Product Highlights from Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference

Michael Teague  |

This year, there has been increasing pressure resulting from the widely-held consensus that in the absence of the release of some ground breaking, game changing new product, Apple Inc. (AAPL) is set to continue a slow decline, or will be forced to commoditize its phones and tablets that once set the industry bar and induced what often seemed like hysteria in loyal consumers on the occasion of every single release.

While the products unveiled by the tech giant on the opening day of the WWDC were perhaps not as dazzling as some may have wanted, and are not likely propel the company back to its former glory, they were nonetheless significant, and could very well provide the foundation for future innovations.

The first big announcement was the OS X Mavericks operating system for desktop computers, set for release this coming fall. The platform offers a number of new features, including updates to the finder that allows for multiple tabs, as well as the ability to search both the computer’s hard drive at the same time as the user’s iCloud in the same search bar.

Mavericks features a faster startup, a faster Safari browser, easier switch-off between multiple displays, and incorporates some iOS apps such as iBooks and Maps.

The company unveiled two new versions of MacBook Air, in 11-inch and 13-inch versions, ranging in price from $999 to $1299. The new MacBooks claim anywhere from 9 to 12 hours of battery life, better graphics, and faster Wi-Fi.

Apple also debuted its new version of the MacBook Pro desktop, due out later in the year. The new computer works at twice the speed of its predecessor and will be manufactured in the United States. The decision to invest more into a new desktop product would perhaps seem counterintuitive, but the compact, cylindrical design of the product is very striking and the machine’s capabilities are beyond those of most desktops that are still monstrous by comparison.

The company also revealed its answer to Google Docs, in the form of iWork for iCloud. The app allows users to create documents through the web browser, and thus can be accessed on Mac and PC.

The biggest and most anticipated news by far, however, was the demo of the iOS 7 mobile platform. iOS 7 is heavy on multitasking, and bears new features such as AirDrop that allows users to share files with other iPhones and iPads over Wi-Fi, as well as new security features that disable a phone if it is misplaced or stolen.

The new platform will also allow different apps to run in the background without using as much of the device’s battery, and will have updates to Siri and a new look for the mailbox. iOS in the Car was another new feature that will allow drivers to use Siri, Maps, and Messages through dash screens in participating models such as Honda (HMC), Chevrolet, Nissan, and Jaguar.

Much attention was given to the iTunes Radio, the company’s attempt to outdo the success of streaming radio services like Spotify and Pandora (P). The free radio service is embedded in the music app, and much like its competitors builds stations based on information culled from a user’s music library. The service will be available without advertisement for a $24.99 yearly fee through iTunes Match, which will allow users to access their libraries from iCloud, and without advertisements.

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