Apple Gets Prettier, Simpler… Better

Today’s keynote didn’t have people on their feet with excitement. In fact, Apple’s stock was up +1.5% prior to the keynote, steadily fell throughout, and was down -1% after. The changes Apple announced today are being under estimated.

The improvements announced today will help Apple keep its branding as a leader in simple, elegant design and functionality. I’m not a big fan of companies taking incremental baby steps forward. Leaps forward are always more fun. Sometimes though, you can need to stop and perfect the technologies you’ve got. The iPhone and iPad have us all a little too caught up on expecting new hardware. They’ve done that and they did it well. Now it’s time to redesign the last of the outdated hardware and move on to software. All of the value and services Apple provides is through its software, so its odd that a huge software release is considered, by many, inferior to a huge hardware release.

Getting Rid of the Ugly Duck

Most of Apple’s products have a small but powerful feel. They are simple and bold. The old Mac Pro tower was huge and looked archaic. It’s been around for too long and a computer that size, in this day and age, should be remotely flying a fighter jet.

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The new Mac Pro is simple and just as powerful. It has tons of ports and tons of brand new chips. It’s most important feature is that it is smaller, prettier, and a cool design.

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Mobile Operation is the Same, Except It’s Not

iOS7 brings Jonny Ive’s design talent to the mobile operating systems. Icons are prettier. Menus are prettier. Functions are more visual. Everything is wonderfully more accessible.

  • You can swipe upwards to bring up a menu of your favorite functions like flashlight, music control, brightness, airplane mode, etc.20130610-204358.jpg
  • When browsing the Internet you can now swipe to “go back.”
  • The Apple application called Keychain is now cloud based. This means it can keep track of all your usernames and passwords across all devices (Mac, iPhone, iPad).
  • The folders you keep your apps in can now hold as many apps as you drag in
  • Is your photo album a mess? The new iPhone camera roll automatically groups your pictures and even labels them. Lets say you spend the morning in the park with the fam and take some pics. Then later you get dinner with friends and take some more. When you go to your camera roll you’ll see two picture groups, one labeled as “the park” and one as “dinner at xyz.”
  • Apps now auto update in the background when the phone is’t being used, you have connection to power, and wi-fi
  • Expect faster app load times due to smart app management. Open CNN every morning around 7:30? The phone notices and pre-fetches the news. When you tap CNN, it’s ready to go
  • More stuff available from the lock screen! Now you can pull down your notifications screen without entering your password. You can also pull up your “quick control” menu for things like your flashlight and airplane mode

These are just a few of the many minor improvements made to the new iOS. Alone they are insignificant. All together though, they will add up to a user experience that’s noticeably easier and more elegant.

Good Bye Lions and Leopards, Hello Mavericks

The biggest challenge facing Apple is keeping the user experience on desktops and laptops up to the same level as their mobile operating system. The simplicity of our mobile devices can make desktops seem inferior. From my iPad I can do a lot at once. I can play music through my stereo, write my blog post, maintain a few texting conversations, keep an eye on my inbox, and get updates from all my apps. I can easily swipe up a control bar and swipe between apps. I can pinch things closed. The Mavericks operating system will go a long way towards keeping desktop computing appealing.

  • To keep the screen less cluttered, folder (aka finder) windows are now tabbed. Just like your browser has tabs, now you’re folders do too!
  • More cross device syncing. The last OS allowed us to share browser windows and iMessage conversations between devices. Now you can also map out directions on your desktop or laptop and, within two clicks, send it to your phone.
  • The Safari browser now helps you manage your reading list. A sidebar provides a feed list and continuous scrolling between articles. No clicking to switch, just keep scrolling!
  • Really, really cool… If you’re a social media person. A new feature gives you a centralized list of all the stuff your friends (and people you follow) have linked to. Kim Kardashian linked to a dress designer she likes? That site is in your list! Your friend linked to a funny YouTube video? That’s in the list too!20130610-203909.jpg
  • Smart power consumption features help laptops maximize battery life
  • Better features for people using multiple monitors

Other new stuff:

  • iRadio: A free, with ads, Internet radio feature. Same old stuff here. Ad free for iTunes Match subscribers
  • An updated App Store that gives new ways to search for apps based on auto detection of where you are and what might be relevant.
  • The Apple creative suite got moved to the cloud so you can work on a project between multiples devices.

This stuff isn’t revolutionary, and that sucks. It’s a lot of fun when Apple thinks big.

For where Apple came up short, stay tuned.

In the meantime, please share your thoughts!

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