WWDC 2012 and iOS 6: What we didn't get
Expectations were high for the iOS 6 announcement at WWDC today, and many of them were met, but there were a lot of others that didn't. Rene has blown through a ton of features on competing smartphone platforms that could find a comfortable home on iOS. Even though some of those areas will be seeing improvement in iOS 6, it might not be enough for everyone. So, what did we not get from the WWDC keynote?
Apple TV apps and SDK
We didn't think Apple TV apps were likely, but still rumors were kept popping up about an Apple TV announcement at WWDC 2012. Well, not surprisingly, none of them panned out for the keynote. At best, we got some extended AirPlay for OS X.
Who knows what Apple will do in the future, but for the time being, Apple TV is going to be staying right where it is. In a tiny, locked down box.
Core interface improvement
If you've been using an iPhone since its inception, odds are some of you might be a little bored with the core user interface (Springboard) and have at least flirted with the idea of jailbreaking just for a change of scenery. Even after iOS 6 drops, odds are good that jailbreakers will still have a lot to do.
Apple has added plenty of little additions over the years, like the slide-down Notification Center, multi-touch app switching and closing, folders, and a dedicated universal search screen.
So far, there's nothing as visually pronounced as any of that in iOS 6, though it is in beta and new features are likely to be added between now and the fall.
While we did get a fresh coat of paint, with some new silvers and blues on the core Apple apps, we didn't get anything as ambitious as theme selector, that could offer users a bit more customization to keep things fresh.
Besides that, if the iPhone 5 turns out to have a 4-inch display, we'll at least get to enjoy an extra row of icons, maybe more...
Although Siri got a lot of love in iOS 6, including fresh outside data for movies, restaurants, and sports, as well as some promised in-car integration, Apple isn't throwing open the doors to third party developers just yet.
The closest we got is the ability for Siri to open applications that you have installed on your iOS device, which is certainly a step in the right direction.
Of course, there's a ton of potential for developers that have access to a native, reliable voice recognition system, but in the end, Siri is still in beta and will stay there for the foreseeable future.
Notification Center API
Notification Center creaked open a little bit to accommodate a new Facebook button and a new Do Not Disturb toggle, but it is still very much a walled garden in that developers can't get much more than little bullet point pop-ups in there.
The real fun will start when developers can make full-width static, custom, interactive units for Notification Center like the current options for weather and stocks. Even some more interactive pop-ups that would allow you to take quick actions without having to switch apps would be really nice, but for the time being, all of that rests squarely in the realm of wishful thinking and jailbreak hackery.
Better file management
It sure would be nice to be able to flip through your iPhone's file system sometimes, but it's still something Apple is keeping out of reach for everyday users without the help of a third-party app (and even then, they're limited).
Now we can drop pictures into e-mails a little more easily, but you can't do the same thing for documents for whatever reason. Apple's iron grip on file access severely limits functionality for tech-savvy users, and until iOS relaxes a bit, those users will drift towards Android.
Quick replies and toggles
Needless to say, SBSettings style quick Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other toggles were nowhere to be found, nor were BiteSMS style in-app quick responders. We'd hoped for both, but now we can hope again for iOS 7...
App Store improvements
The App Store app did get a visual refresh and Facebook integration may aid in discoverability for people who use Facebook (which not everyone does), but missing was any sign of Apple's recent Chomp purchase, and better search overall.
At the end of the day, we'll get the apps that make developers money. If the only way for developers to make money are shallow $0.99 niche apps, or super-addictive, annoying, video-lottery style freemium games, that's what we'll get.
Apple owns the platform. Sure, it's a multi-billion dollar balancing act, but they're the ones in charge of the balance. They can tweak the mechanics so developers have better opportunities for premium apps and games, and are incentivized to make them.
Personally, I'm happy with the improvements in iOS 6. Even though none of them individually really stick out as game-changers, and in fact a lot of them felt like they were just catching up to the competition (adding photos from e-mail compose window, turn-by-turn directions, Facebook integration), combined they're filling vital function gaps. iOS 6 is not only pushing signature features to new heights (huge improvements in Siri, iMessage in OS X, Facetime over cellular), but also introducing some new ones (Passbook, Guided Access).
It's safe to say that the new Mac hardware really stole the show WWDC, but I have a good feeling that the announcement of the iPhone 5 this fall will springboard nicely off the iOS 6 stuff announced today.
What would you have liked to have seen from iOS 6? On the whole, are you happy with all of the new additions, or is there a missing feature that could be a dealbreaker for you when it comes to picking up an iPhone 5 down the road?