With the 2016 Apple World Wide Developers Conference keynote finished, we can take a look at what was announced and more importantly, why it means for you. If you want the cheat sheet version here it is:
- The event was all software
- There’s now four operating systems and none of them have numbers (the brand simplification has begun)
- Apple have proven you can have privacy and AI
- Apple are enabling more people to be developers than ever
Now, if you’re looking for the more in depth version, here it is.
When this event was preluded there was some talk of there being new MacBooks being shown off, but with Intel’s new chips only just announced for an end of the year launch, that dream was quashed. Likewise the hopes of a replacement for the ever trusty and expensive Thunderbolt display. Word is from a source that the end of the year looks ‘quiet interesting’ where products are concerned. Give all the new Intel chips, from mobile to desktop to server, we could see the whole Mac line lifted in spec some time around the launch of the next macOS.
So, this was a completely software based event and what better way to continue than in the keynote’s running order.
The Apple Watch’s OS is to hit version three this Fall (read: September) and really seems like it has two main themes; Things it should have done from the start and new welcome additions.
One of the highlights of the Apple Watch in general is how it can streamline your communications. This is helped further with watchOS 3 adding in some new input methods. The ability to draw on the display to write messages is the logical answer to ‘if we can’t have a keyboard. What can we have?’.
Further from this, there’s new watch faces, a focus on mindfulness with a new breathe activity and most importantly a simplification. The big side button now opens a ‘dock’. From here you can swipe between open apps. This effectively replaces ‘glances’ and as I’ve been using it, I can say ‘good riddance’ to them! The dock makes a lot more sense.
There’s a bit less to cover when it comes to tvOS. Given that it’s only the Apple TV released last year that runs it, there’s little bit of software catch up here too. A ‘dark theme’ is being introduced to make it more like the old one and a new remote app will actually simulate the physical remote with your iOS device.
The rest of what comes with tvOS links it to the other new feature in iOS, such as Apple Music, Photos, HomeKit and an expanded API, allowing for even more apps. When they launched tvOS, Apple said that ‘apps are the future of of tv’ and as we move forward, they are proving that point.
OS X (not any more)
Yep as widely expected, the name OS X is moving on after 15 years of service. The newly titled (or re-activated from the past) macOS is coming to desktops and laptops with a friend, Siri.
The new macOS still uses the trusty codename system, so this one is called Sierra. The power of Siri in Sierra is it’s deep integration. Like Spotlight search became a key part of the mac experience (shut up, it did! Even if you didn’t use it, it’s indexing system has been vital) as so Siri will become. Using Siri to perform tasks as you work on something else bring the idea of true ‘digital assistant’ to life. Tie in with that the work that seems to be going in to giving Siri a natural language UI, and you’re getting closer to being able to use your Mac as an assistant and as a tool.
The rest of the big things for Sierra, all have a basis in iOS:
- Optimising store using icloud
- photos being more powerful
- picture in picture video
- Continuity to copy and paste between devices
- Apple Pay
I once ventured that Apple would one day bring iOS and OS X together by allowing OS X to run iOS apps. Now I see that Apple are being in the two platforms together by linking their functionality and removing roadblocks between the devices.
Theres also a new feature to use your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac, you know, like I predicted in 2013.
Lastly but by no means least, iOS. In fact, iOS is the headliner these days. It’s Apple largest ever operating system and has come a long way in 10 versions.
In fact, version 10 is the closest thing to a redesign since iOS 7. The lock screens, notifications, launch centre, widgets, Apple’s own apps. Everything has been worked on.
There’s some great new big things like a rebuilt iMessage, with so many options, it’s like 3 chat clients in one and Apple Music has been completely rethought for the better.
It’s also got some little things that in the last couple of days of using the beta, have already saying ‘why didn’t it do this 9 years ago!’. Things like clearing all notifications in one go and raise to wake, where the phone knows you’ve picked it up and lights the screen up to show you notifications. Oh and if you have a 5s and above, slide to unlock is gone.
As I mentioned before the keynote, I expected Apple to integrate artificial intelligence in to what they were showing off, but I expected them not to use the words AI. Reason being that Google, Facebook and Microsoft having been hammering. I was right and Apple used terms like ‘deep learning’. For instance, Siri can now understand what is in a picture. It does about 11 billion calculations (only done by 64-bit devices and only when plugged in to a charger it seems) to work out what is in there, so that when you ask for pictures of Jake from your holiday to Paris, that’s exactly what you get. That kind of learning is done on the device and the information in it’s entirety is not sent to Apple.
Apple made a very big point behind the privacy in this kind of AI and even discussed the efforts they were going to in order to protect user privacy. There’s a trust that Apple users have and it’s nice to hear that it’s not misplaced.
This was a rapid keynote. The amount of content that some 8/10 Apple executives got through was staggering and there’s still stuff coming out days after the event. I think the primary reason for this is that Apple haven’t had a lot to say publicly since the launch of the smaller iPad Pro in March. When you have four operating systems to cover too, you can’t go slowly.
There’s been some fuss on line about Apple’s complex product line and naming systems. This keynote has been the first step in acknowledging and improving on this situation:
Is the device a watch? Then it runs watchOS. Is it a TV box ? Then it’s tvOS. Is it a Mac? Well it now runs macOS. Is it an iPhone, iPad or iPod? Then it’s on iOS.
Pretty simple really. Now if only there were a way to sort out all the different names for an iPhone. Let’s see what September brings!