Tag Archive for ‘WWDC’

Apple Announces iOS 14 ➝

A lot of great improvements in this upgrade including App Library, the ability to save widgets to your home screen, picture-in-picture video, a new Siri user interface, a translation app, pinned threads in Messages, App Clips and more.

➝ Source: apple.com

Notes On WWDC

I was traveling the day of the Apple event and the WiFi on the flight wasn’t quite good enough to stream the video live. So it took me a couple of days before I could watch the entire keynote. The following is my miscellaneous notes and observations taken while watching the full replay:

tvOS 13

  • I’m glad they finally showed off a teaser trailer for one of their Apple TV+ shows. I’m not sure if “For All Mankind” is something I would enjoy watching in full, but it does seem quite compelling.
  • Multiple user support sounds really nice, but what if multiple people are watching TV at the same time, which I expect is quite common. How do you track that? Is there any way to tell the TV that there’s more than one person watching and have that sync back to their respective iCloud accounts? Or are you only able to have a single person viewing at a time?
  • Adding support for Xbox One and DualShock 4 controllers is a huge deal, but I still wish Apple would design and release their own controller.
  • The new Apple TV dock looks nice, but I’m curious to see how it works with existing applications that have Top Shelf extensions. There is already a limited number of top-tier apps with that functionality and introducing a new iteration of Top Shelf doesn’t give me hope that more apps will implement it.

I’d still like to see a bit more movement on the Apple TV front. The updates they introduced sound great, but I would feel more confident in my decision to go all-in on Apple TV if they pushed it a little bit further.

watchOS 6

  • New Apple Watch faces. They seem neat, but none of them look like they’ll knock Utility, Modular, or Activity Digital off of my setup — they’re the three best watch faces and it’s not even close.
  • I like seeing Calculator come to the Apple Watch. I’ve been using Calzy, but I’m not positive that it’s the best calculator experience possible on the Watch. I’m hoping Apple will help to raise the bar for this category.
  • Independent apps could be a huge deal for Apple Watch because there won’t be any need to build a companion iPhone app. But I’m more excited about the streaming audio API. The experience of listening to podcasts on the Watch at the moment isn’t great, but I hope these two features give developers the opportunity to improve it greatly.
  • App Store on the Watch goes hand-in-hand with the independent application capabilities, but I can’t imagine it being a good experience. Who wants to sit there and browse applications on their wrist?
  • Activity Trends is exciting — it’s the type of information and coaching that I’ve always wanted to see from the Watch.
  • I don’t think too much about my hearing and likely am surrounded by dangerously loud environments far more often than I realize. I look forward to a time when I’m notified to move further away from the source or consider using ear plugs to protect my hearing.

Apple continues to do a great job of improving the Apple Watch year-over-year and I’m happy to see this continue. The most exciting aspect of watchOS 6 is the new streaming audio API — I’m hoping that developers will make some great apps with this.

iOS 13

  • I’m interested to see the real world implications of the new application bundle slimming they’re using. Apps launching twice as fast is an impressive feat — if they can pull it off, it’ll be a big deal.
  • I don’t care about dark mode and don’t understand why anyone else does. I just don’t get the appeal.
  • I’ve never even tried a swipe-style keyboard before, so I’m interested to give it a try. I don’t expect I’ll use it long-term, but we’ll see.
  • I like that Mail is finally getting robust text formatting options, but I’m a little worried that this will mean an uptick in the amount of emails I receive with colored text and font size adjustments. That will not be an improvement in my eyes.
  • The new Maps app looks nice, but I think the most important new feature for me is the shareable ETA. I expect I’ll use that all the time.
  • I’m happy that Apple is making strides at fixing the social login issue. It’s such a convenient feature for users, but the privacy implications are larger than the average user realizes. Being able to use Sign-in with Apple is going to be a boon for user privacy. The randomized email address announcement received a huge applause and it deserves it.
  • I’ve thought about purchasing a HomeKit camera for our backyard, so we can keep an eye on our pool when we’re not home. But the privacy implication of an internet-connected camera kept me from actually purchasing. I might pull the trigger when some of these HomeKit Secure Video cameras hit the market.
  • HomeKit for routers is neat, but wouldn’t it be cool if Apple was the company that was building these routers? I guess our only hope is that Eero will add this functionality to its existing routers so I won’t have to spend another few hundred dollars on a new setup.
  • It didn’t take long for Vignette to get Shrelocked by the new Messages app, I guess.
  • I hope the new photo editing features won’t muck up the interface in a way that makes it difficult for novice users. I don’t want to mess with too many advanced settings, I just want to adjust a couple of sliders and call it a day.
  • There are so many instances where my wife and I want to listen to the same podcast or YouTube video. We end up sharing a set of AirPods and each of us wear one, but being able to share audio to multiple AirPod sets is going to be fantastic.

