Apple’s WWDC 2017 Keynote — The Stuff I Care About

This is the first Apple WWDC Keynote in as long as I can remember where I haven’t been blown away by any of the announcements. That’s not to say I’m not happy with what’s coming and feel that Apple is on the right track, I just think we’ve reached a point where these products have matured so much that it’s more refinements than huge leaps forward.

Here’s a list of the things Apple announced I’m most excited about in the order they were announced.

WatchOS 4

  • Siri Watch Face — this could be really helpful or something I’ll use once and never touch again. I’m intrugied to see how it will work.
  • New Workout Option — Love the ability to switch to a new type of workout. The current process of stoppping and starting everytime I switch my routine is tedious.
  • New Music Watch App — Looks nice and might make it more usable than the current experience.

MacOS High Sierra

  • Not too much here, mainly optimizations, but the VR stuff is great and shows that Apple is trying it’s darnedest not to miss out on the next wave in gaming — Virtual Reality.

iOS 11

  • Messages in iCloud — I can’t believe it’s 2017 and this is just now coming out. Not only will it be great for keeping messages unified across devices, but the real killer feature is the space it will save with storing the bulk of old messages and assets in the cloud. This is usually the biggest waster of space I see on people’s phones and should prevent a lot of iCloud Backup space from being wasted.
  • ApplePay Person-to-Person — This was inevitable and so welcomed. Between Venmo, Square, Facebook and the myriad of other payment apps out there, there’s no single solution that has been mass adopted. Hopefully this will change that for iPhone users.
  • Siri — Improvements here look really good, but I’ll need to see them in the wild to say is they’re useful or just look good in a keynote. The Translation Beta is really nice and is a great use of Apple leveraging its dominance in multi-langual smart assistant technology. This has the potential to be game changing in the coming years.
  • Depth API/ARkit — Really intersted to see how developers and Apple will use Depth and Augmented Reality. The rumors of iPhone 8 switching to dual-lens in vertical format are due to help with depth perception in portrait mode (so I’ve heard) and this just gives more fuel to the fire that the next iPhone will go “all in” on AR.
  • Live Photo Edits — Most of these editing abilitites and functionality are available with 3rd party apps, although not sure about the gorgeous “time lapse” option, however having them natively built-in is so much easier.
  • App Store Redesign — It was funny to see Phil Schiller reminisce about the days of old with the App Store when you could pop in each day and discover something new. Now it’s like walking into Costco and almost impossible to discover anything exciting. The new design looks nice and may truly incraease discoverability.

iPad

  • The 10.5" iPad Pro — looks nice but as a user of the barely-a-year-old 9.7" Pro model, I don’t see any compelilng reason to upgrade personally. The true test will be holding it in person and seeing if it forces me to sell my current model and upgrade to the slightly bigger version.
  • iOS 11 iPad Features — This was my favorite part of the whole keynote. The iPad is finally becoming the iOS / MacOS hybrid that I’ve wanted it to be. There will be some getting used to the new gestures but it looks like a fantastic upgrade and definitely a reason I’ll be installing the iOS 11 beta on it ASAP.

HomePod

  • I’m still on the fence with HomePod. I do like that it’s “supposed” to sound amazing, despite only being around 7" tall, but in a household with an Amazon Echo and 2 Echo Dots, I find it hard to believe that I’ll want to drop $350 on another speaker, especailly when it won’t control all my non-Homekit smart home devices. I’ll reserve full judgement until I get a chance to use one in person in December.

Again, nothing here had me dropping my jaw in shock or chomping at the bit to upgrade, with the exception of the iPad updates. I think this is a good thing though — Apple should keep nailing the things it does well, innovating where it needs to and not spreading itself too thin. This is exactly why all these features they announced will be out in a few months, unlike Google where it’s a crapshoot if 50% of the things they announce at I/O will ever see the light of day.

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