Write the code, Change the world is as we now know the very apt description Apple hinted at last night. This was the conference for the developers and the people that put the backbone into what Apple produces, the creatives and creators behind apps that now account for millions in the app store. Hell this was a conference that Apple knows will pull in the eager consumer buyers but when they got to the meaty section of describing their new programming language “Swift” there was even a joke that people at home would not know what the hell they were talking about. still at over an hour and a half into the keynote it’s likely most consumer fans will have become slightly bored and drifted away.
Apple keynotes are regularly becoming a point of confident humour such as the marketing journey (looking for new names to replace Mavericks ) getting a little lost around California and becoming slightly irregular after their visit to Weeds, with a joke aimed at the developers that was met with rapturous applause. Some jokes fell slightly flat but in a 2 hour show not everything will hit the target. Piss take jokes between the Apple team and self piss taking jokes from Craig Federighi with a mashup of his hair and Jony Ive’s face and later him experiencing a hair disaster backstage. Dr Dre. was phoned into via the mac but here was a sense of awkwardness and one that made Dre was now definitely an Apple employee. the conversation seemed rehearsed and not as a conversation would take place. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat at home so god only knows what people in the audience felt.
However, this is not a review of a standup routine, but it is nice to see that Apple can bring the event to life and not be stuffy and overly geeky (Microsoft) or OTT (Samsung)
So what did we get:
As to be expected Tim Cook gave it by the numbers:
- 12% mac growth in a declining PC global market
- In excess of 40 million installations of mavericks since October, the largest in Apple’s history. With more than 50% on the install base working on their latest version of OSX.
- A dig at Microsoft and some may even argue a well placed dig with only 14% of Windows user running the latest version.
The thing is Mavericks was given away free so its no surprise really that so many OSX users are on the latest release. Yosemite, the successor to it will also be given away free, so it will be interesting to see how Microsoft handles this now established free handout by Apple. Its one thing to have the argument over which OS is better, but at the moment if one company is giving away its latest OS then consumers of the other are going to feel somewhat and extremely pissed off if they have to pay yet again to update. Also, if price is a hindrance and if Microsoft continue to courageously plough on with a very different feel to their OS, consumers may not feel much brand loyalty and bugger off to somewhere else.
More of a visual update than anything else to bring it inline with iOS and the flat lines and translucent panels. Guys!! We get it, really we do, enough with the “its translucent and gorgeous” We know, we have heard for over a year and have seen it via iOS so enough already.
Notifications become more iOS like too with a Today view being added to Notification Center, but the big change has been with allowing for third-party widgets and apps. Is this a toe dip into a more customizable future landscape for Apple? Certainly this was a slight change but a welcome one and does hint that if they become more comfortable with how third-party widgets interact with them then more could be seen in years to come.
Spotlight and Safari were updated, but Spotlight is just a handy search tool so I’m bypassing this.
Safari however, has been radically changed with the address bar borrowing from Google with its suggestions of relevant articles from Wikipedia. Share articles is easier and more like the iOS version with a menu popping up of recent contacts for you to share what you want. Tabs, get a translucent feel but if you have multiple tabs open you can smoothly scroll through. maybe its because I use Safari more on my iphone and ipad that when they showed the “birds eye” view of all open tabs I felt a little underwhelmed as if you have these devices you already have seen the feature.
What followed was more interesting; Mail promises ( I will believe this when I see it in action) more reliable syncing across devices, always spot on between iOS devices but awful between iOS and OSX. Markup in mail is a brilliant feature where you can “markup” images straight in the mail message, think Skitch but with limited photo editing features too.
What was impressive was when the hand drawn arrows and speech bubble were recognised by Mail and corrected to look more professional. its a feature that I know I will be definitely using and one that I hope comes to messages in the future.
Maildrop is another feature I know I will use in that it allows you to send messages with attachments up to 5gb in size. basically, you send the mail, the attachment gets moved to iCloud and replaced with a link to it when the recipient opens the mail.
Speaking of iCloud we saw the introduction of iCloud Drive the Apple version of Google Drive, Dropbox etc. Finally Apple are getting nearer to what I want from iCloud, an ability to find my documents through finder including any files from an iOS app. Folders and tags are available as is the ability to sync across Apple platforms but also with Windows too.
Handoff and Continuity
Now here are features that really started to impress me and is Apple directly saying that there is sense and ease of having both iOS and OSX in you life. Start a message/document on one device and when other devices senses the proximity of one device with it it will prompt you to carry on with the message/document there. Smart and simple and hopefully as elegantly simple as it was shown at the keynote.
Airdrop between iOS and OSX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you are going to sell the message of continuity and ease of life between all devices then having the ability to easily share files between a mac and an iphone/ipad was something Apple needed to address and thankfully they have too. Instant hotspots for your mac to use your iphones connection are now an easy feature but what I want to know is will carriers charge more for this data connection if they see it as a hotspot connection as they have been prone to do in the past between mobile devices.
OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD
imessages on my macbook are a feature that I really love but its always been a pain to return to the phone to answer SMS text messages (the sad friends who chat via green bubble) but now through Yosemite macs will have the ability to have these messages shown on screen.
As mentioned at the start of this post, Macs with Yosemite will have the ability to start and receive phone calls with Dr Dre being the embarrassed recipient of such a call. Briefed for the call? Sure was as he did not have to be warned not to swear. Click on a telephone number from a website and away you go, calling on the mac – seamless.
So what we were presented was a very nice update to what had been delivered through Mavericks. This is the start of a tighter link between macs and iOS and does show a clear destiny of them becoming tighter and more closely linked in the future. What is perhaps surprising is that Apple is opening up the beta programme to everyone, public and developers alike. Now I do love my Apple gear but I don’t think I will be rushing to sign up. In my work life I have been part of beta progs before and if you are doing it right its long and often laborious to find and report back all of the glitches that you find.
All pictures from Apple WWDC14 Keynote
Next up iOS 8