Monday, June 10, 2013

"Live Blogging" Apple's WWDC 2013

Really not a live blog, but rather me putting down my impressions as a developer while watching the keynote remotely.

Summary: Unless you're an Apple fan-boy, don't bother watching the keynote. News of interest:

  • They really have improved Siri.
  • They have been working with Bing in Siri. But Google search still seems to be the default.
  • They really did rip off Windows 8/Windows 8 Phone for the new iOS UI. It is, of course, done in an Apple manner, but really it is pale and generally flat and ugly. I'd have to say I actually prefer the looks of Microsoft's UI, which is a statement I never thought I'd make. However, I suspect that Apple will have done a better job of usability than Microsoft did. It will be interesting to see how long-time iOS users will react to the new interface. Navigation had some significant changes in many apps [they are now a lot like Google apps]. It's not the duct-tape job Microsoft did in Windows 8, but it does seem that some relearning will be necessary.
  • If you are an exclusive user of Apple products, the new iWork is interesting.
  • Some will be thrilled about the battery life in the MacBook Air refresh, but that is mostly the Haswell chip, this will become the new norm. Apple subtly tried to make it appear this was mostly their own doing.
  • All-in-all iOS 7 still lags the currently available version of Android, with Siri being its only bright spot.
  • Given Apple's litigious response to Android, I find it annoying they so freely borrowed from Android and Windows 8/Windows 8 Phone.

Below, comments in square brackets were added after the event.

It starts by Apple making excuses for not being innovative... the are "perfecting". It is a text only presentation on the screen, feels like a brainwashing attempt.

Now, Tim Cook.

Two thirds of attendees are here the first time.  Why?
[This actually bothers me a lot... developer conferences used to be attended by a core group... sounds like they are getting fan-boys (explains some of the cheering about things that were actually bad and not worthy of a cheer).]

Not going to have live coverage of the sessions, but will provide videos online.
[Apple and Microsoft both lag severely here.]

Telling us about Apple Stores... Why?
Going on an on about an Apple store in an historic building... Why?
Now showing a video of the historic Apple Store looks like an Apple Store in a less sterile environment.
 "Only Apple could do this"
Why are they doing this?
[This was a total waste of developer time. Yes Apple has Stores... there was no big news. Yes Apple has tons of money, they can waste some (probably quite a lot) putting a store in an historic building.]

Going over app store numbers. It is well known their lead is lessening... not the story they are telling. Clearly they are nervous about losing developers. Showcasing "Anki" some sort of robotics place. They're crazy... using iOS to do hardware work. Only works because they are using Bluetooth LE. Minor hiccup (all hail the demo gods). I am watching 4 toy cars go in a circle. "This is a video game in the real world". Weakest demo I've seen in quite some time. Looks like a cute toy potentially. No idea why they led with this.

Mac vs PC growth 15% vs 3% over 5 years.
Bragging about customer satisfaction.
Apparently Mountain Lion had good adoption rate... Tim Cook poked fun at Windows 8's adoption rate.
(Shooting fish in a barrel there.)

"Don't want to be the first release to be delayed because they ran out of cat names."
Next [MacOS X] release will be "Sea Lion"? No.... OS X Mavericks (a California place name).

Finder Tabs (makes finder work ok in full screen mode), Tagging, Multiple Displays: fixed some bugs with full screen support. Apple TV can now be used as a full fledged extra display.
Wow, they are starting with this? These are cute cleanup features, but nothing major.

They seem to have done a fair bit of work on improving battery life. Most  (possibly all) of the optimizations described were done in other OSes some time ago. Added a compressed memory option... not sure how I feel about this one... memory is cheap.

Safari seems to have gotten minor improvements... still seems to lag everyone else. Put up some very questionable benchmark results. In particular he did not list what versions of the browsers he was comparing against. I suspect it is because so many Mac users that are using Chrome and Firefox. I don't know a Mac user that still uses Safari (primarily). They have improved usability of the reading list.

iCloud Keychain - LastPass competitor... I assume this will as usual be an Apple only solution. He says that it will be available across all my systems... but I suspect he is lying... he means all my Apple systems. [Yes, there is an iOS version too. Safari integration.]

Catching up in notification realm.

Finally allowing push notifications to a Mac... again an Apple only solution... Google much better here.

Calendar now looks a lot like Google Calender.

