WWDC 2016 is over, but it left us with many opinions, and many more questions.
We've had just over a week to sit with the big changes coming to iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Some have faded into the background, while others continue to ruminate and make us think. There's a lot to say, so we're all going to take some time to put pen to paper.
watchOS 3: Were the new features worthy of a whole new version number? Before you answer, just remember to Breathe.
I'm incredibly happy with the changes being made to watchOS. While I'd hoped the company would ditch the Carousel app picker entirely, Apple has done the next best thing: Users are being redirected to launch apps from complications, or from the new Dock, which replaces the nonsensical Friends app as the "single tap the Side button to launch" item.
Frequently-used apps in that Dock and on watch faces are not only going to be faster (hallelujah), but hopefully better-designed for the watch. Apple's developer sessions at WWDC this year spent a lot of time on the experience of apps on the watch, and just how much time you want a user looking at them before they drop their wrist, and I think that's going to be really important for the health of the platform going forward.
Breathe is just cool. Despite being an athlete, I'm pretty terrible at taking full breaths, and I can't wait to use this app to break my bad breathing habits. Also, haptic taps to tell you how to inhale! Perfect use case for the watch.
I am a little worried about battery life — those faster app launches come at a cost, and it may be especially apparent on the 38mm models. But overall, very positive about watchOS 3.
I think so: They weren't quite as radical as I had hoped in some respects, but replacing Glances with the customizable Dock is the first step towards app permanence on the Watch, which is, I suppose, something that Apple has struggled with since the wearable's launch.
I'm still not convinced that apps, even in their pared-down Watch form, are the right way to broach things on this form factor; I'd much rather have more functionality built into notifications. And while the problematic app Constellation is still present, with the Dock storing and facilitating the quick loading of apps I feel like loading these pint-sized experiences will be somewhat improved on this first generation of hardware. Whether they're dramatically improved on the coming successor to the Apple Watch, which will inevitably have faster hardware and better battery life, remains to be seen, but that has to be Apple's biggest priority at this stage.
Absolutely! The biggest problem I have with Apple Watch is slow app loading. Apple fixed that. I've always felt that the Side button would be better suited for something more useful than directly connecting to contacts. Apple changed that. There still is no built-in keyboard (and no sign that third-party developers will be able to create one, either), but Apple will provide us with an alternative in the form of on-screen handwriting recognition, letter-by-letter. It's not perfect, but I appreciate the compromise. This is definitely a full OS upgrade over watchOS 2. There are so many new features coming that I think it is a bigger release than iOS 10 and macOS Sierra.
breathes in, breathes out OK, centered.
Holy moly, talk about a complete half-hour trip around the clock (that's a stupid clock joke about Apple doing a 180º). Apple's spent some time getting to know how we spend our time checking the time (and waiting for apps to load), and it's made some incredible improvements — well, if the demos hold up, anyway. The company focused on performance improvements for watchOS, and that means we won't be waiting ages for our favorite apps to load. It's all I ever wanted!
There are a few new faces that seem interesting and a new app for helping you learn controlled breathing, but nothing stood out to me more than when they tapped on a complication and the app just launched immediately. It was glorious; it is glorious.
Oh! If you've got a Mac and an Apple Watch, you'll be able to bypass the lock screen on the Mac if you're wearing your Apple Watch. I know, I know, thank you for clapping.
watchOS 3 was an important step in making the Watch more coherent and more convenient. By removing tap points, collapsing glances, and expanding faces into launches, Apple is saying 2 seconds is the new bar for interactions. Sure, they're stuffing apps into DRAM to do it, and spending some power on background updates, but implementation details are implementation details. What matters is whether or not it works.
Add to that incredibly important features like emergency alerts, and it's a phenomenal update.
I think I'll just breath. OS updates varied for me. watchOS looks to have the biggest and most important updates. It makes Watch much more usable. I'd call this Watch OS 1.0, as in the OS that might have been planned but didn't ship. It definitely looks refined, uses hardware more sensibly, and promises to make apps fast. Or at least faster. iOS received its yearly update. Some nice tweaks, some nice polishes to make it more useable but not a game changer. Notably missing for me was a CarPlay app directly on the phone, such as Google has with Android Auto, and Android N. Split screen on larger phones would also be nice, using it on Android N, I was a little surprised just how useful it is. As for OS X, er, macOS… YAWN. Siri integration? Wow. Except not really. If ever there was a dot release this is it. Should be El Capitan base camp.
