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Apple WWDC Keynote Observations

Posted on | June 10, 2013 | No Comments

I managed to watch the Apple WWDC keynote today, and wrote up a few first impressions. This is by no means a list of the announcements — consider it my list of observations about what the announcements mean:

  1. Apple is converging the mobile and desktop experiences on an OS and application level.
    1. We’re moving from a world were applications and data are constrained to devices,  to one in which all your devices share the same core applications and your content is semi-seamlessly available. This integration also enhances the stickiness of the overall Apple platform for end users, for better or worse.
      1. Bookmarks shared from Safari OSX to Safari iOS
      2. Share a location from your desktop Apply map to your iPhone
      3. Safari can open the pages being viewed on your desktop
  2. New iOS UX gems refresh iOS “remarkableness.” These features are important to Apple because they fuel buzz and differentiate the iPhone in an increasingly commoditized smartphone landscape.
    1. Parallax is one of those unexpected features that people will want to show their friends as soon as they’ve upgraded to iOS7. It’s not revolutionary, but it is magical in it’s own way and the kind of feature that people will remark about.
    2. Glass-like UI overlays also create a perception of depth in what is otherwise a constrained and two-dimensional display. Apple is really pushing the use of space on the iPhone display to get the most out of it.
    3. Automatic organization of photos. (Color-esque) Mobile users especially don’t want to think about managing the content on their devices, and this feature is both useful and new. It also makes iCloud photo and video sharing more competitive.
  3. New emphasis on social sharing. I felt Apple was starting to nibble at Facebook and other social sites by adding iCloud-focused sharing features, but careful to avoid competitive statements. Apple is starting to position iCloud as a place to share your photo and video stream with friends and family, and has integrated sharing to iCloud through many of the core apps. But don’t fret: Apple still charges users for iCloud storage beyond 5GB, which will crimp adoption of iCloud photo streams for now.
  4. iTunes Radio (streaming). Yup. We knew this was coming. It’s interesting that iTunes Match subscribers get this for free. There is definitely potential for Apple to offer a sort of paid “Apple Prime” package that includes streaming, iCloud storage, Match, and other paid cloud services for a single annual fee.
  5. Flat visual design refresh for iOS. We expected this. This huge refresh brings current app design trends into the core iOS look and feel: video backgrounds, flat design, left/right sweep bars for navigation within an app, focus on vertical scrolling not paging through content, and lots of full-bleed background images. It is clean, usable, and fresh.
  6. iOS and OSX core performance improvements. A few really core OS improvements roll out with the new iOS and OSX releases, mainly focused on reducing battery and memory use:
    1. Memory compression. I’ve wondered about this for years — why not keep some data compressed in RAM instead of chewing it all up for every application that is running (or worse, swapping things to and from disk). I haven’t read the papers on this yet, but it sounds like a potentially big win.
    2. Smarter sleep and background task execution modes. We’re seeing a ground-up rework of operating systems focused on mobile use-cases. The OS now tries to schedule power-hungry tasks all at once, to increase time in low-power sleep modes. Multitasking is now available to all kinds of apps.
  7. Siri incremental improvements and car integration. I’m happy Siri is improving, but I was hoping for an iOS voice API and this still isn’t available. The car integration demonstrates a desire to integrate the iPhone into other devices, though it will be a while before we’re all chatting with our cars using Siri. I expect auto makers will also support Android, since that platform still has greater volume.
  8. Quite a few enterprise-centric features in iOS. Apple is clearly pushing hard in this direction, and has laid the groundwork to grab market share in enterprise IT departments.

Again, take a look at the other coverage for some of the other big announcements like the new hardware and iWork apps.

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