Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference (better referred to as ‘WWDC’) just ended at Moscone West in San Francisco. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, assisted by senior VPs, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi, launched the new versions of iOS, OS X, and watchOS.
First up on the ledger was OS X. Last summer, Apple launched Mac OS X Yosemite. Today, Apple announced that Yosemite will give way to a new operating system named Mac OS X “El Capitan.” Over the course of the OS X presentation, I remember at least three of the presenters pronouncing this new name differently. Hopefully, the operating system itself will be much easier to use than to pronounce. If so, then it will be a true upgrade to a generally well-faring Yosemite.
The demo for ‘El Capitan’ revealed some intriguing UX-related changes to Apple Mail and Spotlight. However, for the most part, it seems to be a “faster, stronger, lighter” upgrade to Yosemite.
Moving on, Federighi also announced the progress of Apple’s iOS ecosystem. According to Apple’s data, iOS 8 has been dowloaded by 83% of users (meaning only 17% of Apple products users still use iOS 7 and below). This is great news for developers in particular because it means they can integrate the latest core technologies and updates of iOS 8 (and now the newly minted iOS 9) without having to worry about not reaching a large user base.
Apple Maps improves transportation
Perhaps the most interesting portion of the iOS presentation was in regards to Apple’s development of its Maps app. Now, the Apple Maps app will feature detailed information about subway routes in some of the world’s busiest and largest cities.
Federighi announced that the detailed public transit routes will feature in six American cities: Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Our neighbors to the north — Toronto — and the south — Mexico City — will also partake in this public transit mapping. Worldwide, London, Berlin, and some cities in China will also feature.
Apple’s dynamic, versatile programming language Swift will also feature some updates. Swift 2.0 will bring new paradigms that assist in the testing, developing, and distribution of apps. When Apple announced Swift last year at WWDC 2014, it was received with much enthusiasm and acclaim. Now, that a full year has passed, developers are still gushing over the innovative language and, as a result, Swift 2.0 will bring small timely and iterative changes.
Finally, Federighi announced with unbridled joy that Swift will now be open source, which garnered much applause and fanfare from the audience.
Apple Watch and watchOS
Apple Watch, released just over six weeks ago, will feature some key updates to the current offering. Namely, watchOS 2 will feature new watch backgrounds. The time lapse background, featuring cities like New York and London, seemed especially noteworthy of all the additions to the watch faces.
One More Thing…Apple Music!
The highlight of the event was the arrival of Apple’s digital streaming service, Apple Music. This portion of the presentation took around thirty to forty minutes and even Eddy Cue’s samba talents couldn’t save it from slowly (and sometimes painfully) dragging onwards.
Cue, with the help of the rapper, Drake, who made a brief appearance to exalt about his music career, highlighted and demoed the new app. Personally, I don’t know if Apple has made enough strides to convince Spotify or Pandora users to make the shift to Apple Music.
The “Connect” feature in the app will allow users to follow their favorite musicians as they reveal bits and pieces of their creation process. However, if Apple Music wants to be a truly integrative and holistic arena for music to thrive, then it seems as if its work is cut out. For instance, I don’t anticipate superstars like Jay-Z or Beyonce leaving their new offering, Tidal, to help the “Connect” section of Apple Music prosper. Without these big-name talents, I can’t fathom how the “Connect” section can thrive.
So, while the theatrical entrance of Apple Music at WWDC 2015 may seem to cast it as the “next big thing,” it may simply have to take a backseat to the giants of the field (like Spotify) for now.
Overall, the keynote was worth watching; however, the most important and impactful updates are generally occurring at the smaller aspects of the Apple ecosystem. Apple Maps and its new public transportation feature can produce some valuable experiences for its users. Swift 2.0 can enable developers to produce even greater apps.
And, Apple Music, the project Tim Cook professed he was “most excited to reveal” to the audience, may have been one of the least exciting reveals at WWDC 15.