Great news from Apple’s WWDC

Apple have just hosted their 24th annual World Wide Developer’s Conference in San Francisco, California. Two of the AVA Development team were able to get their hands on much prized tickets to this prestigious event, thus maintaining an unbroken tradition of AVA participation in the conference which stretches back almost as far as the event itself. From the point of view of AVA and our customers, there were major positive developments on both hardware and software fronts at the conference. Simon Whomsley, AVA’s Director of Research and Development, writes more…

Two years ago WWDC sold out in 11 hours, this year it sold out in just 71 seconds! So why is it so popular and why do we make a 12,000 mile round trip to see it? Its much more than a pilgrimage to see the actual people who wrote the operating system, although as a geek, I have to admit that sitting a few meters from Steve Wozniak (Apple co founder) and Jonathan Ive is pretty cool.

People often ask me what will be announced at the conference. They forget that it is clouded in secrecy and most Apple engineers don’t even know what’s being announced- perhaps that’s part of the excitement. People are usually interested to know whether a new iPhone will be announced but forget that its a software developer conference. New hardware can be introduced but the usual reason is so developers can focus on any technological changes within it. The MacBook Pro introduced at last year’s conference is an example of this. It supported a new high resolution ‘Retina’ display requiring significant software changes to take advantage of it. To this end, we developed AVA 4.7, allowing your designs to look stunning on retina displays, and AVA 4.8 sees the redesign of all our icons to high resolution variants. We do this to keep our software bang up to date as who know’s when higher resolution large screen displays may become available?

So why is this year’s conference so exciting? These conferences often mark a turning point and set the direction of our future. In recent years more and more conference sessions have been targeted at iOS due to the success of the iPad and iPhone. The Mac was perhaps starting to feel like a second class citizen. Who knew the Mac’s future? Would the Mac OS and iOS to start to converge? The Mac Pro was withdrawn from Europe more than six months ago and, although we had been promised a replacement, it had not been mentioned much for a while. No need to worry…. great news, all looks good. Phew! Not only did we see the introduction of a stunning new Mac Pro but the general ‘feel’ for the Mac was great! The advantage of visiting the conference in person rather than simply watching the keynote on video is this ‘feel’. You get it when talking to fellow developers at 4am in the morning in the line for the keynote or in the conference halls. In the past many people I would speak to were simply interested in iOS while now some suggested they were interested in learning how to bring their iOS application to the Mac! This is a complete reversal of the past and is probably partly due to the success of the App Store and rapid adoption of new Mac OS’s.

During the keynote speech, Tim Cook boasted about iMac and MacBook’s successes, informing us that the Mac has grown 100% in the past five years, while PCs have grown just 18%. From a previous presentation, I remember Tim Cook stating that although the Mac only represented a (then) relatively small percentage of the total PC market, this meant that there was plenty of room to target further Mac growth.

We were then introduced to our next generation of MacOS which has been named OS X Mavericks. Since Apple are running out of cat names, Mavericks is part of a new theme of names based on “places that inspire Apple, based in California” . Significantly, Cook added “We want a set of names that will carry us forward for the next ten years”!

One item of interest in OS X Mavericks is the new full screen experience. In the past, when an Application went into full screen mode, the other monitors connected to the system were made redundant. Now they can be fully utilised. A menu bar is on each screen making this available. The great news is that since AVA 4.7 adopted the full screen advice from last years conference, so we get these further enhancements ‘for free’ (i.e. without needing further software development) this year.

A new ‘tags’ feature was shown in the Finder. Users are able to make custom tags and add them to the files to enable rapid searching. You can add multiple tags too and set them from within the Save panel. This all goes nicely with our QuickLook adoption for large previews. There are ways we can write these tags from within our software so we may harness their power in the future.

There are underlying memory changes which we may be able to take advantage of for better performance and, while on that subject, there are also significant improvements to the optimisation tools which we intend to make full use of.

As well as the obvious features, Mavericks contains a lot behind the scenes. Much was said about power management and how to optimise our applications to save energy. One reason for this was to extend the battery life on devices such as the MacBook Air (also announced in the keynote). The MacBook Air is also the first Mac to use the new Fourth-generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors — based on the groundbreaking Haswell ULT architecture and we expect these Haswell processors to feature the next generation of Mac’s. While power management may not sound that exciting if you never have to work on batteries, reducing our power usage may help us get more out of the OS or work better on future technologies.

Other areas of interest and development included Automation, Smooth scrolling, Power Nap and Unit testing. As usual there was so much information that we can utilise in many areas.

In summary it was a superb conference, completely inspirational and focusing on an increasingly great platform which seems to have a more secure future than ever.

If you wish to see the Keynote, you can watch for yourself at http://www.apple.com/apple-events/june-2013/ If you’d like to learn more about the stunning new Mac Pro, visit http://www.apple.com/mac-pro/
Simon Whomsley 3 July 2013








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