If you were paying any attention at all to the tech news last week, it was hard to miss Apple’s big Worldwide Developers Conference that ran for several days in San Francisco. As usual there was plenty of hoopla, with dozens of new hardware and software announcements hitting the airwaves.
Most of those announcements, however, weren’t particularly exciting for travellers. We’re unlikely to be carrying around a new Mac Pro in our suitcases no matter how sleek and powerful it might be.
All of that said, there were a few new products and features that are good news for those of us that travel. While none of them are earth-shattering, they all serve to make life a little better for Apple users on the road.
A Faster, Longer-Lasting Macbook Air
A new Macbook Air model was announced at WWDC, and it’s already available in the Apple Store. It’s faster all round – CPU, graphics, wireless and storage all get a significant speed boost – while simultaneously increasing the battery life to between nine and twelve hours depending on the model.
The only number that hasn’t gone up, in fact, is the price – it still starts at $999 for the 11″ version and $1099 for our pick, the 13″ model.
If you are looking to save as much money and space in your bag as possible, though, the 11″ Macbook Air has had another very welcome upgrade. The tiny 64GB hard drive of the previous model has been replaced with a 128GB version, meaning you’ll now actually have room to store all of those photos and videos you’re taking.
Much – but not all – of the credit for the improvements can be given to Intel’s latest Haswell chips that are appearing in virtually every new laptop at the moment. The second half of 2013 is definitely shaping up to be a great time to buy a new portable computer.
Photos Easier to Share, Sorted by Location
An update to the iOS photo management system also bodes well for travellers, Rather than just endlessly scrolling through the Camera Roll to find that great shot of a Thailand beach that you took six months ago, pictures are now organised into ‘moments’ and collections based on time and location.
The automatic location tagging means that it should now be much easier to find the photos you’re after if you take a lot of them.
Tied into the update is the ability to share photos and video directly with other nearby iOS devices. Given that there’s no need for an internet connection – or even a pre-existing wifi network – “Air Drop” is a nice feature if you’re looking to share photos with your new friends at the end of a city tour or pub crawl.
Even if it’s limited to only those new friends with the latest Apple devices…
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Making Life Harder for Thieves
While having your phone stolen certainly isn’t a risk only when you’re travelling, anything that makes life more difficult for those who steal our technology is a good thing.
While Apple has had “Find my iPhone” for some time now, criminals in the know simply turn a stolen phone off, wipe it and sell it on.
In an attempt to increase the degree of difficulty, the latest iOS has added ‘Activation Lock’ into the mix. If it looks like you’re not going to be getting your phone back any time soon, you can still remotely wipe it – but in a new twist, it can’t be reactivated without entering the original Apple ID and password.
If the thief doesn’t know those details – and most of the time, they won’t – the phone becomes essentially an expensive brick. Even better, it’s a brick that will keep displaying whatever custom message you chose when you wiped it.
Over time, there’s at least some hope that this could slow down the rampant trade in stolen iPhones – which could also mean less chance that it gets stolen in the first place. We can only hope…
So there we go, the three things that we found most interesting for travellers at WWDC last week. Do any of them excite you? Did you spot any others?
All images via Apple.