WWDC 2017

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This has become an annual article for me and over the past few years I admit to a sense of anticlimax with what Apple has offered. It has been a steady stream of incremental updates designed to make the experience on macOS and iOS more stable, more efficient and with some small additions that did not seem important at the time.

However, many of these small changes have become part of each day for me and together they add up to an experience which has become more than familiar. This has led me to not be such a child and to not hanker for novelties or features that change things for the sake of it. When I think long term, I can appreciate the new bits and criticise them in a more logical way.

So, WWDC 2017 started with a brilliant film about making apps which was actually quite funny and then we had the usual ‘Apple is amazing’ numbers talk which was cut short, and then we found out why.

Amazon Video to Apple TV- about time.

Apple Watch Siri face- smart. Toy Story faces- nice, but no custom faces? Seriously that is crazy.

The Activity changes are subtle, but do just enough to keep the interest going. I love this part of the Apple Watch more than any other and it’s good to see some well thought out changes appear. Of particular note is the gym machine sharing of data which will be perfect for serious fitness people.

Overall the changes in watchOS fell short for me. I wrote before about how Apple needs to concentrate on making the core features better, but some customisation options woud have been nice.

macOS received many changes which will come together to make the experience better, but again nothing to change the world. Autoplay blocking is great and despite the fact that some will consider this another attempt by Apple to control things, 99% of us will be happy in this case. Intelligent Tracking Prevention is also useful in a world where some politicians are going crazy in this area.

 The new Photos features are nice, but boy does the system need some serious attention in terms of performance. Lots of new features and small enhancements, but I want to see if the performance has been refined here.

On the plus side, very old Macs are still supported. That is so impressive.

The new iMacs look great and the pricing is surprising. The entry level 4K iMac feels right to me and may appear in my house at some point.

With the iMac Pro at the top of the line, it was pleasing to see Apple devoting effort and resources to keeping the Mac line going. The lack of movement has been concerning, but just maybe the new momentum will be kept up over the next few years.

iOS 11 will naturally gain more attention and potentially have more impact than anything else Apple offers. Good to see Apple Pay payments to friends and improvements to the Siri voices. Some other features have been added to Siri, but we do need to see it match Amazon and Google in all areas for it to deserve the attention Apple gives it.

The new Control Centre feels like a decent way to get people using 3D Touch, but everything else was so incremental it was almost painful. Yes, I said at the start that these little things come together and work great over time, but it did not take long for me to be wanting more.

Nice to see the App Store changes which could bring back some excitement to the app world and offer much more focus on what is new. Currently, every app gets the same billing in a somewhat old fashioned interface and this adds variety and more weight to each release. Nice.

A lot of the demonstrations surrounded technology that may well be normal in a few years time and it is good to see Apple jumping in early(ish) for once, but obviously the focus was for developers at this event so I admit that I found myself staring out the window at the rain for long periods of time while VR was shown.

Overall, it didn’t feel like a new iOS in any way, but maybe the next iPhone will bring some software surprises with it.

The new iPad Pro was expected and does look very nice. At some point we will be using all screen devices, but until then this is a decent hardware offering. The full-sized onscreen and smart keyboards are advantageous, particularly for coders and writers, but with that should come more than the iOS we already use.

There are some amazing hardware features in the iPad Pro, better cameras and so much more, but how is it a ‘Pro’ device without multiple user support and standard stuff we expect on the likes of macOS. Apple will not sell more iPads just because of new hardware. The platform needs to change and sit somewhere in between macOS and iOS for the iPad to succeed.

STOP!

I am writing this as the announcement is happening and was surprised when they started talking about iPad iOS 11. A better dock, like the Mac, more natural multi-tasking and a really good app switcher. Drag and drop is huge, the new keyboard features help and then there is files. A proper file system (Finder) that means people like me could work on an iPad. Only a few new features and the possibilities started to become clear- it was that simple.

I am going to look into this more, but it feels possible that an iPad could work for my needs. Then again, a low-end MacBook is not much more expensive than an iPad Pro so where do they cross over? That question will be answered in the near future.

