Aside from Apple’s hardware unveiling events, the World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) is the big event for Apple. Their pretty hardware can woo all the customers they want but if the software powering them is poor then those products lose the buzz normally attached to carrying an Apple product.
With that said, Apple certainly came into 2015 needing some good answers in response to hard hitting questions like iOS 8’s shoddiness, music streaming dominating the audio listening landscape and the Apple Watch. They did answer a few questions and this article will look at how effective those answers were, particularly for the three big topics of the day.
Apple’s iOS 8 was, from personal experience, the most buggy mobile OS Apple has ever released. From lazy native app resizing to apps closing to transitions taking ages (for an Apple software release), iOS 8 felt like the numerous additions were finally taking their toll on the hardware. In a world where most flagships have 2gb/3gb RAM, Apple has stuck with 1gb but it was okay because of how iOS ran. 2014 proved different so it was positive news for me to hear that iOS 9’s core mission to run smoother and faster than last year and to also run on older hardware exactly like it runs on new hardware (some feature being removed based on hardware limitations of course). Microsoft has aimed to do this and succeeded with Windows Phone for years, so it can be done. Microsoft also has experience in releasing a flop OS (Vista) but managed to win customers over with the follow up so here’s hoping Apple can do the same. Other features like Maps, News, Apple Pay and multi-tasking on the iPad are areas where Apple has managed to catch up to the competition or improve an experience which is usually neglected like News. Formally Newsstand, it has a special place in my ‘Apple Shite’ folder however Apple showed off an app which could streamline my news reading experience instead of having 4-5 apps doing the same job. Good on them for that. Maps gets Transit information that nearly every other platform has had for years (better late than never) but an update is an update. Great.
Regarding productivity over consumption, multi-tasking on the iPad is so overdue. Windows has shown how to do multistasking on tablet/hybrids with Windows 8 and for all its critics, has been the market leader in allowing users to properly multi-task on a computer. Apple’s multi-tasking is not that deep, probably due to the hardware constraints, and instead takes the approach that Samsung takes with its Android tablets and phablets by allowing two apps to be placed side by side and used at the same time. People will mock as usual but if it’s a useful feature, there’s no shame in ‘borrowing’ it to improve an experience on your own platform.
With Google unveiling their Android Pay service and promising to release it worldwide, this was something that had to be echoed by Apple. Already having a reputation for not providing certain services worldwide like iTunes Radio, Apple Pay coming to the UK is huge news (for us here at least) and some of the services being offered here are great too. Paying for transport in London via Apple Pay is a brilliant move and partnering up with multiple banks and thousands of outlets ensures that this won’t be another Ping. On top of that, syncing with the Passbook app on the iPhone means another bit of bloatware gets used which is a good thing because you can’t delete the damn thing!
The latest update for the Apple Watch brought a faster OS that is said to be less buggy and more feature packed. Bringing in customisable watchfaces, permissions to use the microphone and accelerometer for speech and more accurate health/fitness data and finally, proper app support for the Apple Watch rather than glorified app extensions taking its sweet time to stream on your Watch from your iPhone. Does this make me want to buy an Apple Watch? Nope. I would still recommend waiting for the next generation Apple Watch and also keep an eye out for Google’s inevitable ‘Android Wear on iOS’ bombshell which will open up a massive range of smartwatches to iOS. In fact, Android Wear has shown that it is worthwhile waiting a few months to allow a platform to mature, just look at the first Wear watches compared to the most recent… it is night and day folks.
And last but not least, Apple’s competitor to the various music streaming services on the market was unveiled. On the outset, it isn’t much different than its competition with its vast library and price (note… there is not a ad-supported option). Where it does differ is how the content is presented. Drake came out to showcase iTunes Connect, a Soundcloud competitor if you will, showcasing an insight to artists music creating process. I think this has potential to take off if it means Apple Music subscribers get bonus singles, acapella recordings, ideas that artists are coming up with when creating their new album and so on but time will tell. Most of the attention was given to Beats 1, Apple’s worldwide radio station where artists and radio personalities like Zane Lowe, The Weeknd and Drake will provide curated playlists, personally created by themselves. To be honest, it sounds a little gimmicky to me and also forced. Curated playlists like those created by Spotify where the songs liked by the users are used as data to smart engineer a playlist feel much more personal to me and constantly evolving too, in line with tastes in music. Fixed playlists seems a little counter intuitive when a user could easily just make a playlist themselves but time will tell. Overall, as a service it looks like a solid option and a 3 month trial is ample time to make a decision on a service. It could’ve been worse (looking at you Tidal).
What are your thoughts on WWDC 2015, mainly regarding these issues? Has Apple missed a trick somewhere? Feedback is appreciated through the usual channels.