Though WWDC is mainly for developers, there was a lot there for end users as well. Here are my thoughts on what I thought was the news of the day.


The biggest news, IMHO, was the speaker long-rumored from Apple called HomePod. Clearly aimed at the likes of Amazon's Echo and Google Home, HomePod takes an entirely different approach: the gateway is music (and, of course, Apple Music for now). Phil Schiller spent a lot of time talking about the new technology that makes HomePod special and stand out from the crowd, not only from Amazon and Google, but from companies like Sonos as well.

Of course, since Siri is onboard, HomePod will answer all the major queries users want, from weather to alarms. It's too early to tell how well this all works. Apple says shipments will start in December, which suggests these things are likely going to be as scarce as hen's teeth or AirPods. From an end user perspective, this was the big news of the day. Given the price point relative to the competition and late ship date, I don't think this will affect either Amazon or Google at least for this holiday season, but I think at this point, the home speaker wars have taken a new turn.

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Apple's definitely looking to be a player here with some very nice developer tools to turn your iPhone or iPad into the gateway to AR. We have heard from both Google and Microsoft on their approaches, which are based around new hardware. The focus on making AR accessible to everyone with an Apple device is great but does beg the question of what comes next. There's no hurry, though. Like iPod or iPhone being first, it didn't make all the difference; just ask Microsoft or Nokia.

macOS High Sierra — a word or two. Ok, I'm done. It's been some time since we have seen a real significant update to macOS (other than a name change). This year was no different.

iOS 11

This is a big deal, as it highlights the transition from a phone operating system based on OS X to something truly in and of itself: a platform for productivity optimized for touch. There's a lot here, most of it directed at iPad users with the addition of a full file system and new features such as drag and drop for split screen apps. As someone who can use an iPad for almost everything (except Skype recordings… aarrggh), it's an important step forward.

It's also two steps back for a lot of users. The beauty of iOS was the simplicity of not dealing with the ancient concept of a hierarchical file system. Of course, more sophisticated users such as your truly, who view an iPad Pro as a great post-PC device, are happy. For mainstream users, it's bringing to iPad the things they happily have left behind. That said, I do think Apple's approach is a great one. Those who need it, use it. Yet I still wonder if iOS is on a quest to be the OS of both today and tomorrow but struggles with what it is and who it's for. For now, this is the closest you'll get to a touch-based macOS.

10.5-inch iPad Pro

Wow, beautiful hardware that almost makes me want one. My BabyPro (as @settern calls them) work just fine for me. It's an amazing leap forward with all of the next generation features I'd love to use. The only problem I have with it is neither hardware nor software. It's the same issue of just who is the iPad for? I know during my tenure at Apple this was an issue that was struggled with over and over, starting with the fantastic "You Verse" campaign that sold iPads but didn't resonate to anyone who wasn't sleeping on the side of a mountain or running a wind farm.

Feels like there's a much greater push toward the PC replacement, but at the moment it's still a category that's in search of a user base. Still, if you believe in a pure tablet device, nothing on the market can come even close to Apple's current lineup.

One of Apple's strengths has always been the ability to tell a great narrative to drive a product category. iPad still feels like a category where the 10-word answer to why it exists remains elusive.

New Mac devices (happy, Phil?)

The new iMacs do look stunning, and if anything, they are about as good as it's going to get for the pro market, at least for now. Truth is, unless you really crave modularity, the new iMac devices, especially the pro model, will meet almost all needs. Until that long-awaited Mac Pro refresh comes along. Oh, and there's still a MacBook Air hanging around if you want one

In conclusion

I repeat: Developer conferences are for developers, so I wasn't disappointed. Things like the new ARKit mean developers can tap into into things that weren't there before and can offer up new foundations for hardware not yet seen.

WWDC 2020


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