every time an Apple exec says “amazing” or “incredible”?

We’re liveblogging the event – mainly to have an accurate record for later analysis, because if you’re online now, you can watch the same livestream we are. But if you’re on the bus, checking in late or simply browsing later to check the key figures and product details, we have you covered.

Stand by for all the announcements, special guests and not-so-subtle sideswipes at Google’s Android platform as they happen.

6.02pm BST: Tinkly piano music and an intro video: ‘focus…feel…love…connection… there are a thousand no’s for every yes… we simplify, we perfect…’ Before CEO Tim Cook strides onto the San Francisco stage. The webcast is a bit wobbly, I’ll warn you now.

6.05pm: Stats. Apple has more than 6m registered developers, with more than 1.5m signed up in the last year alone. Apple’s 407 retail stores around the world attract 1m visitors a day.

6.10pm: More stats. Five years after the launch of Apple’s iOS App Store (“nothing like the App Store existed before,” says Cook, cocking a snook at all those pre-2008 operator portals). The App Store is now past 50bn downloads – a milestone it passed last month – with 900k apps in the store, and 93% of those are downloaded every month. 375k native iPad apps are in the store. “That still compares to just a few hundred from those other guys…”

6.11pm: Apple has 575m registered App Store accounts. “We have more accounts with credit cards than any store on the Internet that we’re aware of,” says Cook. “We have now paid developers $10bn… We paid out $5bn of that just in the last year. That’s three times more than all other platforms combined.” He shows an uncredited pie chart suggesting that iOS accounts or 74% of app download revenues, versus 20% for Android and 6% for other platforms.

6.15pm: A brand new startup named Anki is invited on-stage: CEO Boris Sofman tells the crowd about how it’s using iOS device to “bring robotics and artificial intelligence technologies out of the labs and into people’s lives”. He unrolls a mat with a racing track design, and three little Scalextric-sized cars self-driving their way around it. All this is controlled by an iOS app.

6.17pm: “We are using iOS devices not just as remote controls, but as the brains behind real-world, immersive experience…” And the first three cars are ordered (via the app) to block the fourth, which they do. And then it blasts them off the track with a pretend gun. “This is a video-game in the real world,” says Sofman. Very fun, but a quirky start.

MAC / OS X

6.19pm: Over to the Mac, with an install base of 72m – double what it was five years ago. 28m copies of Apple’s Mountain Lion update for OS X have been shipped so far: “35% of our users are using the latest version,” says Cook, taking a swipe at Microsoft’s Windows 8 – “It’s struggling to get to 5!” (i.e. percent).

6.21pm: A joke! The next version of the OS X software will be OS X Sea Lion. Except it won’t: a logo has been mocked up to prank the WWDC crowd. Instead, the next version will be called OS X Mavericks, switching tack from the big-cat names that have characterised previous updates.

6.23pm: Key new stuff: squeezing more battery life out of Mac computers, some new apps, and… Tagging. When people save files, they can tag it (e.g. ‘sports’, ‘home’, ‘finance’, ‘travel’) to make them easier to find. It also supports multiple displays – an enormous “WOOO!” from the developer audience.

6.26pm: We’ll spare you the nitty-gritty details here, suffice to say if you’re a Mac user, you’ll probably upgrade to OS X Mavericks, and if you’re not, you’ll remain blissfully uninterested in its charms. The tags look useful for artists and music professionals, mind, and the officially not-rubbish-any-more multiple window support will go down a treat in recording studios.

6.34pm: New features for Apple’s Safari browser to make it more responsive, memory and energy-efficient. And shared links – a sidebar showing all the links people you follow on Twitter are posting. This will be the death of productivity. Or at least the latest nail in the coffin.

6.42pm: Smarter notifications (but more of them); Facebook events appearing in the OS X Calendar app and a purdy colour-coded design; a desktop Apple Maps app; and also a Mac version of Apple’s iBooks Store and reader, which now has 1.8m e-books available across iOS and Mac. There’s a glaring lack of pretend wooden bookshelves in the app, which points clearly to the expected lack of ‘skeuomorphism’ in Apple’s software from now on, under its design boss Jony Ive.

6.52pm: OS X Mavericks will be available in the Autumn to regular punters, but an early version is out for developers today.

6.54pm: Apple’s Phil Schiller takes the stage to talk MacBooks, hailing the MacBook Air as “the ultimate everyday notebook” before showing off a new line of the laptops. The key feature: “all-day battery life”. Nine hours on the 11-inch model, and 12 hours on the 13-inch model. Sold. They start shipping today.

6.57pm: Also a new Mac Pro – stand by, musicians – “We didn’t just wanna make another version of the same old desktop,” says Schiller. “What could be possible for the future of the pro desktop? What would be a new form factor, new design, new capabilities for another 10 years?” It’s… [cue Muse and a portentous video reveal]

7.00pm: It’s a black cylinder. “Can’t innovate any more my ass!” says Schiller, playing to the crowd. “This is a machine unlike anything we’ve ever made both inside and out.” It’s packed with processing power. AND A BLACK CYLINDER! Yes.

iCloud and iOS

7.05pm: Tim Cook is back on, saying Apple’s iCloud now has 300m registered accounts. “It took Facebook five years to reach this many accounts,” he says. And 300m people are using its iTunes in the Cloud feature, while Apple’s Game Center has 240m users. Segueing into a demo of how iCloud will be integrated into Apple’s iWork apps for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations. iWork will now run in browsers as well as native apps, in short.

