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.