Apple WWDC keynote announcements

Today’s keynote presentation at the WWDC in San Francisco has brought a huge number of announcements, addressing both Apple’s hardware and software range.

As expected, iOS 6 was launched at the event, with several new innovations.

Apple has a whole new Maps app, with a new 3D flyover feature for large cities – providing far greater detail than a satellite image. The new Maps app also supports ‘turn by turn’ navigation, as seen on traditional satellite navigation devices. Whether Google Maps will be downloadable from the App Store will be very interesting to see.

FaceTime will now be permitted over mobile networks – video calling is something that 3G networks were originally marketed for, before the explosion of the mobile web.

Siri has been greatly expanded in iOS 6, and is now being introduced to the new iPad for the first time. It’s now possible to tweet and post Facebook updates and launch applications directly with the tool.

Shared Photo Streams allow users to share photos easily from the Photos app. If the other user is using iCloud, they are delivered automatically.

A new Passbook app allows barcodes and coupons to be stored safely in one place, rather than having to locate them amongst several hundred emails at the ticket barrier, or having to print them out unnecessarily. This could be really useful for theme parks such as Thorpe Park, which uses a bar code system to grant access to the attraction. The app uses geolocation to determine when the user is close, and can pop up a notification on the home screen.

The Phone app, which has been almost untouched since the first release of the iPhone, is now being updated in iOS 6. There’s a new ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature, allowing users to schedule a ‘Quiet Hours’ period where all notifications are suppressed. Anyone who has been woken by a call or text in the middle of the night (almost everyone) will welcome this feature. It’s possible to define a ‘Favourites’ list who are allowed to call during this period.

Support for the original iPad has been dropped with this release, although the older 3GS will be offered the upgrade. This is because Apple is still selling the 3GS in its stores, while the first iPad has been discontinued. iOS 6 will be released this autumn, almost certainly around the time of a new iPhone.

On the hardware side, the MacBook Air is being updated with faster Intel processors and a new 512GB solid state drive option. It’ll now come with USB3 ports, in addition to Thunderbolt.

There’s an all-new MacBook Pro with a 15″ 2880×1800 Retina class display, while the current generation has been granted faster processors and graphics. Interestingly, there’s no optical drive in the new version. It appears Apple isn’t interested in supporting Blu ray on the Mac, though that’s understandable (if not excusable) as they’d rather customers purchase HD content through iTunes instead.

Mac OS X Mountain Lion will be made available next month in the App Store for just £13.99, and free for any customers who purchase a new Mac from today. Siri’s voice recognition feature will be included, though it won’t be able to process any requests such as creating calendar events. The other features, such as Notification Center have already previously been announced.

It’s interesting to take a step back and examine just how wide Apple’s portfolio is now. We’re in for a great year of new releases – now we’re just waiting on solid news of the new iPhone.

Apple WWDC keynote preview

The annual Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference kicks off today with a keynote by Tim Cook at 6pm UK time.

There’s plenty of rumours surrounding the event, but it seems almost certain that Apple will be announcing a new version of iOS at the event. A few days ago, workmen were seen hanging an iOS 6 banner at the conference in San Francisco:

Other rumours include the removal of Google Maps in favour of Apple’s own solution, Siri to appear on the third generation iPad, and perhaps even a new Macbook with a Retina display.

It looks likely to be feature packed event – come back later for a round up of all the announcements.

Potential iPhone 5 case design

Leaked images of the case for the next generation iPhone have recently been published by 9to5Mac, which seem to suggest that the new device will have a completely different design to that of the iPhone 4 and 4S.

From this image we can tell that there could be a number of changes. Most importantly, the screen appears much larger, and now appears to be sporting a 16:9 widescreen display. Many people have questioned if the screen size could ever be increased without affecting the layout of on screen elements. However, apps are already expected to be slightly flexible vertically (most applications have scroll bars) and so increasing the resolution in one direction only could be a very viable solution. The screen resolution is reported to be 1136 x 640, up from 960 x 640 on the current generation.

Interestingly, the case seems to have no room for a traditional 30-pin dock connector, which has been standard on all of Apple’s products in recent living memory. Instead, there seems to be a much smaller hole for a potential smaller connector. This could leave more room for higher quality, stereo speakers. External audio is something which has always been a disappointment on the iPhone so this would be most welcome. However, changing the dock connector would mean any device or cable which currently uses this type would become obsolete, unless Apple produced a form of adaptor.

It appears that the headphone socket may be moving from the top to the bottom of the device, taking some of the room saved by having a smaller connector.

Finally, it seems that all the speculation about a phone with no SIM card will come to nothing for now. The images above clearly show a SIM card tray with space for a slot.

It’s been speculated that the iPhone will simply be known as ‘the new iPhone’, just like the ‘new iPad’ which was released earlier this year. If it does indeed have a larger screen and an all new design which these images suggest, offering something to both iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4/4S users, then I expect it to be hugely successful.