Thoughts on WWDC, Apple Music

Apple had an incredibly successful Worldwide Developers Conference last week, on almost all fronts. From the new keynote venue and Apple Bash, to the reaction of developers, and the software that was announced, Apple did a great job.

What impressed me the most about the updated macOS, tvOS, iOS, and watchOS were all the “little” things. In typical Apple fashion, the company solved real-world problems with a lot of the new features announced during WWDC. The scope of how these features will help us on a daily basis will not be so little, but that’s exactly what makes them so great.

For example, take Single Sign-on which will be part of the new tvOS. This has to be one of the most frustrating experiences with the Apple TV—you have a cable subscription, but you have to authenticate each and every app you download to your Apple TV. That involves going to different web sites, typing in different codes and authenticating every single app.

I’ll be honest, I just gave up. It’s too much of a hassle to be bothered with.

With Single Sign-on, you log-in once to Apple TV and you’re done. The Apple TV will even show you a complete list of all authenticated apps that you can download to your Apple TV. Absolutely brilliant.

Auto Unlock in macOS is another feature that takes away some daily frustration and the tedious entering of the log-in screen password. When you walk up to your computer using your authenticated Apple Watch, you will be automatically logged into your computer. Again, brilliant.

Being able to copy & paste between devices is going to be a huge feature for people like me that use multiple devices throughout the day—iPads, iPhone, and Macs. Continuity is a great for apps, but it’s going to be just as great for features like copy & paste.

Apple Music

The part of the keynote I was looking forward to the most was Apple Music. I was a bit disappointed, to be honest.

What I really wanted from Apple was to have them say they figured out the issues that were causing problems for Apple Music customers. I wanted to know that iTunes Match was fixed and that the promise of Apple Music they gave us last year was finally becoming a reality.

Instead, we got a new interface. One that looks, in places, like a web page loaded without the corresponding CSS. An interface that requires more taps to do simple tasks like “Love” a song or find a genre radio station. For the most part, the interface is more confusing now then it’s ever been.

There is nothing social about the app–they don’t get social at all, and that’s a big problem. There are so many things on the backend and interface that are wrong.

There are some good parts though. Seeing what’s Up Next from the now playing song page is just a quick swipe up–nice change. Apple has made significant improvements in some backend functions, like the curated radio stations, over the past few months, so the Apple Music team deserves a huge amount of credit for that–I’ve really been enjoying Hard Rock radio.

I agree the current interface need some improvements—features like being able to scroll up to see what’s playing next. However, throwing out everything is not the way to go.

Before Apple can fix Apple Music, I think they need to figure out what the hell they want this app to be. I’m convinced they don’t know and that is their biggest problem.

Apple Music clearly isn’t ready to have my full thoughts posted on it yet. I can only think there are many changes coming to Apple Music and it would be unfair of me to say any more until it’s released.

iOS

It’s great that developers can now use Siri to control their apps—that’s long overdue. I do wish we had seen a bit more about what the future holds for Siri, but perhaps another time for that.

News is odd for me. I still don’t get what Apple is trying to do with News. It’s a solution in search of a problem and it doesn’t seem that Apple knows what problem it’s trying to fix.

Apple said they are now offering subscriptions in News, but they tried that with Newsstand and then dumped it. I don’t see how News is any different or how the end result will be any different.

Messages is one of my most used apps on iOS. I use it all day long. I’m not a big emoji talker, but having the option to throw one or two into a conversation will be a fun change. Having the emojis many times their normal size is a great feature for my aging eyes. (I do send smily faces now and then).

Having links show up in Messages as an item instead of a long link is another great addition. It’s just another one of those little things that will make things a lot easier for users. These are the type of features I really like.

For me, one of the most improved apps seems to be Maps. This is a good thing because I use Maps quite a bit. You can now avoid highways and tolls when planning a route, and you can search along a route for points of interest. These are small things, but Maps was lacking without them.

Another great feature in Maps is having developer integration. Being able to book a Lyft or Uber, or book a table at a restaurant from within the app will be big features.

Overall

It was a great week for Apple and developers. Everyone left happy.

The venue for the keynote was great, the sessions seemed to go really well this year, and it was the best Apple bash in recent memory.

Apple’s responsibility at WWDC is to deliver technologies that developers can use to build the next round of great apps. They succeeded in doing that. Apple’s attention on those little features make a huge difference in the way we use the various OS releases. It’s why we continue using Apple products.



  • The sharing to Twitter in Ping worked really well. They need to get back to that, how about embeds to Twitter so 30-second snippets of the song play? Now it just shows artwork and a link to iTunes.

  • Obsidian71

    APFS (Apple Filesystem) is not getting enough attention. People generally understand how important the filesystem is regarding basic features like data protection, file management and encryption. It’s nice to know Apple finally has a replacement for HFS+

    Apple Music – appears designed by people that don’t like music all that much. What I want is both DJ curated lists and crowd sourced curation. Apple is still struggling with music discovery they do a great job marketing the Drakes and Taylor Swifts of the world but they suck at appealing to the person that grew up “crate digging” for obscure but great music. It’s ridiculous that i’ve got to use 3rd party tools to add basic metadata like BPM. Please find someone that loves music and views streaming as just augmentation to a large personal library. Apple’s done as much damage to people’s library as they’ve done good. This is not good.

    Apple TV – I like my 4th gen ATV but it’s not a game changer and many of the apps are bland. There’s no 2nd display features, no webkit, Siri is flakey the remote shatters if you breathe on it too hard.

    Stores – still a bunch silo’d data with varying features across the stores (gifting, wishlist, “download later” etc. Do I need to wait until I have grown grandchildren before I get a cohesive collection of stores? Why can’t I purchase any product from any device?

    Apple’s doing well pushing Swift along and improving developer tools. They’re doing what appears to be a weak job of improving long standing issues with stores, Apple ID management and music. I remain positive the next year should be a good step forward.

  • Caleb Hightower

    Time for Cook to send Cue out to pasture. Give him some sports type project to focus on and quit fucking up everything else he touches!

  • Any word on if single-sign on in AppleTV will be able to be overridden on a per app basis? I’d like to use my sign-on in the single sign-on setting, but use another in an app for a channel I don’t necessarily have. (Don’t judge me! 😉 Actually there are real use cases, but I won’t get into those now.)

  • chr

    Newsstand v News: In my opinion Newsstand’s downfall was its reliance on the publishers’ ability to create a great reading experience in their own apps. Well, most publishers failed and Adobe’s tools to shove print layouts onto iOS screens didn’t help. Paying (in many cases) the full print subscription price for a mostly inferior reading experience didn’t really offset the saved trees and convenience – if you can call a 300mb download for a single issue via 3G onto a 16GB iPad convenient in the first place. I still believe there are people who would pay for quality news content that didn’t spy on them, serve crazy fullscreen-ads and other stuff all the time. Provide a clean interface with lots of my favourite news sources and a simple way to pay and I might just do so.

  • Not sure why Music got so much attention at WWDC? Does it really have anything to do with Developers? Surely it would have been better left for the September event?

    And I don’t care what everyone else on the planet said – that chick made me cringe. Reminded me so much of Cue.