Microsoft-Ala Moana Opens

Crowds packed the Microsoft retail store June 13 during its grand opening at Ala Moana Center | Photo from Alan Stewart

While I was enjoying the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) last week and playing various games on Xbox One consoles, Microsoft opened the doors to its first full-line retail store at Ala Moana Center. Mayor Kirk Caldwell was among the local officials in attendance, and Microsoft donated $1.3 million in software to five Hawaii nonprofits to mark the opening of the store.

From what my MidWeek colleagues told me, thousands crowded around the store to get a first look. A few of the individuals they spoke with were looking for a chance to see the Xbox One, but were disappointed when there weren’t any there. Selfishly, I’m glad I had the wonderful opportunity to play with several Xbox Ones and the respective new games at E3. But, sorry, the rest of y’all will have to wait! In the meantime, if you haven’t already, head to Ala Moana Center to check out the new store.

Apple Unveils iOS7, iTunes Radio

Just a day before E3 began last week, Apple had some big announcements: It unveiled its next mobile operating system iOS7, iTunes Radio, an upgraded MacBook Air, and a new Mac Pro with next generation Xeon processors.

Available this fall, the new iOS 7 is the most significant iOS update since the original iPhone and features a radical new user interface. This major facelift includes just about everything, from the typography, color schemes and icon/button shapes across the entire platform to completely new features.

To highlight a few new features: Control Center puts your most-used settings front and center; the Safari browser now includes a unified search and URL field along with browser tabs and disappearing navigation bars (until you need them); the peer-to-peer file sharing service, AirDrop, is built-in, allowing file and picture sharing via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; Siri is revamped with two voices (now a male version, too); improved Multitasking, and enhanced Camera and Photo apps. iTunes Radio expands the pre-existing iTunes with familiar features that include radio stations you can build around your favorite artists and what you want to hear. It will be tied to your Apple ID, so you can use it wherever you have iTunes installed. It’s free, and even ad-free if you’re an iTunes Match user.

Additionally, Apple announced an updated MacBook Air with an allday (12-hour) battery life, fourth generation Intel Core processors with faster graphics and flash storage up to 45 percent faster than the previous generation.

It comes in 11- and 13-inch models with prices starting at $999.

Last but not least, the next generation Mac Pro is designed around a revolutionary unified thermal core and introduces a completely new pro desktop architecture and design that is optimized for performance inside and out. It will be 2.5 times faster than the current Mac Pro and is the most expandable Mac, with six Thunderbolt 2 ports (which can deliver up to 20Gbps of bandwidth to each external device). The bottom line is that this delivers an amazing amount of power into an incredibly small package. No exact price announced yet.