Month: June 2014

Matt Drance:

What we saw at WWDC 2014 was built by thousands of people. The leadership at the top empowered those people to not only proceed, but to succeed. The attitude behind WWDC 2014 was one of increased openness and increased confidence — an attitude that managed to depart from the worst of the past while staying true to the best. Apple is undeniably the new company it deserves to be, and Tim Cook’s stewardship is on full display.

Jason Snell, Macworld:

Criticism of post-Jobs Apple tends to run in one of two directions (unless you’re the author of Haunted Empire and want to have it both ways): Either Apple is doomed because it’s slavishly following the out-of-date playbook of its former CEO, or it’s doomed because it’s not following the playbook of its genius former CEO.

As a close observer of Apple before, during, and after Jobs’s tenure, I can tell you that the Apple of today is not playing by the Steve Jobs playbook—except for the bit that demanded that everyone stop asking what Steve would do.

Justin Williams:

I came into this years WWDC fairly mellow to what would or wouldn’t be announced. There wasn’t any anticipation or excitement the night before. Just a standard amount of curiousity. After the Keynote, I can’t remember being that excited since the announcement of the original iPhone. They blew the roof off Moscone.

I’m still trying to digest the enormity of what was announced last week. After watching a number of the session videos, my impression of just how huge this year will be has, if anything, grown. I may complain about certain aspects of what was (or was not) announced, but that belies how completely I’ve been blown away.

Chalk up one more for the “why, yes, I can still bitch and moan even after that incredible WWDC” team: Apple was pretty quiet on the Maps front. Aside from the new indoor positioning site, indicating forthcoming indoor maps, and the improvements in China, Apple’s mapping data still feels like it hasn’t shaken its early reputation. Search still sucks, and my local data is sometimes still a crapshoot.1 Despite the enormous improvements throughout iOS 8, it’s (I think, understandably) frustrating to go yet another year without hearing about progress in the Maps department.

  1. A train station that was closed and demolished a year and a half prior to the launch of Apple Maps is inexplicably still there. (Update: It’s been fixed. The system works!) ↥︎

Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis had a brief email conversation with Bill Watterson. Then:

[H]e had a great sense of humor about the strip I had done, and was very funny, and oh yeah….

…He had a comic strip idea he wanted to run by me.


He said he knew that in my strip, I frequently make fun of my own art skills. And that he thought it would be funny to have me get hit on the head or something and suddenly be able to draw. Then he’d step in and draw my comic strip for a few days.

That’s right.

The cartoonist who last drew Calvin and Hobbes riding their sled into history would return to the comics page.

To draw Pearls Before Swine.

I’ve had a pretty amazing week for a lot of reasons, both obvious (WWDC) and personal. This story is one hell of a great way to cap off this week. (Via YJ Soon.)

Ruth Spencer, of the Guardian:

After seven years and 109,000 tweets, @everyword, one of the internet’s most beloved bots, is retiring. In 2007, computer programmer and poet Adam Parrish set out to tweet every word in the English language in alphabetical order, amassing 95,000 followers along the way. On Friday 6 June, the project will finally be complete.

There are vanishingly few things that disappointed during Monday’s keynote, but Benjamin Mayo nailed one:

I want to touch on one thing for now, Photos. Finally, Apple will take responsibility for storing all of your photos and videos for a fee. The assets don’t have to sit in local storage, like they do today with Photo Stream. They all show in the app though, streaming off the server on-demand.

Well, it’s not that service itself, but…

5 GB is simply not enough. There is a magic to having “all of your photos, on all of your devices”. The stinginess of the free tier precludes anyone from even getting a small glimpse of this experience, without having to pay more.

Upgrading to substantially more storage is now very reasonable, but the free tier just feels so stingy to me, and the $0.99/month price for 20 GB of storage also feels a little nickel-and-dimey. I understand that there are loads of people that will pony up a buck a month for increased storage,1 and that Apple generates revenue by asking people to exchange money for goods and services, instead of exchanging their searches for “green wart on pinky toe” for ad money. I appreciate that. But 5 GB of storage just feels so weak in 2014.

From one perspective, it’s just a dollar a month to quadruple your storage. But from another, it’s “Really? You’re going to charge a dollar a month for enough storage to back up only up to a 16 GB iPhone?”.

  1. I’m probably going to spring for the 200 GB plan. ↥︎

Marco Arment:

After last year’s WWDC, I argued in Fertile Ground that iOS 7 was a huge opportunity for developers: with so much change required for established apps to remain competitive, anyone making a new app had a big advantage and a great chance of establishing a foothold. Established markets were plowed over and shaken up, leaving opportunity.