Next up was tvOS. Not the biggest list of new updates, but some nice improvements. Do you agree?
Single sign-on is something I've been asking for time and time again, and I'm thrilled to see it show up on Apple TV at last. The tech behind this feature may also be laying the groundwork for Apple's future "channel subscription" endeavours, which is pretty exciting. But my biggest thrill over Apple TV? YouTube voice search. There's just something great about being able to ask your TV "show me the Acro-cats" and have your TV do it.
I'm also pretty happy for the folks in the games development world, as Apple is lifting the "your game must be compatible to play on the Siri Remote" restriction for tvOS 10. That should introduce more variety into gaming on the Apple TV, and perhaps open the door for more complex titles going forward.
It pains me to say it, but the biggest feature — single sign-on — won't be available in Canada for some time. That's because the feature is reliant on cable providers like Comcast and Cox participating in the program. But that doesn't discount from the fact that, were my Cableco involved in the setup, it would be fantastic to automatically authenticate every streaming service after the initial one. Like magic.
Of course, the new software doesn't fix the terrible Siri Remote, but at least Apple plans to offer a brand new Remote app for iOS in its stead. This app promises to be faster, more reliable, and considerably more intuitive, which means less time being forced to use the Siri Remote when it's not necessary.
I'm excited about the new features coming to tvOS 10. The only way I watch entertainment in my living room is with Apple TV, so I am knee deep in what's good and bad about it. For example, universal app downloading is going to be very helpful. Currently, if I download an ATV-compatible app on my iPhone or iPad, I don't know about it without opening the ATV App Store and searching for it in my recently purchased section. In tvOS 10, they will automatically appear on my Home screen, and if I don't want them, I can simply delete them. Single Sign-on is going to make things a lot easier for people that use a lot of channel apps. Adding Siri support for the iOS Remote app is great for having more remote options. I also love that Apple has lifted the restrictions for games requiring support for the Siri Remote.
I'll probably continue to use my Apple TV as a Netflix box, so the new changes and improvements don't really matter all that much to me. Despite my disdain for the Siri Remote, I prefer it to swiping and tapping on my phone. Dark Mode seems kind of cool, but that's one of those things where you go, "Why wasn't that in tvOS in the first place?" and then get a little frustrated and forget what you were excited about.
I guess what I'm saying is tvOS continues to march forward, but it makes no difference to me so long as Netflix keeps working.
tvOS is Apple's newest platform, and it's only been eight months since the first version shipped. There are some rough edges honed off here, and the finally-worthy launch of the Siri Remote app for iOS.
I love the dark appearance and want it everywhere. I like the idea of single sign-on, even though I'm a cord-cutter. And would love Live Tune, if only the Canadian networks got off their asses and released Apple TV apps.
The biggest thing for me, though, was setting games free from the Siri Remote. Now it's up to developers to deliver.
Single sign in for channel apps. YAY. One of the most annoying features that keeps me from using Apple TV all the time, it's just too much of a pain in the neck. Apps now also don't need to support the Apple Remote. Good in some ways but really bad if the best titles need me to buy another gadget.
macOS Sierra is definitely more than just a name change. What are your favorite new things about Apple's oldest operating system?
Siri on the Mac? Eh. Where's the Spotlight integration?
I'm more excited about automatic login with the Apple Watch, which promises to save dozens of hours of typing in my password over the next however-many number of years.
I think we've reached a point where Apple isn't worried about making drastic changes to the Mac (other than a big name change), since the OS Formerly Known As X meets most people's needs as it is. Even a feature like Universal Clipboard caters more, in my opinion, to iPhone users than to those on the Mac.
Bader may be pessimistic about Siri on the Mac, but I love the idea — especially that Siri is both contextually aware and can search through your files. I use Spotlight constantly on my iMac, but being able to multitask with my voice alongside my other desktop work is a big step forward from the non-persistent Spotlight overlay.
Universal Clipboard is the big one for me, though. I've been pseudo-hacking my iPad and Mac to do this already by using one awkward and lengthy Notes document, but this should be more secure and a lot easier to accomplish.
The biggest news is Siri on the Mac. I'm excited about the possibilities, but I've mentioned before that I don't have high expectations. We'll see as to whether the digital assistant can actually make it so I can add a reminder without stopping what I'm doing. I'm happy to get auto-unlock on my Apple Watch and iPhone, but frankly, I've been using MacID for a long time now, so the feature doesn't seem all that special, other than it will probably work more reliably.
