Smart robotic toy cars and more at WWDC 2013
June 17, 2013
by Mark Ollig

When Apple holds a party, the entire tech world races to it.

Apple disclosed a few surprises during the recently held Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2013 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

This venue is regularly used by Apple to announce new products, technologies, and software.

A new version release called Mavericks (10.9) for the Mac OS X (operating system 10) graphical user interface was presented.

I noticed Apple did not use a cat’s name for this OS X version, as they have in prior version releases, such as: Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, Lion . . . you get the idea.

This 10th version release of OS X Mavericks will include: bundling of Apple’s Maps and iBook apps (applications), providing enhanced iCloud merging, incorporating more mobile device iOS apps, and improving battery resource usage, resulting in extended battery life.

Look for Mavericks to be available this fall.

The 2013 WWDC presentation began with a short video on how Apple goes about designing a product.

While a piano lightly played in the background, a video begun scrolling text of the questions Apple considers when designing a new product.

Apple says it begins with focus, and asking what people want to feel: delight, surprise, love, connection?

In coming up with a design, there are, according to Apple, a thousand “no’s” for every “yes.”

The text introduction sums up by stating, “We simplify, we perfect, until everything we touch enhances each life.”

The WWDC 2013 keynote address began with a smiling Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, taking the stage to loud applause from the folks in the capacity-filled Moscone Center.

Cook said this was the 24th Apple WWDC, and that over 60 countries would be participating during this year’s conference.

The week-long WWDC is the place where software programmers can check out Apple’s newest software designs and applications. They can also bring in their own programming code to discuss with Apple programmers.

How popular is the WWDC? The keynote show sold out in just 71 seconds, if that is any indication.

Over 1,000 Apple engineers were available to help the programmers, along with over 120 “hands-on” labs, and 100 group break-out sessions.

Apple’s software apps are extremely popular, and the latest numbers show Apple users have downloaded over 50 billion of them to their smart devices.

Over 375,000 apps have been designed just for use on the iPad alone.

There are over 6 million registered Apple software developers, according to Cook.

Students, it pays learning how to code, and becoming an app software developer.

Cook expressed how “incredibly proud” he was to announce Apple has, so far, paid software developers $10 billion for the programming apps they have created.

Apple’s mobile iOS platform has 74 percent of the total app downloaded revenues, with Android at 20 percent, and other platforms with 6 percent.

So far, no other company has come close to taking the “app” out of Apple.

Soon after Cook addressed the audience, he introduced a new startup company called Anki.

“They’re using iOS devices and the iOS platform to bring artificial intelligence and robotics into our daily lives,” he explained.

Cook then introduced Boris Sofman, CEO and co-founder of Anki, to talk about his new company.

“We started Anki while working on our Ph.D.’s in robotics at Carnegie Mellon University. We worked on everything from machine learning, to walking robots, to autonomous vehicles,” Sofman said while addressing the audience.

“With the help of iOS devices, we are bringing this technology out of the lab and into people’s lives,” he added.

Stofman explained that after five years, they are ready to present their first product, called Anki Drive, which is a real-world, smart robotic toy car racing game.

“This is a video game in the real world,” he told the cheering audience as they watched robotic cars racing and outmaneuvering each other around a flat oval racetrack which had been rolled out onto the stage.

Four robotic toy cars, each using Bluetooth technology, moved swiftly and, I might add, intelligently, as they raced against each other around the track.

Each robotic car was making its own computations to steer, maneuver, control its speed, and sense where it was located on the track while maintaining its distance in relation to the other cars.

The important thing to remember is that these cars are individually reacting to their surroundings in real-time using the Anki iOS app.

With an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, a person can control a robotic car and have competitive races against other smart device users.

Anki Drive will be available this fall at Apple Stores.

You can check out Anki on the Web at http://anki.com.

Apple’s new mobile platform iOS 7 will be available this fall. One new feature includes Activation Lock, which is a theft deterrent function.

Before an iPhone’s “Find My iPhone” feature can be turned off, or any of its data can, be erased (wiped), the devices Apple ID and password will need to be entered.

Detailed information, including an informative video about iOS7, can be viewed at http://www.apple.com/ios/ios7.

The new Mac Pro, Apple’s latest computing work station, enclosed in a black cylindrical, tube-like aluminum case, is scheduled for release later this year.

To view the entire Apple WWDC keynote, race over to http://www.apple.com/apple-events/june-2013.

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