Thoughts on Apple’s WWDC keynote

Apple kicked off its Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday in San Francisco, Calif. While some of the presenters (not mentioning any names)1 weren’t up to the usual Apple polish, the company did introduce some nice updates.

OS X El Capitan

I can’t tell you how happy I was to see Apple talk about performance improvements with the upcoming version of OS X. This is exactly what the operating system needed.

They even did a clever naming trick by keeping the new name for OS X in Yosemite. It reminds me of what they used to do in naming OSes like “Lion” and “Mountain Lion,” with the later being the stability release.

While performance is a main focus of El Capitan, Apple didn’t leave us without new features altogether. Split View looks like it will be a very useful feature for many people including me. While doing research for stories, I’m always going back and forth between apps, pasting information, links, images and other data. Split View will make that whole process much more efficient.

Searching with natural language is another great feature I really like. We’ve become used to asking Siri for things using natural language, so being able to do the same thing with Spotlight seems like the next logical step. I’m betting I’ll be able to find things much quicker, and more accurately then I did before.

I use Notes a lot, so I was happy to see some updates there to make it more useful, but Mail is the app I was really looking to see get fixed. While there are some improvements to Mail, I’m not sure if the main issues with the app not being to connect to the mail servers has been addressed.

iOS 9

There were a lot of improvements announced with iOS 9—improvements that we’ll get to use a lot.

Slide Over, Split View, and Picture in Picture with the iPad are going to make the tablet an even better place to work going forward. These are the types of multitasking features that will push the iPad forward for many users.

I love that Siri is now a proactive assistant, helping you based on where you are and what you are doing. I’ve been using Siri a lot more these days and I like the thought of it becoming more in tune to what I’m doing.

It’s not a big surprise that Apple has renamed Passbook to Wallet, but it is a significant change. With the support from banks and credit card companies over the last year, Apple Pay is on a roll. I use it every chance I get, but not just because it’s a cool way to pay for things, but because it’s secure and easy. That’s the best kind of feature to have to ensure people will keep using it.

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I get News and why Apple did it, but perhaps when I use it, it will become clear to me.

There are a lot of changes in iOS 9, like Maps, that are great to see, as well. We’ll have time to go over all of those before the operating system is released to the public.

Apple Music

I want this to work. I’m invested in buying all of my music from iTunes and I want a service from Apple that I can use. Is Apple Music that service? I’m not sure.

I had a look at the service and it works quite well. Certainly better than iTunes Radio and different from Beats, but I’ll have to use it some more before I can make a solid recommendation on whether or not it will be useful long term.

It took some of the features from Beats and put an Apple polish on them, which is a good thing. Apple’s problem with music in the last few years had nothing to do with polish though, it was functionality.

That’s the wildcard here. Will it work.

For developers

WWDC is not a consumer conference, it’s a developer conference. Many of the cool apps we will see in the coming months is because of what happens here this week.

The developers I spoke with are really happy with what Apple has done with OS X and iOS 9. They have new ideas for apps using the underlying technologies that Apple provides for them. That means great things for us all.

Apple’s responsibility is to provide developers with the best tools they can, allowing them to make great apps that we can buy. From what I’ve seen and heard, Apple has done that.

iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan are steps forward for what we’ll be able to do in the future with our devices. Apple Music holds some promise—we’ll see how that works out.

  1. Please Apple, don’t let Jimmy Iovine on stage again. Or at least, make him rehearse. 

  • Obsidian71

    Apple Music looks to have a bit of brain drain going on. Heard the world revolutionary used far too much for something that really doesn’t bring that much different to the table.

    For me its about the basics. Split View is nice but i’m convinced that mobile devices are just too limited to really make use of multitasking properly.

    Metal on Mac should help a lot. And App Thinning is going to directly address a “Huge” (see what I did there?) problem with app size.

    I give WWDC a solid “B” grade. If I see more stability in CloudKit, more functionality with Extensions (love the Audio Unit support) and these little things that show polish I’ll be more than pleased with my next phone upgrade.

    • Herding_sheep

      I saw quite a bit different with Apple Music than something like Spotify. For one, it has the human curation aspects of Beats Music. A 24 hour real live radio station headed up by Zane Lowe. That’s a big deal to me. Zane Lowe is absolutely brilliant at what he does. And then it has all the core elements of Ping, completely rethought and polished from the ground up. And all of this in a single app, a single destination for music. A song you’re looking for (like current streaming services), what’s new in music, real radio shows worldwide 24/7, and what’s happening with your favorite artists and what they’re working on.

