As last year, I’m presently sitting on the plane reflecting on how WWDC week went.
In many ways, WWDC is one of the highlights of my year. I get to spend time with my friends — many of them dear friends — that I don’t get to see often. I get to learn about platforms I’m passionate about. I get to be rejuvenated and find my enthusiasm again. It’s always a blast.
This year brought new ideas and behaviors, as well as a continuation of some of the things I love best about WWDC. My immediate reactions were captured on this week’s ATP, which was recorded Monday evening.
With the conference behind me, I have a few more thoughts.
Last year I wrote about a newfound feeling of cooperation with Apple:
Apple’s tone — or perhaps their spirit — was more than just confidence. It was also about cooperation. The spirit of WWDC 2014 was about doing things together.
So many of the features Apple released were about fixing problems that face all developers in their platform, of all sizes. Improvements in iOS 8 and OS X aren’t about giving gifts to the huge corporations. Smaller developers also reap the benefits of all of the same new features and tools.
This year, that continued, but in a new and unexpected way.
I had the pleasure of attending The Talk Show Live this year, as I have every year I’ve been to WWDC. It’s always a blast. Given last year’s guests were so great, no one was sure who would join John Gruber on stage this year.
When Phil Schiller walked on stage, every mouth in the room dropped. The Apple we know doesn’t do this.
As Marco said:
That [Apple & Schiller] agreed at all is a noteworthy gift to this community of long-time enthusiasts, many of whom have felt under-appreciated as the company has grown.
It was a really phenomenal event I was very glad to be able to witness. It meant a lot to me as both a commentator and a developer to see Apple make that step. I hope that Phil’s appearance on The Talk Show was the sign of things to come, rather than a wonderful anomaly.
Apple’s watchOS announcements were a mix of the expected and the unexpected. Developers will now be able to run apps native on the Watch, as opposed to having to phone home to the iPhone for all functionality. This was expected.
Unexpected, however, was Apple announcing APIs to allow for creating third-party complications. They gave me the gift I’ve been asking for. I’m super excited about this, and will be spending the rest of the plane dabbling with some ideas I’m kicking around in my head.
iOS got quite a bit of love — particularly iPad. I’m excited about some of the changes coming to the iPad, though not as excited as some are.
Despite multitasking being quite neutered on older devices, I quickly installed iOS 9 Beta 1 on my beloved but nearly two year old “RetinaPad Mini”. I’ve been playing around with Slide Over and Picture in Picture, and both are excellent. Clearly a lot of work has gone into this beta, and it has more polish than we tend to expect from Beta 1.
A great example is PIP. I made a low-fidelity GIF to demonstrate:
Note that the video will dance up and down in order to prevent the dock from being occluded. Nice touch.
Additionally, iPad now has far more robust support for keyboard shortcuts when using an external keyboard. Though I often travel with my laptop, on occasions when I don’t have my laptop with me, I usually take my iPad with an Apple Bluetooth Keyboard. Having shortcuts like ⌘-Tab will be hugely useful.
The Mac also got some welcome improvements. The forthcoming El Capitan includes a lot of nice touches, such as also supporting Split View, like the iPad. Much in the same vein as the dancing PIP player, El Cap gets touches such as cursor improvements. When you shake your mouse in order to find where your cursor is, it pulls a page from Bruce Banner’s playbook and gets quite a lot bigger. Another nice touch.
The new Notes app also looks really impressive, and I’m anxious to try it out, since I’m in many ways falling out of love with Evernote.
Otherwise, El Cap focuses largely on stability and performance improvements, which is welcome.
Despite a terrible taste left in my mouth from the exceptionally awkward end of the keynote, I’m anxious to look more into Apple Music. As a devout Spotify user, I’m not sure if I will find much appealing about Apple Music. However, I do trust Apple in this department, and I’ve heard regularly how great Beats Music is. I’m anxious to give it a shot.
In a lot of ways, this year’s WWDC was the yang to 2014’s yin. Last year brought a grab-bag of new, exciting, and overdue changes. This year, Apple did what they do best: listen, learn, iterate, improve.