7.15pm: Cook again. “We have now sold over 600m iOS devices.” And he goes on the attack against Android straight away, suggesting that iOS has a 60% share of mobile web usage compared to Android’s 24%, and that iPad has 82% of tablet web usage compared to 18% for all other platforms.

7.18pm: “Just like iOS customers buy more of your incredible apps, they evidently spend a lot more of everything else,” he says, citing more research into mobile shopping traffic on ‘Black Friday’ in 2012. And he cites lots of customer satisfaction stats showing iOS ahead of its smartphone rivals.

7.20pm: 93% of iOS users are using iOS 6, and 6% on iOS 5. Cook shows a separate pie-chart for Android, hammering away at the “pretty bleak story” of fragmentation on Android, and the amount of people using older versions of the OS. “More than a third of Android users are using an operating system that was released in 2010!.. If you do the math, you would find that iOS 6 is the world’s most popular operating system, and in second place is a version of Android that was released in 2010.” Oof.

7.21pm: And so to iOS 7. Finally! “The biggest change to iOS since the introduction of iPhone,” says Cook, cueing up a video demo with Jony Ive talking about “true simplicity… so much more than the absence of clutter… it’s about bringing order to complexity.” The key point: iOS 7’s design is “coherent” and applied across the entire software (and more colourful).

7.25pm: Cook again, who stresses the collaboration between Apple’s design and engineering teams before inviting SVP of software engineering Craig Federighi back to the stage to introduce iOS 7. In short: “Gorgeous… Your friends never looked more attractive. And Game Center! We just completely ran out of green felt. And wood as well: this has got to be good for the environment!” The world’s first skeuomorphism-skewering standup routine.

7.29pm: The design does look very good indeed. The weather app gets woo’d by the audience. Some nifty new use of swiping gestures to move backwards and forwards within apps. Slinky typography.

7.32pm: 10 new features for iOS 7, starting with Control Center. “Those switches that you just want to get to quickly from wherever you are? Swipe quickly up from the bottom of the device, and there they are.” Including the music player.

7.33pm: Second: Multitasking. All apps will be able to multitask, with “great battery life”. Apps will also update in the background, and uses push notifications as a trigger to make apps work in the background.

7.36pm: Third, the Safari browser. A new look a pop-down “smart search field” from the top of the screen, and a new interface for tabs. Parental controls too. We’re getting to music soon, we promise. Well, we hope.

7.40pm: Fourth: AirDrop. “Absolutely the easiest way to share with the people who are right around you,” says Federighi. It works with “share sheets” to ping files to friends – photos are the first example – from device to device using peer-to-peer Wi-Fi. This could be interesting for music apps.

7.42pm: The Camera. Live photo filters, Instagram-style, in the default iOS 7 camera app. And there’s a new Photos app which aims to make sense of the “endless unorganised stream” of the iOS Camera Roll. Photos will be organised into “moments” based on when and where photos were taken. Each group of photos is sorted under its location and date. Good for people shooting photos and videos at festivals and gigs, for example. Apple’s Photo Streams feature is now properly shared: multiple people can contribute to the same stream.

7.47pm: Next up: Eddy Cue! This could be iRadio, but remember, he also handles other internet services for Apple. He starts with voice recognition feature Siri. New voices, for starters, but Siri is “also getting a lot smarter”, able to play your last voicemail, turn on Bluetooth, increase the screen brightness and so on. It now plays nice with Twitter, Wikipedia and the Bing search engine, to bring back more useful results for your voice queries.

7.49pm: iOS in the Car. “What if you could get iOS on the screen that is built into your car?” asks Cue, showing off a demo that does exactly that. He shows a slide of a bunch of carmaker logos who’ll be introducing the feature in 2014.

7.50pm: The App Store. “It’s way easier to find apps than ever before.” You can now find apps based on age category – “parents are going to love this” – as well as sorting them by “Popular Near Me” to find apps that are popular in the user’s current location. And apps will be updated automatically by the App Store, rather than expecting people to do it manually.

iTunes Radio

7.51pm: Music! The built-in music player is “the best music player we’ve ever done” with more artwork and a new look to fit in with the overall iOS 7 design. Turn the device sideways, and a grid of album artwork is displayed.

7.52pm: iTunes Radio. Not iRadio after all. “An amazing new way to discover music,” says Cue, kicking into a demo. “I feel like ‘Summer Songs’, so you just tap…” He taps, and a Maroon 5 song starts playing. Stations can be starred for easy access and shared with friends. A prominent price button is shown at the top-right of the Now Playing screen too – the iTunes Store integration that we’ve been expecting.

7.54pm: Cue shows how you can start a station by artist: Led Zeppelin radio, with features to say “Play More Like This” or “Never Play This Song”, with iTunes Radio keeping a record of your entire listening history, with iTunes buy links. It’s built into iOS 7, working on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, and built into Apple TV for the living room, and iTunes on the Mac and PC. It’s free and ad-supported, and iTunes Match subscribers will get it ad-free.

7.56pm: “We’re starting in the US, and we’ll be adding other countries over time,” says Cue. More licensing negotiations in store, then…

8.00pm: And we’re back to Cook for a final incredible hurrah. iTunes Radio is “the absolute best way to discover new music,” he says. And he closes with a reminder: “Our goal at Apple is to make amazing products that our customers love. Really great products that enrich people’s lives.” And he shows one last video ad before bidding his audience farewell.

Stuart Dredge

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