Keynote 2013

It's unusual for me to be prompt about opinions on the major Apple announcements, but as I watched most of the keynote on my way home from work this evening I figure I might as well jump right in. 

OS X Mavericks

No, I don't like the name all that much either. It's named after a spot on this stretch of beach (I think), which is a popular surfing destination famous for the kind of waves used in the promotional images (presumably, those very same waves). 

photo.JPG

So OS X releases are going to be named after California landmarks. It's still better than Iced Cream Sandwich whatever way you paint it. 

OS X got the least impressive of the two OS updates, and it's hard not to feel that this is simply because the scale of revisions to iOS demanded so much attention. There are more details on the Apple Website than I'm going to run through - but I do have some thoughts on my favourites and it's not to say that the revisions aren't significant.

Maps and Calendar 

There are several software additions and updates to the 'built in' applications but Maps and Calendar stand out. I can't shake the feeling that calendar's new look was a convenient side effect of Maps integration. Calendar is going to be location sensitive, will be able to automatically account for travel times and routes - details that can also be pushed from Maps on OS X to your iPhone (and presumably iPad but that wasn't explicitly mentioned).

The route calculation in maps has generally been pretty excellent even when the landmark database has been sketchy. It will be interesting to test some of this new functionality.

(I've only ever had turn by turn issues with Maps in Wales - and anecdotally friends have similar problems with other GPS units) 

Safari

The Safari updates are the usual performance enhancements and some aesthetic redesign. The real point of interest is a side note of the new shared links feature which takes items shared by friends on social networking sites... including LinkedIn.

I suspect that later in the year we'll see LinkedIn integration akin to Facebook and Twitter probably in OS X and iOS. 

iCloud Keychain

iCloud Keychain replicates a lot of the primary functionality of 1 Password, an application that I highly  recommend.   While 1 Password is far more sophisticated and has some integration support with third party iOS apps, this is a cool new feature of Safari. It will be interesting to see how accessible stored passwords are when you need to copy and paste them into an app, rather than use them in the Safari browser. This may be an iOS API feature that wasn't made apparent. This is a feature to keep an eye on.

The keychain syncs via iCloud and should be seamlessly available across devices. I suspect this feature will drive some serious bug fixing in iCloud's Core Data service. 

Tags 

Until now documents stored locally and remotely on iCloud have, to use an awful phrase, been siloed  off from each other. You're either looking at one pool of documents or the other. Tags would appear to address this, as tagged documents are viewable via the finder, presumably, regardless of where they are stored. I don't think this goes far enough to address the iCloud document storage issues but it's a step in the right direction.

Battery Life

There are a number of battery life improvements, but I am particularly interested in Timer Coalescing. Intelligent use of processor time is a method used to improve the efficiency of the chips on a hardware level too, hopefully this will deliver some of the suggested savings. Battery savings suggested are for a MacBook Air, but 20% more battery life on my MacBook is the better part of a couple of hours additional battery life and I have a hard time running this thing flat already. 

iOS

The redesign is the headline news, and thanks to YouTube I don't have to go on about it too much.

Suffice to say, I really like it. This video (without the audience cheering) and full preview are on the Apple website. While there are a couple of elements shown that I'm not totally sold on, I love the aesthetic. The shift away from black to white backgrounds makes me quietly pleased I opted for the white iPhone 5.

So, the other changes... 

Control Center

This replaces the media and scroll lock controls currently found in the app tray, and adds in a bunch of toggles for things such as wifi - features long requested. I noticed a distinct absence of Personal Hotspot from the available toggles, which makes me a sad panda, but it seems that Siri also has gained this functionality - so I'll wait and see. I suspect that limiting discoverability is the reason that a simple toggle isn't available.

Air Drop

This is a Mac, wifi file sharing feature transposed to iOS, though in iOS it seems to be less about sharing files as such and more about sharing your context. This might be a photo or some other file but could as easily be a Maps location or a website. It's an interesting feature, but unclear if it also works with Air Drop on the Mac. 

Given how often the sofa here is adorned with iOS devices I see this getting some use. 

 iTunes Radio

Apple will stream the whole iTunes music catalog to your phone, or Mac, or Apple TV. While this bills as an iOS feature it's universal. It's very cool. Ad supported and available to everyone as standard, and iTunes Match subscribers get it ad-free. I am already a subscriber and a huge iTunes Match fan (or as I call it 'Amnesty Mode'). Apple get some ad revenue, but also a massive new method of music discovery, making Ping look quite foolish, of course it's easy to go from listening to buying, and there's a comprehensive history to help you go back through what you've recently heard.

While I could be quite cynical about this approach, I actually think it's pretty damned fair to everyone involved, and seems to be a strong offering aside Rdio and the like. I think this will get used a lot by my other half, and see some regular use by me. 

iRadio did have a better ring to it. 

All in all... 

These seem like robust and interesting updates, though OS X feels distinctly more incremental than iOS.  Whether some of the user interface redesign will rub off on OS X in a year's time is anyone's guess but the redesigned Calendar app suggests that something comparable is likely.

The Microsoft Customer

A Fortress of Solitude