Editor's Desk: Setting -- and blowing -- WWDC expectations
I'm sitting across from Moscone Center West where, in around 28 hours, Apple executives including CEO Tim Cook will take to the Keynote stage to kickoff their annual developers conference, WWDC 2013. No period in Apple's recent history has been more competitive for them, with rivals Google and Samsung pushing the mobile pace into damn-nearly a sprint, and no period in Apple's recent history has it been so long between keynotes before, almost 8 months having past since the iPad mini even back in October of 2012. Those twin tensions put a lot of expectational pressure on Apple. Everyone is waiting. Everyone is watching. Everyone wants to know -- what will Apple do, and what can Apple do?
Seeing a lot of the iOS 7 wish-list to date -- including some of my own -- made me realize that way too much focus has been put on the idea of Apple "catching up" to Android. The deep desire for Jelly Bean if only it were as elegant and performant as iOS. And then I realized--
Screw that. If that's the list, just get Android and hope Google gets their butter/ghee together.
When the iPhone launched in 2007 it had nothing in the way of feature parity with the Treo or BlackBerry that dominated in the day. It did something different. It offered something else instead. It leapt ahead, even as it left some very important things behind to do so.
That's what I'd like to see from iOS again. That leap forward. That something next.
Most people will forgive almost any existing feature omission if the overall experience delights and new features are uniquely compelling. That's what happened in 2007, and that's what I'd like to see happen again.
Last year a lot of effort and resources went into iOS 6 and while there was some great stuff for developers, there wasn't much else in terms of moving the state of the art of very personal computers forward. This year iOS 7 is getting a redesign, but will it be only skin deep, or will it once again push the boundaries of usability and delight?
A cosmetic change, sadly, could be more important in terms of mass-market kvetch-control than a re-imagining of core experience. If Apple understands that, the value of a fresh coat of paint, then the new iOS 7 look could likewise have dominated resources this year around. (Those highly iterated assets don't code themselves).
If that's the case, if this year is as much about Apple re-inventing their look as last year was about them taking ownership of their platform, then so be it. But I'll be looking for signs of more -- of where they're headed.
There's going to be a lot to unpack on Monday. I'm here with Peter Cohen and Martin Reisch, as well as with my co-host from Debug, Guy English, and co-hosts from Iterate, Marc Edwards and Seth Clifford. From our coverage in the morning to our (not live, but released soon-thereafter) show in the evening, we're going to bring it all to you.
Now, just to further help set -- or blow -- expectations:
Apple didn't provide multitasking, they provided ways for people to listen to music while surfing the web or using turn-by-turn directions. Likewise if they offer something for inter-app communication in iOS 7, it's hard to see them grafting in the overly complex and unfriendly sharing and intents system of other platforms. Rather, I can see them figuring out the most common use cases, and providing a simple way to address them.
If Apple does a subscription/streaming music service it probably won't be with every geek bell and whistle imaginable, but one that'll appeal to the 80% of the market who just want to tap a button, hear songs, and if they like them, keep them. And if they have to launch without every partner possible, I don't see them hesitating any more than they did with DRM-free iTunes music or iBooks.
Given the realities of battery life, I don't see Retina MacBook Air's in the near future. I do see a Retina MacBook Pro that, thanks to Haswell, makes people who want a Retina MBA think about maybe going 13-inch pro instead.
Out of time! I'll be back later with more!