Mobile

WWDC: The 6 things worth talking about

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Francisco Inchauste is a designer, writer, and human, apparently in that order.

Of all the announcements made this week at the Apple’s WWDC, the one to get the biggest reaction was the redesign of iOS. It’s the biggest change since the iPhone debut in 2008 and it definitely is “polarizing” as John Gruber warned it would be.

Many designers think Apple went too far in the wrong direction, while others feel that the UI may have been rushed and with some iteration, will get better. You can also find a lot of designers offering up some interesting visual improvements on Dribbble. Beyond just the visual style, it comes down to usability concerns and legibility with the typeface they chose to use throughout the OS.

Since an interface is something you need to use before you can truly judge the impact, I’ll have to bite my tongue until that point. But since Apple talked about more than just a redesign I wanted to point out some other things they covered. So, if you want a break from the uproar, here are six things in the Apple announcement worth talking about:

1. Bing, baby

So, how does that saying go? Something like, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”?

Apple continues its mission to show Google the door out of iOS by welcoming Bing as the search engine of choice for Siri. Making Bing the iOS 7 “default search engine” was a somewhat surprising move given it is Microsoft. Users can still pick Google to use with Safari (or other browser apps). Siri will also directly search Twitter and Wikipedia.

2. Automatic updates

No manual updates anymore for apps. They will download in the background (similar to Android) so that users will get to skip the task of managing them manually.

It will be interesting to see how Apple protects users from potential bad developer updates, or from sneaking in a “no-no” feature like tethering onto thousands of iDevices.

3. iTunes Radio

Apple “sherlocked” a few apps yesterday (like 1Password), but the biggest new product release was iTunes Radio.

The next thing across your lips will be: “Is this the Pandora killer?” It will definitely be interesting to see how this affects Pandora and other streaming music services like Rdio or Spotify–although, the latter two might not feel as much of an impact at this point since they offer much more than just streaming radio.

Apple is a little late to the game, but the service does have an arguably better monetization channel (and media ecosystem to tap into) with a clear call to action to purchase music within the app.

4. Apple in your car

Apple is truly going “Post-PC” with it’s “iOS in the car” system.

Users will be able to access key features of their iPhone from within the car: music, phone calls, iMessages, maps, etc, will all available from your vehicle’s dashboard screen. The ability for smartphones to be connected to your vehicle, of course, is a trend we’ll be seeing a lot more of. It’s good to see Apple getting these relationships tee’d up with manufacturers early on for a 2014 rollout. Winning in this space will involve making a direct and easy way to connect and create a seamless experience for users.

5. Desktop + devices

Apple is designing the Mac and iDevice hardware ecosystem to work better together.

Your Mac OS can now receive push notifications from your iOS device, like updates from your favorite apps and services enjoyed on your iDevices. You can also respond to instant messages, emails and FaceTime. Also, once linked, you can send things like directions to your specific device. This is notable because this kind of link from desktop to device has been a bit weaker point with Android, but I’m sure we’ll see more in the future from them.

6. New Mac Pro

With the new Mac Pro announcement, Apple shows the world that although they helped usher the masses into the “Post-PC” world, they aren’t completely abandoning the desktop computer. This should make shops that require heavy processing for things like video editing, quite happy. Apple’s design and engineering chops really shine in this rather innovative computer.

With a nod back to the Twentieth Anniversary Mac, the new Mac Pro offers up some impressive specs, packaged up into something that looks straight out of Star Trek.

I know there was a lot covered, but these are the announcements that stood out for me. I look forward to the more consumer-based product announcements from Apple in the Fall and what moves Apple will make with respect to TV and the rumored iWatch.

Francisco Inchauste is a designer, writer, and human, apparently in that order. He works for Universal Mind, is the UX editor for Smashing Magazine, and tweets on Twitter.