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Apple WWDC 2013 Keynote Recap

On Monday morning in California, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage at the Worldwide Developers Conference to roll out a list of big things that the “world’s most valuable company” had been working on. The shortlist: OS X Mavericks, new Mac Pro, iWork for iCloud, iOS 7, and iTunes Radio, but no new iPhone announced.

“Video Game in the Real World”

Before they got into the meat of presentation, Cook brought out two lucky fellows from a new robotics/software company to introduce one of their products that they developed using iOS products. Boris Sofman showed us the Anki Drive, an AI version of a track toys of the 1980s race track toy that he referred to as a “video game in the real world.” After some initial hiccups getting the thing to work, Sofman showed how his software allowed the cars to automatically steer, brake, and race around, adjusting in real time and communicating with each other through an iPad. Once it got working, it was very cool and the crowd responded in turn.

OS X Mavericks

Apple took a big step forward in the life of OS X and has now officially departed from the big cat-themed naming conventions. Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, proved himself to be an able and engaging presenter, winning the crowd over with humor and jokes like: “We don’t want to be the first software release in history to be delayed by a lack of cats.” Instead of cats, the new operating systems from Apple will be named after notable places in California. First up is Mavericks beach, which explains that big wave in the background. Notable new features include a new calendar, tags, finder tabs, and an upgraded version of Keychain, which will move to an iCloud-based password solution that will store and encrypt your passwords across all your Apple devices.

Mac Pro

Absent the announcement of a new iPhone, the new Mac Pro was the biggest hardware drop of the day (at least in Cupertino). The audience, somewhat muted in its applause at first, was definitely won over when the new Mac Pro was compared to the previous version. The new sleek cylinder weighs in at just 1/8 the size of the now familiar towers, all while boasting tons of new features and horsepower, including new workstation-grade GPUs that are up to 2.5x faster than the last generation. Of note is the fact that the new towers would be assembled in the US.

iOS 7 / iTunes Radio

Even though there was no new iPhone announced, the long-awaited unveiling of iOS 7 is pretty much like getting a new device (for now). Led by simplicity evangelist Jony Ive, the new iOS software is a complete visual and technical overhaul of the operating system, loaded with slick visuals and new features, such as Activation Lock — essentially a kill switch that will disable a phone when a thief tries to use it. And say goodbye to the felt and leather, because the much-maligned skeuomorphism philosophy will now be replaced by sleek, flat surfaces and textures. Apple also introduced iTunes Radio, something long predicted ever since the company’s acquisition of LaLa back in 2010.

Designed by Apple in California

At the end of the show, as Cook was closing things down, the collective anticipation for a “one more thing” moment was palpable. But instead, Cook showed people a new Apple ad narrated by Ben Affleck. After everything so far, it came off as a bit of misfire. Still, the message of the spot was heartfelt and overall it was a solid presentation.

Next: Best iOS Games of 2013 (So Far)

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