      Doesn’t sound like any other “streaming” service to me. It really does sound like what they say it is. One “complete thought” around music. Something fully realized and executed around music culture. It goes far beyond Beats Music, putting various ideas and experiments into a single polished package. Not a separate app, but your default Music app.

      • rogifan

        Hi Eddy.

      • ChuckO

        I agree. It’s just not necessarily obvious to the typical distracted person. Even if they focused on Beats1 and curated playlists there’s a good chance they wouldn’t see the value and maybe there isn’t any as it still isn’t out yet. I feel like that’s something word of mouth is going to be essential for it to blow up.

        Biggest mistake to me was not being ready to launch after the keynote.

        • Tom_P

          Yep. That’s the biggest disappointment. All the teasing and we have to wait until the end of June.

    • David Robeson

      Agreed re: the word revolutionary, they use it too much for everything. If I had my way I’d impose a 2-year moratorium on their use of that word. Then I’d hand them a thesaurus and say, “I can’t wait to see what you do with it.”

      • ChuckO

        Either I’ve grown immune to them or there were far less self-celebrating superlatives hurled around the stage this year.

      • Mark Cormack

        “Then I’d hand them a thesaurus and say, “I can’t wait to see what you do with it.””

        Cracking last line, everyone else pack up your stuff, go home. This guy just won the internet

  • Brandon

    The improvement in iOS9 I am looking forward to is the two finger scrolling. It’s one of those “Why didn’t someone think of this earlier!” solutions.

    I am hoping this will work in VNC and screen sharing applications as I have yet to see any good way of controlling a mouse in these applications (not talking about remote mouse type apps).

  • StruckPaper

    “don’t let Jimmy Iovine on stage again.” Ditto goes for Drake and the likes of him. I still think Drake negotiated for this when choosing AM over Tidal.

    • Jacob Varghese

      It was painful to watch the Apple Music presentation. Those two were horrible. Eddie Cue came across as too dad like. They should have let Trent Reznor do more and/or Dre.

      • ChuckO

        Eddie Cue is our collective embarrassing Uncle.

        • Moeskido

          He’s in good company, considering all the goofy jokes Federighi seems committed to.

    • Wibble

      The Apple Music section of the presentation was painful to watch. Clearly not rehearsed and just slovenly.

      Lets hope the service surpasses the introduction fodder.

  • Herding_sheep

    What was wrong with Jimmy Iovine? I thought he did fine. His portion seemed to come more from himself off-the-cuff, rather than some overly rehearsed, prepared statement. Felt more genuine.

    Then again, it seems like I’m one of the few in the tech community who actually knew who Iovine was before Beats/Apple, and have long respected him.

    • ChuckO

      I’m always trying to figure out if he’s still on the Bolivian marching powder or if he was just on it so long he can’t lose the behaviors? The nervous body language, incessant sniffling. He totally f-d up the “it’s three things” part.

      I like what he has to say but I feel like he has the demeanor of a street hustler trying to sell the Brooklyn bridge.

      • dreyfus2

        Not sure, but I think the laughter about the iPhone introduction similarity irritated him a bit. Obviously he was not aware of it. Somebody should have prepped him better.

        • ChuckO

          Doesn’t really matter but I suspect he just doesn’t (didn’t) know how to deliver it more than not being prepared.

      • im going to guess you havent done a lot of stage work. it’s nerve inducing, to be up on stage in a huge venue in front of thousands of people, trying to act natural. everything you described can be attribute to this, and it takes years of experience to get over it.

        these presenters are just men & women, not gods, not moviestars.

        • marcintosh

          I get what you’re saying, so I’m not going to proofread your post and reply with corrections.

    • dreyfus2

      I am in the “not having heard of Iovine before” camp myself (to be honest, Trent Reznor was the only “celebrity” there I have ever heard of), and I have to fully agree with you. That was refreshing, genuine and relatively buzzword and exaggeration-free. No complaints here either,

      • ChuckO

        He’s most famous as a recording engineer and producer. He worked on Born To Run and Damn The Torpedoes amongst a whole lot more famous albums.

        • rb763

          Ha Ha, those two are famous enough for me.

