I was very pleased with the WWDC keynote this year. For me it signified something powerful that I think people massively underestimate:
Apple is putting massive effort into making technology invisible within our lives.
What I noticed most from this year’s updates is focus on reducing technology friction. Smooth transitions between workflows. Making things imperceptibly simple. Etc.
It was less about 3 killer new features, and more about 100 small features that make things more natural and/or more meaningful.
Here are a few features that I particularly noticed, which I’m commenting on in the order found on my buddy Robert’s blog post on the features:
There is a new SOS feature on the Apple Watch that lets anyone call and talk to emergency services, no matter where you are in the world. You press and hold the bottom button, and you’re on live with emergency services. And when the call is over, it sends your location to your loved ones, and turns on your medical badge on your watch for when the ambulance arrives.
This shows me they’re starting from how we live our lives, and how they can improve that, vs. starting with technology.
The breathe app is excellent, as it’s something I’ve been working into my daily routine anyway. I think it’s way more beneficial than standing up, which I disable.
Apple Pay for websites.
This is just colossal. I think Apple Pay is about to become the dominant payment system in the U.S., and I’m happy that Samsung Pay will follow its lead. If I am pulling out a credit card, I consider that a failure on the part of the merchant. Extending that to web purchases is quite welcome for me.
Single-sign-on for Apple TV. That’s nice, but more of a “solve the obvious stupidity” than adding something nice.
Switching the name of OS X to macOS is nice. It brings consistency.
The continuity piece, which they talked about constantly, is precisely the point that I’m making about seamless integration.
Universal clipboard is another invisible technology feature. It works like it should have all along.
iCloud Drive becoming more like Dropbox, which is a good thing.
Picture in picture on AppleTV seems like it’ll be major for a lot of people, but it’s not the type of thing I’d ever use.
I like Siri on the desktop, just as I’ve liked Cortana. I feel like AI and microphone technology is going to need one or two more leaps before it becomes a truly adopted feature, though.
The iOS features were my absolute favorites of the show.
You now just lift your phone to see and interact with your notifications. Massive improvement.
You also need to click the home button to enter your phone now, which is something I’m still acclimating to. I think it’s something I’ll like, but I’m not sure.
I love the increased context awareness in recommended responses. That’s the type of thing that AI is going to be really good for. If someone asks for common things, it’ll look those things up for you and offer you suggestions, like your current location, or contact info for people.
I thought we already had face recognition in Photos. Not sure what that was about. But I do like the moments functionality, especially the auto-generated compilation movies.
Apple Music looks to be much better, but there’s no way to know if it’s really good until I try to use it for a few weeks, and see if it’s intuitive. I’m hopeful, but not optimistic. Unsupervised Learning — Security, Tech, and AI in 10 minutes… Get a weekly breakdown of what's happening in security and tech—and why it matters.
The Home app is one that I’m most excited about. That’s been SO needed. This allows you to control your house as one unit, using the HomeKit integrations. And it’s Siri-aware! Can’t wait to mess with that stuff.
Voicemails are now transcribed to text. Nice minor feature.
I love how developers are going to be getting so much access to these features, with the spam protection option for the Phone app being great.
The Cisco Spark integration is major. It turns your iPhone into an extended work phone. I think this is one of the under-appreciated features of the show.
Getting VoIP calls from third party apps now looks just like a regular incoming phone call, which is spectacular.
Messages was the one feature I did not like a lot of. I thought many of the features were far too gimmicky. I understand they need to compete with Snapchat and Facebook Messenger, but they’re supposed to do it from the high ground. Not just jump in with both feet and act exactly the same. I think the fact that you don’t HAVE to use those features makes it tolerable, though.
Love the focus on privacy at the end. Definitely the company for me in terms of having the trust to manage my life ecosystem.
The Swift Playgrounds app was spectacular. Once again, they made it more about teaching the world to code, and less about the tool. Exactly the correct approach.
I also really appreciated the updates to the Apple Watch. The interface is far more intuitive now, with the bottom button getting you to the Dock, and swiping from the bottom showing you a control center. Can’t wait for the new hardware.
The Maps application got MAJORLY upgraded. I absolutely love the new interface, the new way to search for different types of businesses, and the integrations with third party services like Uber and Lyft.
The other big piece was how much they opened to developers. Just about everything they talked about is now getting an SDK. That’s the way to go. I just hope they understand the implications for some of the pieces. Lots of power there that can potentially be attacked if implemented poorly.
Thanks to Robert for the great features breakdown, and let me know if there are any high points that I missed.