Based on the last iOS-related slide, there seems to be a ton of new features that were never showcased on stage. I’m most excited about the advancements to Shortcuts that weren’t discussed, but I’m sure there are several dozen other little improvements that will be nice to see as well.

iPadOS

  • Pinning widgets on the home screen is going to be amazing and it’s likely the first thing I enable when I install iOS 13 on my iPad. I’m a big fan of widgets, but was never in love with how tough they were to access. There was a time when the system would remember that you accessed your widgets last and present you with those when you swiped down from the top of the screen, but that was lost a few major updates ago. I’m glad we’ll have a quick and easy way to always access widgets again.
  • I’m happy to see that they’re adding the ability to use split-view with multiple instances of the same application, but I don’t expect I’ll actually use it in practice.
  • The app exposé and slide over app switcher look quite nice, but I am a bit concerned that this will add an additional layer of complexity to window management, which will inevitably get in the way of productivity. I’m curious to see how it will play out when you’re actually using the device.
  • Support for thumb drives and external disk drives is going to be a major deal. It was one of the things I mentioned to my wife after the event and it will be a big win for her. She recently switched to an iPad as her primary home computer and having the ability to throw a document on a thumb drive so she can take it to work is a major improvement.
  • Hearing a WordPress shoutout during the Safari segment was pretty cool.
  • I’m not too sure about the new gestures for text manipulation. I think I’ll get the hang of the new copy and paste gestures relatively quickly, but I’m concerned that the new text selection gestures are going to feel a little odd at first. There’s a lot of potential for conflicts — how does the system know I’m selecting text or moving the cursor instead of trying to scroll, for example? There were a couple of snafus during the demo, which doesn’t fill me with confidence.
  • The full page markup functionality is kind of amazing. I’m sure this has a ton of applications for web designers and developers, as well as teachers and print publishers.

Apple really hit it out of the park with iPadOS. This has been my primary home computing platform since I first purchased my iPad Air 2 in 2015 and it just continues to get better each year. I’m still a far cry from being able to do my day job from my iPad, but that’s mostly because of some specialty software that isn’t available on the platform yet. Maybe in a few more years, the system will get to the point where I can start pushing our developers toward releasing apps for iOS as well.

Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR

  • I think the new Mac Pro has a snazzy design. It might not be as elegant as an iMac or a MacBook Pro, but it has a powerful, utilitarian look that I love.
  • The machine is incredibly powerful out of the box, but they really gave themselves a ton of headroom to expand and upgrade the machine down the line as necessary. This is exactly what pro customers have been waiting for.
  • The new Pro Display XDR is an incredible piece of tech, but I wish they announced multiple models. A 32-inch display is massive and I’m sure there are plenty of pro users that would have liked to have an option that was a bit smaller, maybe 27- and 24-inch options as well. Even if it meant cutting down the features a bit on the smaller models. This would have been especially nice for users that prefer to have multiple displays instead of one giant display.

The Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR are expensive. Really expensive. I understand that this is aimed at the pro market, but I would have liked to see Apple offer these at lower pricing with significantly reduced specs. Long gone are the days of Mac Pros that can be purchased for $1999 and upgraded over time. And that’s a real shame.

