Apple addresses iOS deficiencies
iOS 7 is easily the biggest news from Apple's appearance at WWDC because it represents a massive overhaul of the look and feel of the operating system, which has remained largely unchanged visually since the original version.
The new version is almost unrecognizable, which will make it polarizing. Some people will love that their phone feels new and different, while others will be disoriented by the newness. Finding your settings app is hard when the icon has totally changed, and the many people who easily get disoriented by their gadgets may well have a negative experience.
On the other hand, this is a clear statement from Apple that it acknowledges the need to refresh the user interface and is willing to do something pretty dramatic. Many of the new features Apple added to iOS 7 are fixes to problems rather than dramatic or clever new ideas – notifications, Siri, and multitasking enhancements, and the introduction of Control Center, all deal with deficiencies rather than providing surprising new features no-one would have thought of.
The fact that iOS 7 isn't coming until the fall is a disappointment from a user perspective, but the delay is necessary to give developers time to rework their apps to take advantage of the new operating system and fit in visually.
The Mavericks desktop OS is a good upgrade, which continues with the iOS-ification of the Mac OS. The addition of Maps and iBooks and iOS integration for notifications, maps and other features are signs that Apple sees iOS as the future paradigm for all its operating systems, and it is driving a slow convergence towards that reality.
The new MacBook Airs are further evidence that for all that competitors copy the look of Apple's computers, Apple itself is still ahead in terms of performance. The battery life improvements put it way ahead of other players in this space, and even when competitors start to adopt Intel's Haswell hardware, they will struggle to match the overall performance.
The new Mac Pro feels like another sign that Apple is abandoning its hardcore creative users in favor of mainstream users. Even though the new Mac Pro looks very different and stylish, the smaller size means that additional hard drives and other hardware will have to sit outside the enclosure. This feels like a poor trade-off considering that most of these computers sit under, rather than on, desks in video editing and advertising firms around the world.
iTunes Radio as a Pandora clone is a lot less disruptive than a Spotify clone would have been. This is a nice free feature that lots of people will probably try out, but existing Pandora users won't have much reason to switch, especially as the service is still ad-supported unless you have an iTunes Match subscription. What would be really disruptive is a service that allowed you to call up specific songs on demand as you can with Spotify, but that would likely have disrupted Apple's existing iTunes business, and the music industry as a whole, too much.
Jan Dawson is chief telecoms analyst at Ovum. For more information, visit www.ovum.com