          • ChuckO

            Sorry, meant a lot more famous albums not albums that were more famous than Born to Run and Torpedoes.

          • rb763

            Got it now, thanks! 🙂

    • StruckPaper

      It only seems like you are one of the few in tech who knew Iovine because you want to believe yourself as cool. His portion does NOT look at all like it was off-the-cuff. There’s nothing off the cuff about checking the teleprompter repeatedly. Worse than that, he said nothing of significance. He was an utter embarrassment.

      • James Hughes

        While what you say about Iovine may or may not be true, it’s your opinion of course. But saying that “herding sheep” is saying what he said to simply be “cool” is an unnecessary insult. Disagree if you will, but I see no need for a direct insult.

      • Tom_P

        “utter embarrassment”? He did miles better than Tim Cook on his first keynote. Gives him a break.

  • monkeyrun

    After WWDC “Revolutionary” became a joke.

    • Tom_P

      I feel that the one who can use it and get away with it was only Steve Jobs.

  • I’m betting I’ll be able to find things much quicker, and more accurately then I did before.


  • So most of the buzz is about how terrible the end was. Is this completely overshadowing the fact that Swift is now open source?

    Isn’t this a pretty big deal? No? Sure seemed like it from the applause.

    • It is a big deal – to the audience of developers. But it’s not to the vast consumers out there – which is who Apple Music is targeted to.

  • JF

    Presentation issues aside (Iovine was kinda awkward, what did Drake have to say exactly?), the Apple Music thing was not that great.

    Bragging about a global radio station like there are no others and how revolutionary that is. I mean, really? Is it because they broadcast from 3 locations? I mean, yeah, ok, it’s nice and cool to have a radio station – but yeah, whatever. Kinda bugs me it will have a prominent place in the Music app.

    Connect. Presenting it like artists don’t already have Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Smells like Ping all over again, unless they move very aggressively. Now that is something I do not want to see in my Music app. But it has to be all-in-one place!

    The streaming thing is cool. Spotify is cheaper though (in Europe at least), and has even cheaper deals with carriers at some countries, so it may be hard to compete to (they also sent me 2 months free trial one week ago – proactive much?). Kudos for the family plan price as well. Too bad they failed to mention if it’s gonna include the whole iTunes catalog (probably because it won’t). And nowhere to be found exactly in which countries it will be available at launch.

    In other news, solid work on OS X, iOS and Swift! They are really into great stuff!

    • “Presenting it like artists don’t already have Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.”

      That’s Apple’s point – artists won’t have to use all those separate and disparate services.

      “Too bad they failed to mention if it’s gonna include the whole iTunes catalog (probably because it won’t).” They did mention it and it will, save for certain artists, like the Beatles, who won’t allow it. But the vast majority will be able to be streamed.

      “which countries it will be available at launch.” We’ll find out on June 30th.

      • JF

        Thanks for the reply, Shawn. Some extra thoughts on Apple Music…

        My point with Connect (and Beats 1) was mainly the presentation: making it look like nothing like that has been already present. I do get the “one service for all your needs” but it’s not gonna drive artists away from Facebook or Soundcloud any time soon – it’s gonna be one more service to curate for people who do that job. The presentation on the (kinda slow) website emphasizes too much on how artists will interact directly with me, the fan. Am I supposed to believe this? Do I feel the distance between Pharrell and myself on Instagram and somehow Connect will bring us closer? No. Do people want to see a feed with updates exclusively from music artists? Hmm, I don’t think so, but I may be proven wrong.

        Finally, I’m not quite sure how the vetting process is gonna work for unsigned artists; we’ll have to wait and see. Right now, if I want to manage an Apple Music artist account, the artist has to be present in iTunes store. And what if I represent an indie label and some artists non-exclusively? With e.g. Soundcloud, whoever I may be, I can create an account in 1 minute and I’m ready to upload and share. In a similar manner, with Bandcamp I create an account in 1 minute and I’m ready to upload, share and sell! Yes, those are “separate and disparate” services, but they feel more friendly and easy, while Apple Music may appeal to more established artists and their fanbase.

        Don’t get me wrong, it looks well thought and implemented (definitely better than Ping) but I don’t think it offers neither anything new or exciting to me as a fan, nor anything new or groundbreaking to the artists (established or aspiring ones). I hope it catches on, cause I like Apple and its good design.

  • Tom_P

    I think Jimmy Iovine doing alright.