It’s time for ExtraBITS: WWDC Edition! With all of Apple’s announcements, many new features didn’t get much play. Macworld’s Serenity Caldwell lists 27 you might have missed. You probably did see iOS 7’s awesome-looking Weather app, but Apple might not have been first to the idea. One of the subtle new features in iOS 7 is a male voice for Siri in the United States, but why now? Apple also handed out the latest round of Apple Design Awards, which include some incredible apps you’ll love. However, some folks don’t think iOS 7 is worthy of a design award, citing disjointed icons as one of the reasons, but it turns out that there’s an explanation. In all the hype about iOS 7, you might have missed a feature in iOS 6 that can protect your device from prying eyes — Rene Ritchie of iMore explains how to make the most of it. And finally, Microsoft has quietly released Office for the iPhone, but should you care?
Apple Responds to PRISM News — Like its tech industry peers, Apple has released a statement regarding PRISM, the alleged NSA data-collection program. Apple gives some examples of what has been requested by law enforcement agencies, including 4,000–5,000 requests for data between 1 December 2012 and 31 May 2013. However, Apple also claims that it cannot decrypt iMessage or FaceTime conversations, and also states that the company does not store data related to location, map searches, or Siri requests in “any identifiable form.”
Lock Down Your iOS Device with Guided Access — With all the noise about iOS 7, you might have forgotten about one of iOS 6’s least-known features: Guided Access, which lets you lock down apps and interface elements to protect your iPad or iPhone from prying eyes or rambunctious kids. Rene Ritchie of iMore gives an overview of how to use this feature, including how to simulate a “Guest Mode.”
Office Arrives on iPhone — Too Little, Too Late? — Microsoft Office is finally available for iOS, but prepare for disappointment. It’s only for the iPhone, and the app requires an Office 365 subscription, which starts at $60 a year. In addition to those limitations, the apps are bare bones, lacking many seemingly basic features: you can’t undo actions or change fonts in Word, nor can you add slides or create new documents in PowerPoint.
Explaining the Varying Designs of iOS 7 Icons — If the icons of iOS 7 look disjointed to you, there might be a reason for it. According to an exclusive report by The Next Web, Jony Ive, Apple’s SVP of Design, had the marketing team choose the color palettes and basic look of the icons, then passed each icon off to the respective app teams to finish. In other words, too many cooks… The good news is that the look of iOS 7 is reportedly far from done, so we anticipate a more coherent design by release.
Apple Announces 2013 Apple Design Award Winners — Apple has given its annual design awards to 11 apps for Mac and iOS. On the functional side, winners include WWF Together for iPad, which details endangered animals; Procreate for iPad, a drawing app; Yahoo’s new weather app for iPhone and iPad; Web development app Coda 2 for Mac; and note-taker Evernote 5 for Mac. Winning games include Letterpress for iPad and iPhone, Badland for iPhone and iPad, Ridiculous Fishing for iPhone and iPad, and Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. There were also two student winners: Finish, a streamlined to-do app for iPhone, and mosaic.io, a photo mosaic app for iPhone and iPad.
Why Apple Added a Male Voice to Siri — One of the less-discussed features in iOS 7 is the new male voice for Siri, but why is Apple adding it now? According to Stanford professor Clifford Nass, one cringeworthy reason could be because female voices are sometimes seen as less intelligent than male voices. These cultural perceptions are the reason why Siri originally received male voices in some countries, like the United Kingdom, but not in others. For example, BMW had to recall a car in Germany, because male drivers didn’t trust the female voice chosen for the GPS. A better reason? Apple wants to let users customize the iOS experience more fully, though it seems unlikely that Apple would go as far as including the celebrity voices used by GPS makers TomTom and Garmin.
How Apple Stole One Developer’s Thunder — Apple might have wowed the WWDC keynote audience with its iOS 7 Weather app, which shows animated weather effects in the background, but Apple wasn’t the first to have the idea. Developer Alaric Cole tells the tale of his potentially groundbreaking weather app, Horizon, and how Apple kept it out of the App Store. Horizon would have also displayed weather effects in the background, but was continually rejected by Apple for vague reasons. Cole doesn’t accuse Apple of stealing his idea, but he does wonder if they delayed his app so as to beat him to market.
Macworld Explores 27 Undiscussed iOS 7 Features — Over at Macworld, Serenity Caldwell explores 27 new features in iOS 7 that Apple glossed over during the WWDC keynote. Some of the more interesting tidbits are natural language calendar notifications, better Wi-Fi hotspot support, walking directions and a night mode in Maps, and Smart Mailboxes in Mail. One particularly interesting note is support for third-party game controllers, which could be a clue to Apple’s future TV and gaming plans.