Apple Pay on Mac doesn't impress me at all. I have all of my cards already connected to Safari Keychain, so it is already super easy for me to pay for things through websites. I am excited about being able to sync desktop files and folders to iCloud Drive. I'm very excited about picture-in-picture on Mac. Watching YouTube videos while I work. Oh, boy!
I love my Mac (or is it mac now?) and I love the Mac operating system. Any improvements are going to get me excited, and this year's announcements were no exception. The name change made sense and has no influence on the operating system itself, so I'm not going to talk about that.
Siri is finally coming to the Mac, and while I'm excited about being able to let Siri handle some of the tasks on my computer, I'm a tiny bit underwhelmed at this point. I was hoping Siri would be able to do more on the Mac than it does on iOS or watchOS or tvOS (by the way, see how nice those look right next to each other?). I want to use Siri to launch my apps, Slack my co-workers, and brew me coffee. One day.
Other than that, I could give or take most of the new features. I'm not yet sold on the storage optimization features, I don't want my Desktop syncing across devices, and Apple Pay on the web is going to have me spending so much money.
Gartenberg and I don't agree about bagels and we don't agree about macOS Sierra. For me, it's one of the most important updates to date. It brings Siri to the Mac, which is huge for accessibility, it launches Apple into front-facing deep learning and computer vision, and it introduces a new, modern file system.
The other new features are nice to have. These three are critical to have. The only thing that remains to be seen is how well they work. For example, if they misidentify that thing from New York as a bagel...
Boring. If ever there was dot release, this is it. Little tweaks here and there, Oh, and Siri.
Finally, iOS 10. iMessage, Siri, Messages, and Maps APIs, Apple Music, Notifications, Photos, Home app and way more. What stood out to you?
There are just too many stand-out iOS 10 features to pick one — but I'll pick three. How about that? So first, Home: This is the app Apple should have built when it released HomeKit last year, but hey, better late than never.
The Music app's re-reinvention was necessary, and even though the giant bold-and-stark interface isn't my all-time favorite design scheme, it looks like it will be a monumental step forward in terms of easy touch targets and navigation.
But it's multi-pane Control Center that has me truly intrigued. We've asked for a customizable Control Center on iOS for years, and though that day is not quite here, adding sliding pop-over cards to Control Center makes this a step closer to reality. Currently, the two additional panes contain a Music and Home interface, but I can easily see a future where you can put widgets for your most-used apps inside Control Center, just a swipe or two away.
I like iMessage, and think the improvements are going to be a big deal for constant chatters, but the biggest addition to iOS 10, in my opinion, is 3D Touch. Sorry, you're saying that iOS 9 already supports 3D Touch? Yes, but not really.
In iOS 10, 3D Touch becomes an integral, almost necessary part of the workflow. Pressing into a notification opens a mini version of that app, minimizing the amount of time spent navigating between windows.
I love iOS 10. I love everything about it, from its genuinely useful facial recognition in the Photos app to a dedicated HomeKit portal. I love that widgets are finally going to be genuinely useful, wherever you happen to find them, be it in the Notification Center, Spotlight panel, or from the app icons themselves.
I love that I will finally be able to use WhatsApp as my default phone client directly from the dialler, and that thanks to at least three new comprehensive APIs, my favorite non-Apple apps will talk to the Apple apps I'm still forced, to some extent, to use.
Finally, I love that it still feels like there is a lot of slack left in the iOS rope, that Apple has not exhausted its trove of ideas.
The changes to Messages stood out the most to me, even though I think it is a bit silly. There are a lot of fun new features that will turn my standard text messaging app into a chat app. I'm all about slapping a buddy with a Bitmoji, but fireworks in the background is a bit much.
I'm excited about the design changes. I think the floating boxes look nice. I like how Apple has changed Notification Center and Control Center. The new gesture changes seem way more intuitive. I'm into the "Big. Bold. Beautiful" theme of the redesigned Music and News apps.
Developer access to Siri holds a lot of potential that I'm really looking forward to. I'm also excited about Siri intelligence on the keyboard. I think the new QuickType features are really going to make a difference in how we use our iPhone.
The upcoming app extensions might actually get me to start using Apple Maps. I've been unimpressed with the mapping service since the beginning. I got so used to Google Maps that I haven't even tried Apple Maps again. The ability to call for a ride or book reservations right inside the Maps app sounds way too cool to pass up, though.
