Alrighty then. As a Certified Apple Whore, it's required by law that I post my thoughts on all the stuff Apple talked about in the keynote speech of the 2013 World Wide Developer's Conference (watch it for yourself right here!).
So for all you Apple-haters, I apologize. Come back tomorrow and I promise to draw a monkey or something.
At Apple, our new visual design direction is lickable like it's 1998!
Apple's new iCEO, Tim Cook, is no Steve Jobs... but I really like the guy. He gives a good presentation, represents Apple well, and inspires confidence in his company, which is all that matters. Seeing Phil Schiller is always fun. The guy has a genuine enthusiasm about Apple that's hard to beat. It's good to see more from Eddy Cue, Apple's internet services guru too. But the real standout this time around? Craig Federighi, vice president of software engineering. The guy is funny as hell, and has a conversational tone when he's presenting that sucks you in and compels you love Apple and the things they do. Seriously, the keynote is totally worth watching just to see this guy at the top of his game.
MAC OS X!
It looks like most of the stuff going on here is under-the-hood improvements, which is fine. But there are a chunk of notable usability enhancements as well, so I'm hopeful that I won't have as many problems with Mavericks as I had with Mountain Lion. Unfortunately, the one thing... THE ONE THING I WANTED TO SEE... was not shown. And that's the option to keep the menu bar showing at all times with full-screen apps. I am so sick and fucking tired of dealing with the bouncing menu bar intruding when I don't want it... and having to go hunt for it when I do want it... WHICH IS ALL THE TIME!!! The clock is there. My battery status is there. My sound volume indicator is there. Just give me a check-box option to keep the menu bar showing always and I'll be fine. Anyway... on with the show...
- OS X Mavericks. So now that Apple has run out of big cats to name their OS X releases, they're going all mavericky and using surfing locations. I can't wait for OS X Shooting Gallery, OS X Kawaihae Breakwater, and OS X Padang Padang.
- Finder Tabs. It's about fucking time. Third-party Finder replacements have had tabs for an eternity. I thought that Apple had seen the light when they put tabs in Safari eons ago, but better late than never.
- Tags. Am I being insane, or is this just a re-do of the "labels" feature that we've had on the Mac for decades? Sure, "tags" look easier to manage, locate, and work with, but this is hardly revolutionary stuff.
- Multi-Display. I love it when Apple gets riotous applause for something that they should have been doing all along. Granted, Apple's handling of multiple displays has always been miles above any other OS, but it's still been pretty broken. Now, at long last, they've decided to do something about their busted shit and they bring the house down? Really? I've gave up on multiple-displays when their "Spaces" virtual desktops became useable... but I admit to being thrilled with being able to use Apple TV as a second monitor that's independent of my MacBook's screen. Finally, I can send video to my television while I keep working!
- CPU Nap & Memory Compression. Now here is where things start to get interesting, and where Apple is innovating with something that's more than just window dressing. OS X is getting very smart about using precious battery-sucking CPU cycles only when their needed, which should really help with battery life quite nicely. And using memory compression over hard disk virtual memory is truly behind-the-scenes magic that's going to have all kinds of yummy ramifications. Bravo.
- Safari. Not a lot to see here that's new... but Apple looks to be doing a lot of cool stuff under the hood to keep Safari ahead of the game. Speed and efficiency are always welcome in a browser because it's always running (at least on my Macs), so the battery savings should really add up.
- iCloud Keychain. What. The. Fuck. Took. So. Damn. Long? It seems like I've been bitching about this horrendous load of bullshit forever. In fact it's just been since Apple REMOVED keychain syncing when they killed off "Mobile Me" and replaced it with iCloud... but it feels like it's been forever. It kind of pisses me off that people were clapping over this one, because it feels like Apple is being rewarded for bringing back a feature they never should have fucking removed in the first place. Oh well. Looks like we're also getting a 1Password password/credit card management replacement, which is sad for the folks at AgileBits, but it's something that Apple should have done a long time ago.