This year, the opportunity is different, but even bigger. With iOS 8’s new Extensions, entire categories of apps that were previously impossible are now possible. Rather than shaking up the existing apps, Apple has created vast new markets that are currently empty.

This is going to be a very big year.

Dan Frommer, writing for Quartz:

Now, three years since iCloud’s debut, things seem to be coming together. (We’ve certainly come a long way since Ping, Apple’s failed iTunes social network, and MobileMe, iCloud’s ill-fated predecessor.) Next, we’ll see if Apple can excel in cloud services the way it has in hardware and software design.

If Apple can pair their goal of seamless inter-device usage with kick-ass developer tools and Google levels of speed and reliability, that’s a huge win for everyone. Apple can shed their reputation of not getting “The Cloud” and is prepared for the future, developers get much better iCloud tools, and users reap the benefits.

Brent Simmons:

It was like this, though — we kept hearing about things, even relatively small things, that all by themselves would have made for a great week. It was like the greatest Christmas ever — and then Santa Claus hung out so you could take selfies with him. This friendly and generous Apple reminds me why I love writing iOS and Mac apps.

Just a reminder that WWDC is, after all, a developer conference.

Fascinating collection of surveys from IKEA. In eight major cities worldwide, our morning routines are broadly similar. Just a heads-up: if you’re on a capped mobile plan, I’d wait until you get home before checking this out. It’s pretty heavy.

The always-astute Federico Viticci, of MacStories:

At the peak of criticism last year, many thought that iOS 7’s redesign was a fashionable excuse – a facade – to cover the fact that Apple was running out of ideas. Instead, I now see many of Apple’s decisions with iOS 7 as functional and directly related to this year’s deep changes in iOS 8. Just to name a few: improved background refresh and a more consistent visual style will allow App Extensions to be more versatile and consistent than they would have been without iOS 7; the Today view – useful but limited – can now become an area for interactive widgets; Near Me, tested for over a year, will be integrated in a much more useful Explore section on the App Store.

The new foundation of iOS 7 was necessary to elevate iOS 8 to new levels of efficiency. iOS is moving forward, and I can’t wait to see what developers make.

Craig Hockenberry:

In short, with confidence comes a new kind of openness. As developers, we’ve always struggled with a company that doesn’t want to give anything away. Yesterday, that started to change.

The vibe I got during Monday’s keynote from the presenters wasn’t the kind of confidence that manifests itself as cocky or arrogant; that kind of confidence is often an façade based on being cautious, but not wanting to show it. Rather, it was confidence because all the executives — and those in the audience and playing the home game — were fully aware that they were delivering a kick-ass keynote. Arrogance is loudly telling people you’re hot shit because you’re worried people might find out you’re not. The confidence I saw from Apple is the kind that comes with knowing you’re hot shit, but you don’t have to say it because everyone in the room knows you are, too.

It’s tough for me to say this, but I think that the WWDC 2014 keynote is probably the best Apple keynote since the original iPhone introduction at Macworld 2007.

Michael Silverberg, Quartz:

[F]or a “non-system” font—meaning, a font that’s not prepackaged in a given operating system—Gotham offers a decent ability to be rendered consistently among various platforms.

But not all platforms. In fact, maybe more interesting than what Twitter’s new type selection accomplishes is what it leaves out. Namely, most of the scripts used in the countries where it’s growing the fastest.

I know Gotham is Twitter’s corporate face, but they really dropped the ball on this one for international users. My friend Geoff sent me this article and commented that “it’s an interesting failure for a company so based in globalization”. Truly.

As if Apple didn’t launch enough stuff today, they decided to invent a new programming language called Swift. Here’s their guide to getting started in convenient iBook format. Speaking as someone who has only written a handful of lines of Objective C, this looks vastly more straightforward and so much less confusing. Nice.

Apple is a big company. Even the littlest of changes they make are made bigger simply as a function of their size. So when they kick off their year with a keynote so packed that Tim Cook couldn’t even mention retail store stats, it’s huge.

It’s awfully tempting to break this down into subsections of OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 and discuss each individually. But, if it wasn’t clear before that Apple considers these two operating systems to be intertwined, it absolutely could not be any clearer now. The features that received some of the most pronounced applause were those that allowed for near-seamless transitions between iOS devices and your Mac. You can take calls and reply to SMS messages (not just iMessages) on your Mac, and enable a hotspot from your Mac without having to touch your iPhone. AirDrop now works between iOS devices and Macs, and there’s a sweet new technology called Handoff that allows for seamless workflows between equivalent Mac and iOS apps that support it.