What is truly surprising is that iOS 11 is a BIG update for the iPad and barely moves for the iPhone. Does this mean that the iPhone 8 is different enough to wow us without significant software improvements? It really is hard to tell at this stage.

The HomePod was also expected and it looks quite nice (not as classy a design as I expected), but the ‘Siri’ word hangs over it like a disadvantage that many of us cannot forget. It is the least original delive Apple has released in a long time and I would be surprised if, after the initial rush, it becomes a huge seller. The emphasis on privacy is important and an advantage in a world where we all worry about what is being heard by our home devices, but the price of $349 feels steep to me and only hardens my guess that sales will not be big. Then again, maybe it isn’t meant to sell in big numbers and is just a vehicle for Apple Music to grow?

There was some good stuff in the keynote. I am pleased to see new Macs coming with really decent specs, I am pleased that the iPad will become more professional on the software side, but the HomePod and iPhone iOS 11 changes feel bereft of the excitement new Apple products should bring. For me, it is a case of some good, some boring and some that barely even registered with me.

It was a typical Apple keynote and I may be looking at it all too negatively because we are in the process of an election that could be disastrous and heading towards Brexit practically blindfolded. Our Summer in the UK appears to be over after 2 weeks of sunshine and people keep killing us because we just live our lives the way we always have. An Apple keynote should not be as important as any of the above, and it isn’t of course, but it can be a bright spark when times are bad. The light just didn’t shine brightly enough for me this year, but I remain to be surprised by what follows.

4 thoughts on “WWDC 2017

  1. I was underwhelmed — but then I’m not entirely sure why I watched a product launch from a commercial organisation…

    I like the look of the new Apple file system, and its encryption support, so I’ll be keen to give that a go.

    I welcome Amazon Prime Video coming to the Apple TV, but at the same time I’m irritated that it was a fight over money which kept it off there in the first place.

    I’m disappointed — but not wholly surprised — that the Mac Mini was not mentioned at all, and that the MacBook Air received an even small update than most of the announcements.

    The new App Store looks a mess, to my mind. Perhaps it is just me, but I don’t wake up thinking “I really must see what new apps have been released today”. I tend to find I need a capability to do [x], and then go looking for an app which does it.

    Some interesting privacy features for Safari, but it appears that Siri will stalk you around your own device rather more than it does so far.

  2. I was very impressed during the keynote, but on review I didn’t see as much to hang on to. Like you, I can see the iPad becoming my main machine at some point. I’m so sorry for all the angst around the terrorist attacks and election. If the people aren’t terrorized by the attacks, then the terrorists should eventually stop, you’d think.

  3. It was a pretty good show. Much better than last year. And Tim Cook almost said “One more thing”.

    Nice upgrade to MacOS and the iMacs, finally. I’m not as interested in the MacBooks any more since I retired and spend most of my computing time at my desk. The iMac Pro is quite something. I wish I needed that kind of power.

    Big warning and Apple money grab. The new 27″ iMac and iMac Pro do not have user replaceable memory. If I want 32GB like I have in my current machine, it’ll cost an extra $720 Cdn. Even without doing an extended search, I found the equivalent at $500. So the lower prices are offset by forcing you to pay for memory. And face it, anyone who buys a 27″ iMac is going to want more than 8GB.

    I’ll be interested to see how useful the Files app really is. Hopefully it’s more than simply another way to Open With. An iPad Pro with iOS 11 is starting to look like a real portable computer. Again, unfortunately, much as I’d like it, I wouldn’t use it enough to justify it. I use my iPad Mini 2 for reading and playing the odd game.

    I guess I’ll have to seriously evaluate my 32-bit apps. I still have an old iPhone 5 and iPad 3 to use if there’s something I can’t live without.

    The speaker is nice, but not something I’m interested in.

  4. Apparently I’ve been misled by a number of articles on the memory thing. On the Apple Store page under tech specs, it says ” four SO-DIMM slots, user accessible”. Unless that’s just to look at, it means that the user can change the memory which makes much more sense for a desktop machine.

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