Friday, 17 June 2016

WWDC 2016: the most boring Apple conference yet?

Highlights include: 3x bigger emojis, the native ‘Stocks’ app can be deleted, and OS X is now called MacOS!

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is the one of the most anticipated technology conferences every year. It is way bigger than Google I/O and it makes Microsoft’s Build look like a lame nostalgic reunion. The opening event at WWDC is iconic as it is when Apple shows off the next version of iOS to developers and the press. In the past, WWDC has been where products such as the iPhone, the redesigned Mac Pro, and the App Store have been announced as well as many significant upgrades to iOS. However the 110 minute opening presentation hosted by Tim Cook seemed extremely uneventful this year.

The main announcement regarding the Apple Watch was that apps will now load almost instantaneously (7x quicker than in the past, according to Apple) however that was expected in the first version of watchOS and it is embarrassing that it has taken Apple until version 3 to finally do it. This news was met with a surprisingly serious applause from the audience.

The main announcements regarding tvOS and OS X were that OS X is now called MacOS and Siri will be available on both. This isn’t exciting news though if you see Siri as a fun novelty rather than a useful tool - like what I expect most people do.

iOS 10: *yawn*
Apple had taken almost a hour to get onto iOS 10 and I was left with a feeling of disappointment when I learnt that the only major changes were that notifications have been redesigned so you can’t see as many of them on your screen now, and iMessage has turned into a complex multi-media experience with fireworks, scribbles, and emojis that are now 3x bigger.

Most of the keynote seemed to be spent talking about the newly redesigned Maps, Photos, and Music apps which were accompanied by awkwardly long demonstrations. It’s worth pointing out that most of the time when Google redesigns an app, they just release it without having to invite 5000 developers to gasp and applaud at the update in a self-indulgent display of hype building.

The most interesting news from Apple this month wasn’t even from WWDC; it was from a press release a week earlier which stated that they were restructuring the way apps can be purchased on the App Store. In the future, users will be able to subscribe to apps rather than buy them with a one off payment. This is something that will completely change how millions of people use their phones... yet it wasn’t mentioned even once at WWDC.

Maybe the problem is that Apple has just been too good. iOS is on its 10th version now and maybe Apple is running out of creative ideas to redefine smartphone software. So instead they are opting to refine what they already think is perfect and create as much hype about doing so as possible.