Even the stuff that felt like it was contained to one platform was designed to make the two operating systems feel even more like two parts of the same story. The significant user interface overhaul in Yosemite is, by and large, borrowed from and related to iOS 7. The translucency, bright colours, simplified icons, and Helvetica Neue are by-the-book iOS, as is the near-identical Notification Centre. But, make no mistake, this is still a Macintosh, running the same powerful apps you’ve always expected. It still has Terminal, and it’s still based on Unix.

Some feature pairity went the other way, too, from OS X to iOS. Most noticeably, iOS is a hell of a lot more open to third-party developers than ever before. Different apps can now share data, which should make photo editing even better. Developers can add buttons to the system share sheet, too, so Instapaper, for example, could now be available everywhere, instead of just in apps that feel like supporting it. Finally, third parties can now add widgets to the Notification Centre on both iOS and OS X.

But, while these operating systems seem like they’re on an inevitable collision course, I doubt they actually are. They may now look similar and have even greater shared functionality, but they are still their own beasts. The easiest comparison is against Windows, where the same UI is used on smartphones, tablets, and the desktop. That’s not happening here. iOS is still designed for touch (aside from the persistent “×” buttons in Notification Centre), while OS X is still very much designed for a keyboard and mouse. They are siblings, but they are not twins.

I’ve said a couple of times previously that Apple has been taking steps to reorientate themselves for their future. Tim Cook shuffled up the executive team, bought companies small and large, and ushered the company through a series of significant transitions. It has felt a little slow at times, and it has been a little bit messy, but the fruits of that are beginning to appear. Today’s WWDC offered an astonishing glimpse at the future of the Mac, the iPhone, and the iPad. I’m looking forward to spending the next few months trying to better understand all that I have seen today.

Boy, did I ever get this one wrong.

Get your wallets ready, everyone: new hardware is almost guaranteed.

No hardware announcements at all, but I wasn’t disappointed. That keynote was packed, and I’ll get to more as the day progresses. On the plus side, at least I was totally correct about the lack of a MacBook Air update.

Let’s talk about OS X, the star of the show:

My guess is that the closest approximation of OS X’s future aesthetic is the Calendar day view: varying weights of Helvetica Neue, varying shades of grey to define heirarchy, and plenty of whitespace. Perhaps mix that with the brighter palette of iOS 7 and I think that’s nudging in the right direction.

OS X received more of an overhaul than I expected. Sure, I called Helvetica (as did everyone), but I didn’t think they’d bring as many aspects of iOS over to the desktop. Between translucency and the very iOS-like Notification Centre, it feels a lot more coherent. From what I’ve seen so far, I think it looks fantastic.

I hope for an update to AirDrop, so files could be instantly sent between a Mac and iOS device. I’m entirely unfamiliar with the tech requirements for this, but I’m spitballing here.

Truly, the tip of an interoperability iceberg. Let’s talk more about this soon.

Onto iOS 8, and one of its tentpole consumer features, Health (previously known in the rumour blogs as Healthbook):

I not sure Healthbook would be introduced without the hardware, even if parts of the app don’t necessarily require additional hardware. Therefore, I think it’s plausible that Healthbook and related aspects will be a component of the iPhone 6 launch.

Nope. Health and the related HealthKit developer tools were both introduced today. As someone who isn’t a fitness enthusiast, I’m intrigued by what they can bring to the table. So far, unfortunately, it appears very US-centric. For example, one of the features mentioned was the ability for Health to keep track of specific vitals and notify your doctor as soon as they fall outside of a certain range. All of the hospital logos on the following slide, though, were American.

Apple launched a few other Kits today, most notably HomeKit, which is a set of APIs and common standards for “smart” home appliances. Both HealthKit and HomeKit are establishing standards in sectors that have traditionally resisted any sort of interoperability. Apple is swinging their weight around to make bold changes.

One feature I’ve long hoped for is something like Notification Centre’s “Today” view appearing automatically in the morning on the lock screen. I haven’t seen any rumours that something like this is coming, but I’d love it if it were.


As rarely as I use Siri, it would be so great to see an official API for third-party developers.


Likewise, it’s so easy to buy stuff on iTunes and the App Store with TouchID that an API for that, too, would be rad.

Oddly, yes, this arrived.

Whatever the accuracy of the rumours, I’m very much looking forward to WWDC this year. Maybe Dr. Dre is, too.

Strangely correct.

Overall, I scored pretty low for predictions. I need to have a coffee and think about this keynote. Make no mistake: it was huge.