I’ve been looking to upgrade our home server to something new because the 2011 Mac Mini that we had been using is a bit long in the tooth. It would be nice if I could have replaced it with a Mac Pro so that all of the storage was internal and the ability to rip/convert DVDs and Blu-ray discs was faster than the Mini is capable of. I hate the fact that if I want a ton of storage connected to our Mac Mini, I have to use a bunch of external drives that leave the whole setup looking like a mess.

macOS

  • Catalina is an excellent name.
  • I’m glad they’re finally unbundling iTunes into separate applications. And I’m even happier that they’re doing this after I’ve moved on to Plex for managing my media library. I just feel a bit better about the transition knowing that it will take place without me having to really feel any of the pain points associated with it. I still maintain an iTunes library for iTunes Match, but that’s far less important to my media workflows than our main library is.
  • Sidecar seems like a really nifty feature. It’s just a shame that they had to Sherlock an entire class of applications in the process. But I’m not someone that has really spent much time using multiple displays for any of my workflows. I tend to have my iPad propped up next to my MacBook Air while I work, but that’s mostly for managing music playback and occasionally testing a webpage issue on a different system. I’m curious to see if Sidecar changes that for me.
  • The Find My app seems like a massive upgrade from the previous iteration, with the separate Find My iPhone and Find My Friends Apps. I love that they’re utilizing other people’s iPhones to help you find your devices wherever they may be.
  • Project Catalyst is something that we’ve already heard about, back when it was called Marzipan. I’m hoping it will mean less Electron apps in my Dock and more native applications on my machine.

macOS seemed like less of a step forward compared to the rest of Apple’s platforms. Which makes sense, since the Mac is a much more mature platform. But I guess a large portion of their efforts in that regard went toward developer-level improvements with things like Swift UI and their AR endeavors.

Overall

This was one of the most impressive WWDC events that I can remember. The entire keynote was just packed with little announcements that will have a real impact on Apple device users’ lives. I think they probably could have cut a bit more from the keynote, giving us a more streamlined, compact event. I’m not sure if Swift UI and the AR segment really needed to exist within the main WWDC keynote and might have been better suited for The Platform State of the Union later that day.

But I look forward to getting my hands on all of the new software that they introduced during the event. I’m not sure if I’ll end up installing iPadOS or iOS 13 on my main devices, but it’s tempting. Perhaps I’ll take the plunge when the public beta releases this Summer.

A New Vision for Siri and iOS Automation ➝

An incredible piece by Federico Viticci that clearly explains what Shortcuts for iOS is and what it might mean for the platform going forward.

Questions Regarding Shortcuts for iOS

Shortcuts on Stage at WWDC

Last week, at WWDC, Apple announced Shortcuts for iOS. The app seems positioned to replace Workflow and I’m very excited to get my hands on it. I think Shortcuts is going to be a game-changer — something that will be looked back on as one of the most important features to ever ship on iOS. But I still have some unanswered questions that I’d like to share:

  • Does this enable Siri support for any action or interaction within any app?
  • With Shortcuts in iOS 12, could apps like Spotify give users the ability to start playback of any song in their library through Siri?
  • Are Shortcuts shareable?
  • Will we have a Shortcuts today widget?
  • Can we add shortcuts to the home screen?
  • Will there be any way to migrate workflows to Shortcuts?
  • Is there support for building action extensions?
  • Will Shortcuts feature all of the same actions as Workflow including all of the third-party application actions?
  • Does Shortcuts have a URL scheme for initiating shortcuts from other apps?
  • Will Shortcuts sync over iCloud?

I think Shortcuts is the biggest announcement coming out of WWDC this year. It’s basically the dream scenario for Workflow fans that were concerned about the future of the app. But the above questions have me tempering my expectations. I’d love to find out that Shortcuts is just a drop-in replacement for Workflow, but there’s a part of me that’s worried that it has regressed in some way. Hopefully we’ll have answers to all of these questions soon.

