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Weekend Roundup: iOS 7 - the good, bad, and the copycat; HP's enterprise whirlwind in Vegas; the UK startup climate analysed

Clever or copycat? iOS 7 under the spotlight

Apple was always likely to grab a greedy fistful of headlines this week with its annual WWDC conference taking place, but the radical nature of its overhaul to the iOS mobile operating system revealed on Monday provided an even greater stir than was perhaps expected.

The iOS 7 update was described as "the biggest change to iOS since the iPhone," by Apple CEO Tim Cook, with an aesthetic revamp – taking the look decidedly more Android – coming alongside a host of new features. Among the most notable was the long awaited iTunes Radio providing users with ad-supported Internet music streaming. The platform allows you to create your own stations, purchase tracks via iTunes, and peruse songs you listened to in the past via the history section, enhancing the musical experience on iOS considerably.

But with our business heads on as ever, we paid keen attention to enterprise-friendly improvements on iOS 7 too, which included better protection of work and personal data, management of app licenses, seamless enrolment in Mobile Device Management, wireless app configuration, enterprise single sign-on support, and default data protection for third-party apps. What’s more, if someone steals your device and turns off "Find My iPhone" or wipes your handset, it will not reactivate unless your Apple ID is entered. A welcome addition to iOS security given the soaring rates of iPhone theft.

Interestingly, a close examination showed many of the changes were quite obviously inspired by features on rival platforms, supporting the notion that Apple is no longer a disruptor doing something radically new, but rather just one of several major forces in a tightly-contested arena. Regardless, it’s the product and iOS 7 itself that matters most just now, so check out to what extent Apple met our hopes and expectations on the update with a retrospective look at our original iOS 7 wish-list.

Storage, cloud, big data. Viva Las Vegas.

While much of the world’s tech press descended on San Francisco for WWDC, a little further inland I touched down in Las Vegas for HP Discover 2013. Hewlett Packard’s annual gathering takes on all segments of business IT, with this year’s Discover driven by the mantra, “It’s time to build a better enterprise.”

The event boasted more than 500 sessions, 285 demos, and over 500,000 square feet of space, and we endeavoured to bring you as much of it as possible via our live coverage page throughout the week. HP had saved up a bevy of launches for the event, with the biggest announcements bringing additions to the firm’s storage, big data analytics, and cloud portfolios.

In storage, the 3PAR StoreServ 7450 broke cover, boasting capabilities of more than 500,000 input/output operations per second, and a response time of less than 0.6 milliseconds. As for big data, a brand new analytics platform known as HAVEn was revealed, boosted by HP's software, hardware, and services technology to bring an extensive set of tools to workplace analysts. And in cloud, HP’s OpenStack-based architecture ran through a revamped private and public Converged Cloud line to give users added flexibility with enterprise-level security and features.

Silicon Valley A-lister and HP CEO Meg Whitman also featured in Vegas, telling a gargantuan keynote theatre on Discover’s opening day that HP now had its house in order after years of turbulence. "We have strengthened our financial position and have stabilised our business," she said. "If you remember nothing else, we are out to be the very best partner out there. We are here to build a better enterprise together with you. Challenge us."

The challenges facing UK startups

You may have noticed our startup hub kicking into life recently on ITProPortal, and the section saw an intriguing new entry this week thanks to James Laird gleaning an insider’s perspective on the UK’s digital economy and the challenges facing fledgling tech companies.

Not long ago, James trotted over to Newport, Wales for Digital 2013. In addition to taking in a fascinating conference headlined by a keynote speech from Sir Terry Matthews, he got the chance to sit down with a range of key UK IT industry figures. One was Tom Kelly, chair of the Welsh government's ICT sector panel and a driving force behind the Digital 2013 event. Steadfast in the belief that Wales has all the necessary ingredients to become a focal point of Britain's wired economy, Tom opined on some of the issues facing the sector going forward - specifically, the shortage of digital skills and the problems facing startup ventures.

“One of the biggest issues that young companies have is that they run out of money, or they can't get access to finance. That in my view is related to the ability to attract a mentor,” Kelly said. “The mentor doesn't have to be an old guy with grey hair. But the mentor has to be there to question. Do what the Japanese say: they reckon if you ask 'why' five times, you eventually get to the kernel of the question.”

Kelly also addressed funding issues, claiming, “There's an immense amount of money available from the EU, but I do fear that some of the money coming in from the EU is not finding its way to the needy. Not the needy in terms of people who are scrimping around, but people who've got the ideas [and] are willing to challenge the status quo."

Follow the link above for more pearls of wisdom on the UK’s digital scene and be sure to check out the rest of our burgeoning startup hub while you’re at it.