Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Four takeways from Apple's WWDC 2016 keynote

new software

For once, Apple is didn't talk about the big numbers like the adoption rate of iOS or how mac is compared to the competition, they only talked about the App Store hitting 2 million application and that's it.

This year's WWDC keynote ended up being a little dry because Apple didn't show any new hardware at all. That was well expected because previous reports have indicated that Apple has chosen to do so. No new MacBooks and no new Apple Watches, it's just a lot of new software. But even without the hardware, the keynote itself wasn’t overly boring. It was in the middle in terms of Apple keynotes and I was actually quite impressed with some of the things that they showed off in upcoming versions of Apple software. 
You could easily argue that most of the things that Apple announced were merely just things that competitors have already done in the past. But, this is Apple after all and the features that they (allegedly) borrowed over from others companies did transition into a better product overall. As always, Apple made things look extra special with their presentation style and some of the new features are actually cool.

Emoji

The most notable thing has got to be emojis and specifically on the stock messaging app on iOS 10 (AKA iMessage). There is no denying that Emojis is one of the best things about using an iOS device because Apple just does it better. Here's a fun fact, prior to Android 4.4 Kitkat, emojis on Android are just black and white.

iMessage might not be the most used messaging app due to it's exclusivity in the Apple ecosystem but the new features aim to get more people to use it. The features are so interesting that I wish I had an iOS device to use iMessage. It's not the most groundbreaking thing but ability to automatically change words in to emojis is a nice touch and the invisible ink feature is as cool as it sounds.

Some of this features remind me of Google's two new apps called Duo and Allo which was announced during Google I/O this year. Apple clearly thought it was a good idea. However, one thing that Apple didn't include with the new iMessage is the AI bots like Google or Facebook.





Unifying macOS

Apple still believes that every platform should have it's own name and that is why the renamed OS X into macOS. They might not be going the same route like Microsoft by merging their mobile and desktop operating system into one but macOS Sierra and iOS does show that Apple is interested in unifying some parts of their operating systems.

There is still no no clear indication that Apple plans to bring touch to the Mac but the announcement of the new Universal Clipboard feature. What this feature does is that users will be able copy and paste from iPad to Mac and vice versa. All of this is made possible with iCloud and during a demo, Apple showcased how easy it would be to annotate on an image with the Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro and just pasting it onto a document open on the computer.

This rules out the possibility of touch on the mac for the time being as Apple is clearly trying to address the fact that there is no easy way to draw on the Mac. I personally this feature is downright useful but it does require that you are invested in the Apple ecosystem. My hope now is that Microsoft will bring such a feature to Windows 10 and also ad support to do it on both Android and iOS. If they do end up doing so, that would be so cool.

Siri

macOS Sierra will finally bring Siri onto the Mac and this means that Siri is now available on all Apple products from the Apple Watch all the way to the TV. Siri's arrival doesn't sound too exciting since Microsoft has already brought their own personal assistant to Windows 10 but Apple wasn't focusing too much on that. What they did focus on is how they are redefining artificial intelligence.
"Siri is now available on all Apple products"
According to Apple, they are not playing any dirty tricks when it comes to processing personal information like the one you communicate with Siri and they are doing so by the concept of Differential Privacy which is a scientific method to collect and analyze data from users like usage patterns or just interaction methods. This way of processing information is a righteous way according to Apple as the whole process doesn't compromise the user's privacy. You can read more in this article on WIRED as they explain it better than me.

Swift Playgrounds

Finally, out of surprise, Apple shows off it's the new app that will be released to the App Store later this year. It's called Swift Playgrounds and while Apple is targeting the app for children, it could be easily used by anyone at any age. The purpose of this application is to teach children how to read and write code. The app looks very promising and interactive to an extent that I want to try it out myself.

This is actually the first time that Apple is taking the initiative to spread the word about computer science and it might just be because they want to the next generation of creators to embrace their own programming language but Apple might have a winning combination here since there are millions of iPad around the world and children do love playing games on the iPad. For years, Apple has been providing scholarships for students that create innovative iOS apps and each year, they tend to highlight them during the WWDC keynote.

Learn more about the Computer Science movement here


Insider Talk

This is my fifth time covering WWDC (but it's a long time since I've talked about it, the last time being WWDC 2014) and it's probably the best one yet if you compare it against other software announcements in past keynotes. I like the fact that Apple didn't take their time to compare numbers between competitors and they just focused on the thing that matters.