Well its been almost a week since the keynote and by now iOS8 has been ripped apart by eager developers and people with more brains and talent of tinkering with a beta release. This is perhaps more polite than me saying that they have far more time on their hands than I do to get to that level of tinkering. Hey, if I wanted to tinker I would be an Android man through and through.
Huge for Developers. Massive for everyone else
In my own personal view Yosemite was the main star of the keynote and in general Apple is now making the mac the centre point. Previously, with an iOS you could live quite happily with just the phone or the iPad, what computer you had had very little to do with these handsets.
But now with airdrop, icloud drive and continuity/handoff working between iOS8 and Yosemite its almost like just having the mobile handset will not be enough and there will be a fairly obvious hole if you don’t own a mac and this is I guess Apple’s strategy for the long term as it does make ruddy good sense.
Also, when they demoed the mac calling out and the messages app the phone was made to feel very much the poor relation in that the poor once lauded device was considered ok to be left in a bag or away from the mac, so long as the mac could take a connection to it.
This year though iOS8 could not be as big as iOS7 was last year. 2013 was a complete redesign whereas 2014 is seeing an evolution of the look, feel and functionality.
So what did we get that really really matters to most and as I’m writing this what really really matters to me? Yes, spotlight may be a nice feature but its not what interests me the most. Messaging, however is getting to the point of playing catchup to other messaging apps which did result in sour messages coming out of Whatsapp and Snapchap. Understandable from their point of view but I’m not the right age group for snapchat and whatsapp lives unloved on my iPhone as my friends and I are too lazy to use it, sms/imessage rules or Facebook messenger dominate. This is the other thing in the UK in that we largely have very generous text/calling plans with most contracts giving unlimited text and calls per month so the question of having to use another message app rarely comes up. I accept though that messaging apps will have a sweet point per age group and demographic but what Apple has managed to do with iOS8 and messages is to streamline the process. Being able to tell photos and messages to self destruct is the reason Snapchat whinged loudly, but if you look into it, messages actually take one hell of a lot of space up on your phone and unless you clear them out regularly, the phones memory will get eaten up. Self destructing although is a mimicking stance of snapchat, does actually have a sensible purpose.
It now handles easy threads in group messages, voice messages in a push to talk kind of way.
Sharing of location for a set time is a really convenient feature too. How many times have I lost my friends around London when I am trying to meet up with them. This takes the find my friends function and puts it in a viable and useful function.
So what does a messaging app also need for keyboard warriors? Well for a start and with a huge nod to Android, Apple opens up iOS8 to third party developers, so hello swift key and other keyboards that confound me. Thankfully, Apple have seen my fear in this and have updated their own keyboard to become more intelligent with a learning system that knows (how successful this will be remains to be seen)how you interact with different people and can adapt the suggestions to your prose.
In iOS8 messages are able to be accessed from the notification screen with access either via the swipe from the top or from the centre of the screen if you dictate where you want your notification to appear.
Photos and the camera function get better editing features that we have seen with camera+ for years.
Light balance and colour saturation levels are baked into the camera and photos app and with the developments in iCloud drive,
Apple handling your own photos will be set as the main location.
I have a wife and a child. Finally, we get what iOS owners have been asking for years and thats the Family Sharing feature in iOS8 in which up to 6 family members can share iTunes purchases provided the purchases are linked to one bank account. Kids can now request through the store a parents permission to buy an app so no more vocal pleading but a polite message to win little hearts and minds or crush them and save your bank account the hammering its going to get.
Healthkit & Homekit
What perhaps was really interesting is that this is THE iOS for developers. Both Health and Home get their own API kits and all Apple is doing is creating the safe playground for others to come and develop their hardware and apps in. All healthkit does is take data from other apps and present it in a central format.
However, this is the bit that made little sense for me in much the same way passbook has in the past. As readers of this blog will know I am a fan of Withings and their Health Mate app. At the time of the keynote, Withings were not mentioned so I for one am interested to see how this develops.
Thats about it for iOS8 or at least the parts that are easily accessible to normal everyday users. However, Apple brought so much more to the conference that as usual were not mentioned.
Metal and Swift
So Metal is a new technology that aims to significantly reduce the demands put on the A7 processor by the OpenGL 3D graphics standard.
But while it looks amazing the part that frustrates me and makes very little sense to me is that surely the next iPhone will have an A8 chip and therefore presenting Metal, the new technology, running on an old processor makes very little sense. Give us more common sense Apple, we all know that iOS8 will launch in the fall and will launch on the next iterations of iPhone and iPad so showing what Metal can do on the A7 is a daft thing to do. Tease us, showcase the hint of what Metal can do with the A8. Movie companies are increasingly giving trailers of trailers and making audiences excited that way. Please take note of this and next year tease the hell out of me, you naughty minx.
So Swift, ah Swift, the code that Apple toyed with us about. Swift, the source of Apple and developers sharing a smug (rightly so) joke at the expense of the consumer side of the audience who were lost at the start of the introduction to the new programming language.
What will it mean for new apps, with the power of Metal assisting I really don’t know but as I predicted a few months ago we are heading fast into the realms of console quality games on a mobile device. I was deliberating over purchasing a Sony PSP or Nintendo 3DS but now I’m not sure. Convergence came a few years ago with phone and music player and then mobile computing but now we are at the dawn of console gaming being added to the convergence.
So thats it for WWDC14. Apple showed flare, humour and a confidence that had been absent for a while. Some developers will feel ripped off but others will see the new potential and money making opportunities that Apple is offering them. Yes iOS 8 will work on my iPhone 5 but I’m due an upgrade this year and I can’t wait to see how it looks on a hopeful bigger screen.