You might’ve heard some news coming out of Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco recently. The mobile device team from Modernizing Medicine® (thanks to Fernando and Gus who stayed home to guard the fort) was there in force to see the future of iOS. I’d like to describe some of the coolest things we observed, and what it means to EMA™ and our users.
iOS 7 was the star of WWDC, with a massive redesign announced for this fall. Newer iPhones and iPads will get iOS 7 as a free update, and your device will never be the same. The screen will become livelier and more physically reactive, as apps respond to your movements in addition to taps. Content takes center stage, while the interface recedes into the background. Overall, it feels classier and more mature. Everything looks lighter, with airy backgrounds, tons of white space and more legible fonts. Text stands out more, making it easier to read. Apps will be full of fresh content the moment you open them, without making you wait on a spinning activity indicator. You can peek inside running apps, like on the desktop. Photos are automatically organized based on date and location. iTunes plays music like it’s a radio station, or Pandora. New system-wide gestures make it less likely that you’ll get a thumb cramp reaching for the back button all the time. Also, a swipe up from the bottom reveals a new Control Center, where you can do things like turn the brightness up or down without digging through Settings. Photo sharing is easier than ever, and AirDrop enables you to transfer other files, too. Siri has a more lifelike voice, with choices of both male & female. As the interface takes on a playfulness, it also acquires a seriousness, as if to say “iOS is all grown up.” Some of these changes will happen immediately upon upgrade, while others will take more time as app developers react to the news. There are so many ways we’ll be able to enhance EMA with these new tools.
Beyond the keynote and technical sessions, we got a lot of inspiration from the Design Awards, where Apple named the year’s best apps. Of course, one day we hope to be on that stage representing Modernizing Medicine® and all our users. So what does it take to create one of theses award winning apps? Technical prowess, user interface innovation and stunning design… which makes for a great source of fun, useful and well-made apps to try out.
A couple of iPad-only apps took home honors: Procreate and WWF Together. Procreate is a complete artist’s studio, with brushes and paint, pencils, ink and pens. It’s highly performant and social. WWF Together profiles endangered animals from around the world, set to an origami theme, with beautiful pictures, sound design and animation. Both of these apps respect the native iPad navigation and controls, while elaborating on them to further immerse the user.
Games are always heavily represented at the ADAs. This year we saw the creators of Badland, Letterpress, Ridiculous Fishing and Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders all step on stage to accept a glowing aluminum cube trophy. Badland is an atmospheric forward-scroller where the alien environment comes alive to propel and impede your journey as a malleable pincushion entity. Letterpress is a two-player spelling strategy game: if scrabble is checkers, this is chess. Ridiculous Fishing sets you asail with chainsaw lures and machine guns to collect a multitude of retro-styled underwater beasts. Storm Raiders is a fantastically realistic WW II combat flight simulator, localized in ten languages. The common thread among these games, if there is one, is the natural playability and potential for addiction. They’re all universal, meaning they run natively on both iPhone and iPad. Storm Raiders goes so far as to also run on the desktop. You can learn more about these award winning apps, as well as others I haven’t mentioned, at the ADA website.
To enhance these games, Apple has added the ability to connect game controllers, effectively turning the iPhone into an Xbox. You can bet that with this new standard, iPod game controllers will be a huge hit this holiday season. Put it on your wish list early, because there’s a high likelihood the better ones will be flying off the shelves.
To showcase of the vast number of apps in the App Store, Apple created a huge dashboard – a banquet table composed of 120 iPads, displaying a rainbow of the 20,000 most popular apps. Each icon flashed as its corresponding app was downloaded. 100 downloads created a ripple effect, as did skimming your finger across the screens’ surface.
WWDC is an information overload of new technologies, made up of over 100 hours of lectures, 200 labs and 1,000 Apple engineers. Most of what we observed is still subject to non-disclosure, so it’ll be a few more months before we can reveal the full picture. But trust that we’re hard at work integrating these new tools and approaches into EMA, so as to take full advantage of what iOS 7 has to offer.