Thank you for asking me what stood out, otherwise I'd be here all day recounting all the features of iOS. But seriously, there are so many new features.
- Messages: Messages got a lot of fancy new updates that'll have some celebrating while others groan. Apple's essentially taken the best (and, sometimes worst) of the current messaging app market and added it to the Messages app on iOS. I'm looking forward to Slack-style reactions for Messages; I'm not looking forward to full-screen fireworks punctuating every conversation with my partner.
- Siri: Siri is no longer a locked-in platform. That means one day I can say, "Hey Siri, send Daniel $45 to settle that bet," or, "Hey Siri, pay Lory for that whiskey she bought me," and Siri will do it. There are coming integrations with loads of different apps — devs just have to link up! I'm pumped for the possibilities.
- Home: Home is coming to iOS in a full-featured way, thanks to a HomeKit app made by Apple itself. I'm all-in on home automation technology, so I'm looking forward to an integrated way to control all my ridiculous home automation devices.
- Raise to Wake: Not a whole lot of people are talking about this, but the way iOS 10 has changed the process of viewing your lock screen and unlocking your device is going to be revolutionary. Sometimes I just want to see the notifications on my lock screen without accidentally logging in (darn you, far-too-fast Touch ID); iOS 10 makes it far easier to do that.
Can you have deep learning and artificial intelligence without opening yourself up to intrusive privacy violations. With iOS 10, Apple is claiming you can. Combining on-device processing, thanks to industry-leading silicon, with publicly available online information, and crowd-sourced data culled but not exposed thanks to differential privacy, the more paranoid among us may finally have a viable alternative to Google, Facebook, and the other data farms. It just has to work.
Meanwhile Messages has been delightful, the new notifications and widgets super-convenient, and the entire design more coherent.
I can't wait to see how the Siri, Maps, and Messages apps work out. Going app by app, and domain by domain is risky when competitors are throwing everything at the wall at once, but if Apple can nail the experience — and nail it internationally — it'll be better for everyone. At least for everyone on Apple's platforms.
Nice update. Nothing overly exciting. Opening up Siri is great, if it were actually opened up. A handful of app types doesn't do it for me. Open up Siri to everyone. Apple says it's coming. Let's see how it goes. Emoji everywhere? Yikes…. So not looking forward to folk overusing this. Might be the best reason for me to block you.
What will you remember most about your WWDC experience?
This was the third WWDC keynote I've attended, and quite possibly the best. Not for the content on-stage — for the venue. Right before the keynote started, with Beats 1 cruising in the background, I looked around to see thousands of excited developers, engineers, and media surrounding me on all sides in the Bill Graham Auditorium. Their pre-show — and mid-keynote — energy was undeniable, and such a different experience than watching the keynote up in Moscone West, where all the chairs are laid out on the flat in rows, with no real sense of the community around you.
In the early hours of the morning on June 13th, I walked through the quiet streets of San Francisco, past billion-dollar startups and homeless people huddled in corners. I sat on a bench with some superb coffee and thought about why this city is so beloved, in spite of its astronomical living costs. But then the sun pierced the cold fog, and I felt the heat, and finished my superb coffee, and spent the rest of the day interacting with some of the best people in the world. It was a great day.
This was my first time at WWDC, and the one thing that really stood out to me was how much of a community Apple has created. I've heard the term, and even used it myself a few times, but it really hits home just how much people come together over Apple's technology. It's not unlike attending a Star Wars convention. Everyone there is excited about the same thing and we all bond over talking about what we love.
The developers I talked to were all excited about what's to come. They are already working on ideas for how they can implement the many tools that Apple has finally opened up to them. The best of the best will rise to the top when iOS 10 comes out this fall.
Something that stood out to me during the keynote wasn't related to technology at all, actually. At the beginning of the event, Tim Cook came out on stage and asked that everyone take a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the Orlando tragedy. I don't think Apple of yesteryear would have asked for a moment of silence. I like The New Apple, and I'm proud to call myself an Apple customer and supporter.
The efforts of everyone involved, from those building and showing things off at Apple, to everyone who travelled and spent time and money to be there, to staffs at all the restaurants, bars, and venues who took such great care of everyone.
WWDC is the only remaining time and place where we all get together, and to me that in and of itself it immensely memorable.