”Hello WWDC2016”

I was extra-active on Twitter before WWDC started. From everything I tweeted, I’d like to highlight two. First:

Theory on the current ‘Hello X’ marketing: new programming paradigm (Playgrounds for iPad?) that brings Apple more developers.

Second:

If memory serves right, the last time Apple invited non-Apple centric Youtubers was at the launch of the Watch
Maybe this WWDC really is big

‘Big’ it was, but I think I — and maybe others — were expecting a small amount of monolithic changes. Instead, I would summarise WWDC 2016 as being a lot of new changes/features across the small-to-huge spectrum, spanning Apple’s entire expanse. I had a feeling Apple would focus on only three of their four OSes (my guess was tvOS would’ve been skipped) but that wasn’t the case. Here’s my thoughts in a rough chronological order:

watchOS = 3.0

  • watchOS’s redesign is now a way more familiar for iOS users.
  • When Stacey demoed watchOS’s new features she did her job like a pro. This was her first appearance at the WWDC keynote and she didn’t look like it at all. She delivered with confidence and passion.
  • The segment of watchOS 3 dedicated to users in a wheelchair filled me with joy. ‘Time to stand up’ changed to ’Time to roll’. It’s such an Apple thing to care for differently abled users even though they make up a minority of their user base. To add to the joy, I loved the icon they showcased 2  while talking about these changes: A person in a wheelchair leaning forward. I thought that was a positive, cheerful and an all-around excellent icon.
  • The Watch is being pitched to become a more integral part of your life and watchOS 3 shows all signs of that happening.

tvOS++  //version: 10

  • I don’t have a lot to say here except maybe about Eddy Cue’s demeanour. It’s probably just me but Cue seemed a little sombre? It may just be the time constraint but he just seemed off his game, somehow. Eddy’s…cue also seemed a little odd when the presenter before him said ‘the one and only Eddy Cue’. The App Store bloomed under Schiller and Cue’s caught flack for his goofiness in his past presentations. I could just be correlating here. Onwards…

let macOS = copy(&OS_X)

  • Did anyone else notice the fact that Federighi was wearing what seemed like the same deep-blue coloured shirt as the WWDC marketting background?
    His performance was flawless and he seemed to be in control throughout. The man and his words carried weight and authority — almost like Tim Cook. Apart from a little slip-up at the very end of his iOS segment (something to the effect of ‘…but…we do have one more thing’ which then led to a video for iOS; I call it a slip-up because ‘one more thing’ holds meaning in Apple’s culture and I think a passing expression on Federighi’s face revealed that he realised his mistake) I think he did a terrific job.
  • I haven’t seen people take too highly to system-wide tabs on macOS but I think those people are also the ones who own iMacs. I own a 13-inch retina MacBook Pro and I use tabs all the time and everywhere I possibly can. Maybe there’s some correlation between bigger screens and appreciation of tabs?
  • I, and people on Twitter, made the apparent Sierra-Siri connection. Note that the Federighi was on such a schedule he didn’t even talk about which key he was pressing to trigger Siri.
  • When Twitter came to know about Apple’s new filesystem — APFS — there were a lot of John Siracusa pictures (ding ?). I’m very interested in knowing more.
  • Veterans understandably dislike the change of name but I think new-timers — like me — should find no problem. ‘macOS’ rolls off my keystrokes because the majority of my typing throughout the day is Swift code and it relies heavily on Camel Case. I like the new name. OS X seemed, to me, vintage and classy; macOS is modern and crisp.

iOS = 10.0 + growth(SIRI + 3DTouch)

There’s a lot to talk about here, let’s start at a meta level. If you recall, when Craig Federighi spoke about iOS 7 at WWDC 2013 he said it’s like a new phone but one that you instantly know how to use. iOS 10 is a major overhaul to the iOS design and interaction paradigm. Going from iOS 6 to iOS 7 I knew my way around the OS. With iOS 10 something as instrumental as ‘Slide to unlock’ has been re-thought. Now, I need to put in conscious effort to not press the power-button to wake my iPhone since the display is already on by the time I pick it up — following tradition would just have me put the phone back to sleep.

Obviously there’s a long way to go with the Betas until (presumably) September so I’ll tone down the iOS-specific commentary. Before I start with my observations, I’d like you to keep a key detail in mind, referenced from Neil Cybart’s tweet:

Less home button, more swiping.

Will be very useful when the new iPhone in 2017 lacks the home button.

