This morning, as I'm sure many of you are well aware, Apple held it's annual WWDC keynote and streamed it live across the internet for those of us who aren't relevant or fortunate enough to attend in person. Normally at the time of day that Apple holds it's keynotes (1pm my time) I'd be in school juggling my "real learning," the keynote stream, and live-tweeting in Twitter all at the same time.
While that kind of frantic excitement can be a lot of fun, I was lucky enough to be at home for today's keynote as most of my classes for the year are done. And I made a conscious choice to just sit, think, and jot down my thoughts on a Field Notes Steno-Pad that was gifted to me by my girlfriend, rather than try and keep up with the various witty quips on Twitter and end up focusing more on live-tweeting than the keynote itself. It was weird not being tuned-in to Twitter at first for an Apple event like this, but overall I think I enjoyed just sitting and thinking with a good coffee and blueberry muffin. Definitely a nice (albeit nerdy) way to spend an early afternoon.
Now, as I'm not a developer or a crazily in-touch analyst, I know that nothing I write here will be the best thing written about WWDC today. So rather than try and create an overly ambitious piece here I'll just leave you guys with a couple brief thoughts about the big points of the keynote. I hope they're half-decent, enjoy.
OS X and iOS:
- OS X clearly took more of a backseat to both iOS and the fledgling watchOS this year. Several small enhancements such as an improved mission control and pinned tabs in Safari made up most of the front-end changes, while iOS's Metal graphics enhancement was brought over to improve performance across the board.
- If I used a Mac more these days I'd be much more excited about pinned tabs in Safari and the performance boost I might see with Metal, but I just don't use my Mac all that often anymore aside from monthly hard backups and the occasional Squarespace formatting.
- Despite rumors suggesting Apple was going to take a more conservative, maintenance-style release year for iOS, there were plenty of new features to be had such as a new search API for developers, Siri taking a more Google-Now-esque approach to proactive assistance, and a whole new suite of iPad-focused multitasking and keyboard features, which all add up to a pretty ambitious release.
- I'm excited to see all of my favorite apps start to take advantage of these new features this fall, while I'm also a bit worried that some of Apple's Google-Now-style features might not work all that well if you don't use their built-in apps, and might fall a bit flat for users like myself that replace a good chunk of the functionality that comes out of the box on the iPhone with third party apps. Despite my worries, I'm sure this fall will be an exciting one as we'll see if Apple is able to keep up the breakneck pace of large new features with the ones in iOS 9.
- After the confirmation at the CODE conference a week or two ago, there was little doubt that Apple's latest platform was going to receive attention at this year's 'dub-dub,' but even still I was surprised at the amount of features that they decided to add and bring back for the 2.0 release of watchOS. New are native apps which come as no surprise, a welcome addition in third party complications, as well as a neat little charging-alarm-clock-mode which will have me changing up how I orient my watch while charging.
- Up until now I've just left the charger rightside-up and the watch facing towards the ceiling, but the smart use of the digital crown and side button as snooze and off controls for alarms makes it a pretty great feature, and I'll try and get used to the new orientation even before this fall's update.
- Back as well are the photo and timelapse watch faces, which I found surprising as they must've been considered too battery-costly since the initial watch announcement last September, but are now being brought back despite that. Apple must be feeling pretty confident about the watch's battery life, and I'd hope we'll see some options to increase the amount of time the watch face can be left on, although that does seem like the sort of feature that would make a lot of sense for next year's rev of the watch.
- Native apps will be a real shot in the arm for the platform as long as Apple can keep performance and battery life under control, and I have to say I'm really psyched for the kind of "real" experiences that developers will be able to create. If WatchKit has been any indication, we're in for a boom of great apps, and I can't wait for the new experiences and complications come fall.
- Apple's big bid into music streaming can probably best be described in the word ambitious. A new Apple Music catalog available for streaming, a 24/7 global internet radio complete with DJ's from all over the world, curated music playlists a la' Beats Music, and ways to follow artists and their updates as they create music and go on tour.
- I've been using Spotify for the past 6 months because it's been the best streaming service so far, but it's done little to endear me to it in that timeframe. I'll definitely be trying Apple's offering when it debuts later this month, and the competitive pricing with Spotify's family plan makes it almost a done deal for me already.
- Also, if I'm being completely honest I'm really looking forward to moving my music library back to an Apple service. It just hasn't felt quite right or integrated properly with a third party.
- First up in today's keynote: that opening video was weird. If you haven't seen any of the keynote yet, stop reading here and go watch the first 2-3 minutes, it's one of the weirder openings to an Apple Event in a long time.
- Another thing of note throughout the keynote was how hard Apple was pushing privacy. I'm assuming in light of recent Google announcements as well as the increasing user tradeoffs to using Google or Facebook online with your data, Apple was absolutely focused on showing that their stance on privacy is consistent across the board.
- Nearly every product or feature announcement today was accompanied by a matching privacy slide letting you know that any data that Apple was taking advantage of to provide functionality was first anonymized, and that none of it would be tied to anyone's Apple ID. I'm happy to see Apple's continued stance on this, and with developments in Apple's own ecosystem as well as third parties I'm glad to not have to rely on Google as much anymore.
Well there you are. Not necessarily quite as "quick" as I'd initially hoped, but those are some consolidated thoughts of mine from this morning's keynote. I'm extremely excited for all the new features coming this fall, and the temptation to install the early betas of iOS 9, OS X 10.11, and watchOS 2.0 is very strong. I'll try and hold out till this June when the public betas go live, but if I can't wait (and that's a distinct possibility) then I'll probably post some rough impressions at some point in my usage. We'll have to wait and see.
So much to wait for, so much to write about. It's gonna be a hell of a fall.
(edit: Thanks to Josh Ginter for pointing out that only a select portion of the iTunes catalog will be available to stream.)