Update: Matthew Cassinelli, former Workflow employee, kindly replied on Twitter with answers to many of the questions. Here’s the key takeaways:

  • Developers will be able to build Shortcuts for just about anything in their app, but these shortcuts can’t accept user input.
  • You’ll be able to create shortcuts to songs in Spotify, as long as they add support for it, but you won’t be able to play any arbitrary song.
  • The app will have a Today widget.
  • Existing workflows will migrate automatically.
  • The app should sync over iCloud, but implementation details are unclear.

macOS Mojave ➝

A great overview of macOS Mojave by John Voorhees. Of the lot, my favorite new feature is Desktop Stacks. I don’t use my Mac too often, but when I do, I’m usually dealing with a lot of files all at once. I typically store those files on my desktop while I’m working on them and this new stacks feature sounds like a great way to keep everything organized.

The Talk Show Live From WWDC ➝

The video from last night’s live edition of the Talk Show with special guests Greg Joswiak, Apple VP of product marketing, and Mike Rockwell, Apple VP of AR and VR.

watchOS 5

I watched this year’s WWDC keynote live from the comfort of my living room. My plan was to take notes during the event and share my thoughts on the various announcements throughout the week. I didn’t expect to be completely blown away by the iOS 12 segment, which I shared my thoughts on yesterday. From that point forward, my plan to take notes went out the window. I just sat back and enjoyed the show.

As a result of that, I’ve decided to rewatch the entire keynote and actually take notes this time around. The following is my miscellaneous thoughts and commentary on watchOS 5 — the second most important Apple platform in my life:

  • Competitions seems like a great new feature. I can see my wife and I using these to keep ourselves motivated to stay in shape. And I really like how the progress updates are displayed, with points based on your move ring progress and small charts comparing each person by day.
  • I’m glad they’re finally adding proper support for Yoga workouts. I don’t do yoga as much as I used to, but this might be the motivation I needed to get back into it.
  • The Hiking workout will be a welcomed addition to the workouts app, too. I’m not much of a hiker, but I could see myself using this if my wife and I went on vacation to a mountainous area.
  • My wife loves running, but due to some health concerns, she had to take a break from it over the past year. But now that her heart is functioning properly again, she’s slowly started reintroducing running into her life. And I expect she’ll appreciate the new Outdoor Run features coming in watchOS 5.
  • Automatic Workout Detection is going to be an incredible feature. After owning an Apple Watch for nearly three years, I usually make sure to start a workout on my watch. But about 10% of the time, I completely forget. This solves that problem entirely.
  • Walkie-Talkie demos well, but I don’t expect I’ll ever use it. How is this better than just sending an iMessage?
  • Great additions to the Siri Watch Face including Siri Shortcuts and third-party apps. I haven’t used the Siri Watch Face during my day-to-day use because all of my most important information is kept in third-party apps. But now that third-party apps can populate the Siri face, I think I’ll give it another try.
  • Dropping the need to say “Hey Siri” sounds like a neat idea, but I’m worried that there will be too many false positives. What if I’m just checking the time or glancing at a notification during a conversation and it picks up on something I say?
  • More interactive notifications looks like a great improvement to the watch experience. Especially considering that notifications is one of the killer apps for the device. Giving developers more control over what notifications look like and what users can do with those notifications is going to be great.
  • WebKit on Apple Watch. This is kind of insane and I never thought Apple would ever do this. But I have to say, it’s really lame when someone sends you a link in Messages and you have to pull out your phone to read it. Being able to do that on your Watch is going to be pretty neat.
  • I think Podcasts on Apple Watch is going to be the next killer feature. It’s something that users have been clamoring for since day one and I expect it’s going to sell a lot of watches.
  • Background audio for third-party apps is a huge deal and will give developers of podcast apps the ability to compete with Apple’s offering. I just hope Marco Arment has it ready in Overcast on watchOS 5 launch day.

The enhancements in watchOS 5 weren’t as impressive as iOS 12, but the update is filled with solid improvements that will go a long way toward improving the experience.

Apple Design Award Winners Announced ➝

Congratulations to this year’s winners, including my calculator app of choice and one of the best iOS games of all time.