It’s important to keep an iPhone sans-home button in context when reviewing iOS 10. On with the observations:

  • iOS 10: 10 new features. My feeling was: Apple has advanced so much over the years on all axes and yet the ‘No big deal, just 10 new features’ narrative that Jobs pioneered lives on through Apple keynotes. I thought it was an homage to a legacy.
  • Previously, iOS housed Siri and 3D Touch, now iOS is driven by Siri and 3D Touch. The new visual language seems to be all 3D Touch driven. I think it may even solve a lot of the discoverability problems 3D Touch faced until now where people just didn’t know where 3D Touch could be used.
  • Following closely with my previous point, iOS 10 seems to be laying a lot of groundwork for the future (the same way Auto Layout did for iPad multi-tasking) with 3D Touch and Siri. This is where, I think, Apple is preparing users for an iPhone without the home button.
  • iOS seems like it’s borrowing design from the Watch (the Watch becomes iOS-y and iOS becomes Watch-y).
  • The redesigned News icon seems native to a 3D Touch environment. (Here’s hope we get News in India).
  • ”Hello strutting…okay?”: Bozoma Saint John has made a bigger splash on the Internet than Apple Music — the app she was on stage to demo — or even Eddy Cue. The instant I saw her walk on stage, I noticed the pink she wore and instantly thought of Eddy Cue’s iconic pink shirt. Further, John made a few comments along the lines of ‘I can jam along but I know you are developers so you can explore [said feature] at your disposal’ 1 and that, to me, was a clear nod to last year’s terrible Apple Music presentation.
    I, personally, wasn’t a big fan of John’s segment but it’s hard to argue against its brilliance.
  • iMessage, Apple Maps and Photos all seem to embody a general direction of Apple doing everything others have done and executing it in true Apple fashion. The word ‘humane’ keeps coming to mind whenever I think of the iOS segment. Everything from iMessage animations to the little demo of auto-generated videos from your photo library (I think they were called Memories) seemed to embody Apple’s understanding of the human nature and empathise with and build for human emotions.
    Another example is Federighi seemed to deliberately not use Google-speak such as ‘contextually-aware-deep-machine-neural-yabberjabber-vector-accelerated-learning’ and instead stick with the humane, ‘Siri’, instead.

miscellany()

  • Right before WWDC, I was contemplating last year’s WWDC — the Apple Music segment in particular — and how non-developer oriented it was. I made the connection with WWDC from two years ago where Tim Cook said ‘and for those of you who don’t know, the SDK is the Software Development Kit…’ and then with Federighi saying — in the same keynote, after announcing Swift — ‘You know how many people are sitting at hime thinking ‘what in the heck are these guys talking about?’’.
    Maybe WWDC truly is, by a large margin, no longer a developer-only event. Apple has data on how many non-developers watch WWDC the numbers by which they exceed developers. Maybe a growing number of non-developer, non-tech people was exactly what made Apple justify last year’s Music segment. Not the make excuses for its turd-iness but I think it’s a little detail the tech-folk should keep in mind while judging WWDC.
    (I think Cook even mentioned this time: ‘millions watching at home’).
  • I was actually jumping around like a lunatic in my little apartment when Cook announced Playgrounds for iPad. My theory on the WWDC marketting turned out right too. Apple wants more developers for its platforms because it has more platforms than ever and it needs to make more money from its existing customer base as it pushes into services. And on that note, Apple’s pushing discoverability of developer’s apps very heavily too. From prompts for downloading apps through iMessages, adding (poorly designed) share buttons to 3D Touch app-shortcuts, to announcements such as a new way to live stream your game play to compatible clients announced at the State of the Union for extending the reach of said game.

 

I was very happy with this year’s WWDC. My first take on the iOS redesign isn’t entirely positive but I realise a big part of that is because I’m so used to the traditional iOS 7 design. I keep posting my thoughts on the iOS 10 beta on Twitter and there’s more good than bad but I’ll reserve judgement on it until later.

I feel like I am closer to WWDC 2016’s target audience that WWDCs of the past. My time as a Swift programmer (or with any modern programming language, for that matter) barely scratches the surface. I can’t entirely operate Xcode’s debugger but working with closures has me grinning internally. Here’s to new possibilities: “Hello humanity”.

 

UPDATE: Apple’s posted the keynote on YouTube.


  1. I can really suck the life out of it, can’t I? ↩︎
  2. The person-in-wheelchair is actually Apple’s version of the Accessible Icon Project. H/T: Joe Cabrera on Twitter ↩︎

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka