WWDC 2015 Thoughts

As I write this, I am only about 1 hour fresh off the WWDC 2015 keynote. As a developer, this is definitely my favorite Apple keynote of the year. Last year was the first time I can remember, that Apple did not introduce any new hardware at WWDC. That’s mostly because they didn’t have to, as they had their announcement filled with exciting new software. I wasn’t expecting any hardware announcements this year, and once I saw Phil Schiller sitting in the crowd, that pretty much sealed it.

What I was expecting was a more polished OSX, with a bunch of stability improvements, the next version of iOS, and of course watchOS improvements. I also knew there would be some announcement around Music, but I didn’t really care about that. There are so many different music streaming services and apps out there, I couldn’t really see Apple doing anything different in this space.

OSX EL Capitan (10.11)

Apple did announce the next version to OSX, El Capitan. El Capitan is to Yosemite what Snow Leopard was to Leopard. That is, El Capitan is a small polish of Yosemite, with a few feature enhancements and some performance tweaks. Some people on Twitter were upset that they didn’t talk about stability, but I don’t think they ever wanted to admit publicly that Yosemite was unstable.

The features they showed were fairly basic, but nice. There are improvements to window management, Spotlight is a lot more powerful, and there are some full screen workflow fixes. There are of course hundreds of other small API fixes, but the message is speed and polish with this release.

iOS 9

I don’t know why we need a new complete iOS version every year. It would actually make more sense to stop and let the iPhone number catch up to the iOS version. iOS 9 has two main parts, iPhone improvements and iPad improvements.

The iPhone improvements were fairly minor. There is a new Notes app which is very overdue. The new app allows you to add checklists, change fonts, add rich media like photos and videos, and even bookmarked pages. There is a new app from Apple called News, which is essentially Flipboard, but done Apple’s way, and of course will only be updated once a year. Passport is being renamed to Wallet, which I think better describes what the app does.

The iPad is where all the new excitement is. Multitasking has finally been added to the iPad. You will now be able to run apps side by side, and use information between the two for context. The demo of this was a little boring, until Craig Federighi opened a video, and then started multitasking. The video was resized into the corner, and it continued to play, and you could use whatever app you wanted. This is so powerful, and it will really be an improvement to my workflow on the iPad.

I think the multitasking will only get better and more powerful over time, and it is now clear why Apple made the iPad Air 2 so much more powerful then it needed to be at the time. The iPad Air 2 is the only iPad that is powerful enough to run the multitasking, so that might be a reason to finally upgrade those old iPads this fall. I also think this now opens the door to a larger sized iPad, although I still have my doubts if there is really a market for a larger iPad.

watchOS 2

I hated writing that sub-heading. This really should be watchOS 1.1. There is nothing major added to the watch right now, and I have a hard time calling this watchOS 2, when watchOS 1 has only been out for 2 months. Why is Apple starting the numbering confusion so early? So the Apple Watch 1 will run watchOS 2, so will the Apple Watch 2 run watchOS 3? Can we take a direct route back to simple, or do we have to change planes in Denver?

Apple Music

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Apple developer keynote, where the “One more thing…” announcement caused so much grumbling by the developers in attendance. There is nothing about Apple Music that is unique, special, and I am really disappointment by their “old school” approach to this problem. Jimmy Iovine said that Apple Music is really three things. That was kinda an awkward moment, as he didn’t realize the reference to the original iPhone announcement. Let’s break down the three things.

Revolutionary Music Service: How is this revolutionary? I’ve been listening to music bought through iTunes on my device for years! Do you mean the streaming service? How are you any different from Spotify or Rdio? If someone has any thoughts on how this isn’t a “me too” product, please let me know.

24/7 Global Radio (Beats One): Radio has been dying for years, because people don’t want to listen to music picked by someone else, in a pre-determined order. So why do they think this would be a great feature? Are you going to turn into Sirius XM now? I can’t imagine myself listening to this service, when I have an unlimited catalogue of music available to me through iTunes and Spotify.

Apple Music Connect: Apple has never done social well. They tried this exact concept before; does anybody remember iTunes Ping? Artists already have an area to reach out to fans, it’s called Twitter. Some use it sparingly, and some artists are on it all day. Other people have tried to make dedicated social networks for artists, and failed, because the people didn’t flock to them. I don’t think Apple is learning from their own history here, and I wonder how long before this project is axed.

Overall I think Apple Music will do well, but that ‘s mostly because of the amount people have invested in their iTunes libraries and the Apple ecosystem. It will not succeed because of unique features and content, and I will not be dropping my Spotify subscription anytime soon.

Swift Goes Open Source (and version 2.0)

I jumped on the Swift bandwagon early on, as I thought it was a great idea, and had some exciting possibilities. I’m glad the Swift team hasn’t taken their foot off the accelerator and kept working hard on the language. I’m going to be writing more Swift this year, and I’m looking forward to it’s move to open source. I’m a little concerned about the “late 2015” timeline. Apple has a history of promising open, and never following through (Facetime was supposed to be open).

Overall Impression

This year’s keynote was pretty much what I expected. We knew going in that the Apple TV was delayed, and there weren’t really any other big rumours leading up to the keynote. It’s really hard to follow up a year like last year, where we got an entire new language, iOS 8 with extensions, and Yosemite with a whole new design. Apple needed to do something lower key, and let it’s engineers work out some bugs, and tweak some existing settings.

I didn’t get to go to WWDC this year, and I think this was the right year to miss. I am starting to think the music presentation was inserted to fill in the delayed Apple TV announcement.  Either way, we still have a few more Apple keynotes before the year is over. I am hoping to win that lottery next year, and find myself in that keynote room, watching some exciting stuff in 2016.

Comments

  1. Disappointed in the lack of progress on the Apple TV. This is an opportunity for Apple to take “a giant step for humanity” and lift us above the horrible experience that has become network/cable TV.
    Still don’t get the Watch being a game changer, and not tuned in there, but think the Music streaming initiative will pay off. While Pandora and Spotify both have a large user base, Apple has a cult following that, coupled with iTunes success, will move them to the fore in this offering. Given their might and clout, they could squash the competition like a bug, but will more likely just make it evolve into another endless cash cow

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