New Mac OS X Rumored to Be Star of Apple’s WWDC 2014

Source: Apple.comApple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference will focus on a new version of the Mac OS X operating system instead iOS, according to “sources with knowledge of the plans” cited by 9to5Mac. Over the past several years, Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference — or WWDC — has focused on new versions of the iPhone maker’s iOS mobile operating system.

However, this year Apple will break with tradition and make OS X 10.10 the linchpin of its annual developers’ conference. According to 9to5Mac’s insider sources, the switch is due to an “end-to-end redesign” of the current OS X. The design changes implemented in the new version of OS X will reportedly rival the level of changes made to the iOS 7 mobile operating system last year. In 2013, Apple unveiled a radically redesigned iOS that eliminated many of the skeuomorphic design elements that were found in all of the previous versions of the mobile operating system. The iOS 7 redesign effort was led by Jony Ive, Apple’s renowned design chief.

While it is not known who is leading the OS X redesign effort, 9to5Mac’s sources noted that some of the iOS user interface resources have been diverted to the OS X project that is “steaming forward” in order to be ready in time for WWDC 2014. As previously announced by Apple, this year’s WWDC will be held on June 2 through June 6 at San Francisco’s Moscone West.

According to 9to5Mac’s insider sources, the internal development codename for OS X 10.10 is “Syrah,” the same name of a grape variety used for making wine in California’s Napa Valley. However, it is not clear if “Syrah” will be used as the name for the finished product.

Apple has historically named its Mac operating systems after big cats, although it switched gears with last year’s release of OS X 10.9 Mavericks by naming it after a legendary surfing spot in California. Apple trademark filings recently uncovered by 9to5Mac suggested that Apple will continue the new tradition of naming OS X after geographic locations in California. Apple has already trademarked operating systems named after “Yosemite, Redwood, Mammoth, California, Big Sur, and Pacific,” according to 9to5Mac.

Although Apple’s new version of Mac OS X will likely feature a redesigned appearance that brings it in-line with the minimalist appearance of iOS 7, the desktop operating system will still retain many of the features that distinguish it from the mobile operating system. OS X 10.10 will keep unique features like the Finder, Mission Control, and multi-windows multitasking, according to 9to5Mac’s sources. While developers will have an opportunity to familiarize themselves with OS X 10.10 at the upcoming WWDC in June, most Apple users likely won’t get their hands on the new operating system version until the fall of 2014.

Earlier, we had talked about a new rumor that suggested Apple’s next MacBook may be getting some rather interesting new changes. Let’s recap from our earlier piece that highlighted a new keyboard patent for the company.

A recently published patent filing uncovered by Apple Insider suggests that the company’s next models may feature some major changes. In a patent titled “Multi-functional keyboard assemblies,” Apple described a revolutionary new type of keyboard that features touch-sensitive keys with customizable miniature display screens on each key. Some embodiments will also feature haptic feedback mechanisms that could include vibrations, clicks, or increased button resistance. According to the patent abstract, each key will be able to “receive at least two distinct types of inputs and/or receiving at least one type of input and providing at least one type of output.”

multi-function keyboard patent

As noted by Apple in the patent background, conventional keyboards feature keys, or “keystacks” that are “only able to perform one simple task, such as providing input to the electronic device, when a user presses the key.” However, Apple’s “multi-functional” keyboard would also use its capacitive touch sensors to receive additional input. In this sense, Apple’s proposed invention marries the touch-enabled capabilities of an iPad or iPhone with a traditional keyboard format. The multi-functional keyboard would allow users to navigate content with swiping gestures, similar to the way that content is navigated on a conventional touchscreen device.

Each key on Apple’s multi-functional keyboard would also be capable of displaying various glyphs, or symbols. Some embodiments of Apple’s invention use various wavelengths to illuminate different glyphs. “(D)ynamic glyphs can be generated using multiple light sources and filters of a circuitry module within the keystack,” explained Apple. “For example, a first glyph (e.g., a capital ‘A’) can be generated using a first light source that may emit light at a first wavelength (e.g., at a red wavelength), and a second glyph (e.g., a lower case ‘a’) can be generated using a second light source that may emit light at a second wavelength (e.g., at a blue wavelength).”

Apple’s invention also allows the keyboard to output information to users via haptic feedback mechanisms. Haptics, or tactile feedback technology, is already available on Apple’s iPhone in the form of vibration notification alerts.

While the “Multi-functional keyboard assemblies,” patent outlined many unique keyboard technologies, Apple Insider noted that Apple’s invention also builds on concepts first seen in Art. Lebedev Studio’s Optimus Maximus keyboard. Like Apple’s proposed multi-function keyboard, the Optimus Maximus keyboard featured keys that could display different symbols. However, unlike Apple’s invention, the Optimus Maximus keyboard does not include touch sensors or haptic feedback mechanisms.

Although it is unknown if the multi-functional keyboard described in this patent will be implemented in the next MacBook refresh, it should be noted that Apple is rumored to be developing a new type of MacBook Air with major hardware changes for release later this year. According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will release an “ultra-slim” 12-inch MacBook Air in fourth quarter of this year, reports Apple Insider.

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