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iOS7, iRadio and more: What to expect at Apple WWDC 2013

iOS7, iRadio and more: What to expect

Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference is about to kick off today (10:30pm IST) in San Francisco and it promises to be the stage for the grand unveiling of iOS 7 and everything that’s changed for the once-dominant iOS platform.

After Google I/O last month brought in some much-needed changes to core Android services, Apple would be looking to best its biggest rival in the smartphone and tablet arena. As expected, there have been loads of rumours and leaks doing the rounds in the lead up, but we have a fair idea of what Apple will show off at the Moscone West Center. Here’s a quick round-up of what we can expect from the event.

iOS 7
Arguably the biggest announcement expected at WWDC will be for the next version of Apple’s mobile OS. iOS 7 is said to be a major overhaul of the iPhone and iPad UI. Jony Ive, Senior VP of Industrial Design at Cupertino, has been handling the redesign and the company’s CEO Tim Cook has called Ive the key to the iOS redesign. So what will iPhone loyalists see in iOS7? For one, the UI is said to sport a flatter look, with most of the skeumorphic elements left on the cutting floor. One look at Apple’s promotional posters for WWDC and you will get an idea of what’s coming in terms of iconography.

Is this the look for the new iOS7 icons? (Image credit: Simply Zesty)

Is this the look for the new iOS7 icons?

In addition, many of the core apps such as the Calendar, Mail, Notes and Game Center will sport a one-colour design along with large swathes of white space. One report has said Ive “has essentially made his mark on every corner of the operating system” but without making iOS look strange to those used to it. Android-like notification toggles are also set to make an appearance, along with panoramic wallpapers that scroll along with home screens.

We can’t wait to see what Apple has come up with for iOS, as the UI had started to look stale and generic after all these years.

Apple will also show off its new music streaming service iRadio at WWDC, although it is not expected to be a formal announcement. The company has sewn up deals with all three major music labels – Sony, Warner and Universal – in the past couple of months, with the Japanese company being the last to come onboard. iRadio will not be an on-demand service like Spotify, but will instead be on the lines of Pandora, with users being able to skip songs. Unfortunately, rumours about audio ads have persisted, which could mean Apple will leverage its iAd mobile advertising platform for this purpose.

iRadio is incoming

iRadio is incoming

We haven’t heard too much in the name of changes to Apple’s full-blown computer OS, but word is OS X 10.9 will bring more iOS integration. Apple Maps and Siri are incoming, according to a rumour, which emerged last year. There is a theory that Apple will be redesigning many UI elements to get it in line with iOS’s skeumorphic-less, flat look. Apple could also be endowing OS X with a more touch-friendly UI, which would be the natural progression for its Macbooks, considering all Macbooks now have a Retina-class display. The company has put up a banner inside the Moscone West building indicating that the next version of the OS is on its way.  While some features and UI changes may be revealed, we know that a number of designers and engineers from the OS X team were re-assigned to the iOS redesign, which could end up delaying the next version.

Hint of an OS X refresh? (Image credit: TechRadar)

Hint of an OS X refresh?

Apple’s focus in recent WWDCs has shifted from hardware to developers, but we would be highly surprised if there isn’t some kind of hardware unveiled on stage. Rumours have said a refreshed Macbook Air and Pro range could be shown off, based on Intel’s new Haswell chips.

iPad 5
According to one rumour, the iPad 5 will be hitting stores in September and is currently under trial production, which does mean a WWDC announcement cannot be ruled out entirely. As for iPhones (5S and the rumoured budget version), we highly doubt that these will be making an appearance at the show. But a “One more thing” announcement of a budget iPhone would take the cake.

An iWatch concept render (Image credit: Antonio De Rosa/ADR Studio)

An iWatch concept render (Image credit: Antonio De Rosa/ADR Studio)

Perhaps, the most intriguing of developments and one Apple fans will be most eagerly awaiting is the iWatch. Apple’s smart watch has been in development for months now and there is at least a 100-man team working on the wearable, which would mark Apple’s foray into the nascent market. One interesting possibility is that Apple could pull the iWatch out of the hat to give developers an early taste of what to expect when the device hits the market. Undoubtedly, that would get the development community a headstart towards making apps available for the iWatch, which could be crucial for Apple considering Google Glass has already seen some new apps since developers got their hands on it.