Maps... hahahaha. Does have a send to iPhone option.

They are bring iBooks to the Mac... both users that have purchased books via iBooks can now read them there as well.

Giving Maps demo... a very canned one using the Eiffel Tower... it is surprisingly sluggish.
They are attempting to directly rip off Google Maps in terms of interface. Again, the send to iPhone is good... bet Google has it within a month :-).

Man, they made the Calendar interface complicated... they are giving you features like restaurant lookup, etc... but it's pretty crowded... not like a usual Apple interface.

iBooks seems to be sluggish. It appears to be significantly slower than Amazon Cloud Reader (which at least has an excuse of being a generic web app).

Only a preview is available today... GA "in the Fall". Why?
[The changes really are not that big... why is it taking so long?]

Talking about MacBook Air. New line of MacBook Air... all day battery life (good... I'm watching on an 11" MacBook Air... has about 3 hour battery life). 11" going to 9 hours of battery life.
Going to 802.11ac Wifi. Shipping today, doubled the standard SSD size, same pricing.

"Sneak Peek" Mac Pro... really, just a sneak peek? Long, draw out, boring video that will hopefully actually show the Mac Pro soon.... It appears to be a cylinder.  "Can't innovate any more, my ass"... really Apple, you are calling THAT innovation.... perhaps you really cannot innovate any more. Looks like they are finally giving the Mac Pro a refresh, but really it is not anything that amazing. They keep bragging about how much better it is than the earlier Mac Pro... but come on that was years ago. It looks good... but this is a "sneak peek". Coming "later this year", assembled in USA.

Going to iCloud now. Deeply integrating with iWork... more catch up. And I bet it will only work with Apple. Oops... wrong here... they are making it work in a browser as well (thus PC support). Demo... sluggish, sluggish, sluggish!!!! Does have nice drag and drop integration. Keynote seems to work well in the browser, not really sluggish at all. They did not show enough of Numbers for me to really have an opinion. Showing it work in Chrome under Windows 8, say it will work in IE as well. Today, developer beta. Will be release "later in the year".
[They did not say anything about collaboration!}

Moving to iOS.
Having to talk about web usage share, because the statistics are so grim elsewhere.
Bragging about customer satisfaction again... however most recent surveys show Samsung as #1. Taking shots at Android over updates (don't blame them... Android deserves that criticism).

iOS 7.
Another annoying video... they keep delaying letting you actually see anything. Jon Ivey talking very slowly in the video... get on with it!  OMG, they really are ripping off Windows 8/Windows 8 Phone. It is awful!
Wasting battery life gratuitously using translucence and doing 3D graphics and using motion sensor to make desktop background shift as you move the phone (i.e. the icons stay static but the background moves). I'm tempted to stop watching... this is just silly.

They have done a lot of work to get a common app look and feel. Same boring apps though (lots of white backgrounds like in Google apps). A lot of their app design comes from ripping off Goggle. They have added a lot of gratuitous animations (for example weather shows an animation of each cities weather in the list).

Control Center... has a flashlight mode.

Finally going to have multitasking for all apps. Still seems weak compared to Android. Seems to still not support services.

Safari... still in catch-up mode. Clearly looking at Android Chrome for design.

Control Center is something Android has had for years. But Android's is much more flexible as it is based on desktop widgets.

Added AirDrop support to iOS.

Camera: more catch-up to Android.

[Well, at least there was one piece of positive news for Apple.]
New Siri, definitely surpasses current Google Now... unclear how it relates to the new beta features Google demoed at Google I/O, but I very much suspect a Siri lead.

iTunes Radio.  Yawn. Don't like Google's either. [Will stay with Pandora... might try Spotify next time Pandora comes up for renewal.]

Other features. Mostly more catch-up.

Added an Activation Lock to prevent phone theft.

Gave brief summary of new APIs... does not appear to have opened up iCloud as many expected. Apple, still very much a closed shop! I didn't see anything of interest at all. It was very brief.

iO7 Beta available today  (iPhone only, iPad soon). Coming this fall. iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later.
[I'm less surprised about this not being ready as they rearchitected most of the app UIs.]

[This felt wrong for a developer keynote. Given the extremely brief API overview and all that fluff at the beginning, it seems to imply that there is not much new for developers. Even the 50 billion downloads figure was released some time ago.]

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