- Notifications. At first, I was thrilled that Apple came up with a system-wide notifications solution because I had always had some problems with the third-party solution called "Growl." The honeymoon didn't last, however, because notifications were just irritating distractions that you could never really do anything with except dismiss. You had to find the app alerting you, fire it up, do your business, then go back to what you were doing when you were so rudely interrupted. Well, not any more. Notifications are actually smart enough to let you act on them directly instead of just sitting there like a dumb shit. Long overdue.
- Auto-Updating Apps. Some people will undoubtedly bitch about this, but I am over-the-moon happy. Apps SHOULD just update themselves when there's an update. Why bother me to do this menial shit manually? Sure, you run the risk of installing an update that has a huge bug, which is why so many people wait for a while before installing new updates, but I am not one of those people. I always update immediately, so... yay. I'm assuming this can be turned off for people who don't want it.
- Calendar. Apple has always been way, way behind the curve with their calendar app. Compared to Microsoft Outlook on Windows, "Calendar" is pretty pathetic. Sure there are third party add-ons like FantastiCal that help, but the Mac needs a serious native calendar and scheduling app. Unfortunately, we're still taking baby-steps here, but I guess any improvement is a good thing. The new "Info Card" with travel times, forecasts, and contextual info is pretty slick (though it seems a bit pale compared to the way Google handles this on their Android handsets).
- iBooks. So... Amazon has had a Kindle reader available on the Mac for like... forever. Which means Apple is playing catch-up again. STOP APPLAUDING FOR SOMETHING APPLE SHOULD HAVE DONE WHEN iBOOKS FIRST CAME OUT!!
- Maps. Okay, being able to send directions directly to iPhone is cool. Flyover is amazing. A new SDK to allow developers to include maps in their apps is sweet. But I'm still not convinced that Apple's Maps is worth using over Google Maps. At least not yet. Apple Maps is horrible at locating businesses, and it's still giving me fucked-up directions from time to time. Until Apple can vastly improve the data driving the app, it's always going to be second-ran to Google.
I love my MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It is unquestionably the best bit of tech I have ever owned, and the size, weight, features, and speed are amazing. That being said, there are times when I'm traveling where I would really appreciate having a much smaller machine to lug around. Basically, an iPad that's a fully-functional computer when I need it. The tiny 11-inch MacBook Air has always been so close to what I wanted. Now I think it's there. All I need is a thousand dollars and I'm golden.
"Can't innovate any more, my ass! — Phil Schiller, Vice President of World-Wide Marketing.
I honestly don't know where to go with this. I finally gave up on Apple ever releasing a new Mac Pro a year ago, and am now using an iMac that I'm quite happy with. That being said, I would much rather have a "pro" machine that can tear through the bigger projects I have to work on... especially when it comes to 3-D modeling and rendering... and video editing. And here it is. Except... it's not really a "pro" machine, is it? Sure it's got all kinds of killer pro features and looks fucking amazing... BUT EXTERNAL EXPANSION ONLY?!???? WHAT THE BLOODY FUCK?!?? One of the major differences between consumer machines and pro machines is that you can open the guts and configure the thing the way you need it for the kind of work you're going to be doing. But Apple has lived up to every criticism by choosing design over functionality, and it's a load of bullshit. Because it's BADLY DESIGNED! So you can rotate it to plug things in. That sounds cool, right? But what happens when you've got a ton of crap plugged into it? How does it rotate around when you've got a dozen cables anchoring it in place? I'm not debating whether innovations like the new "tri-core cooling technology" is cool... it's frickin' awesome... but this is not the machine pros are after, and it's a really shitty thing for Apple to do to those who have been waiting so damn long for a new Pro machine to come out. When I bought my iMac, I worried I was making a mistake, and a new Mac Pro would be released that would work so much better for my needs. Well all those worries are gone. If I had the choice even today between an iMac and a Mac "Pro"... I'd go with the iMac. This is the fucking Mac Cube all over again! Did NOBODY at Apple learn a damn thing from that fiasco?
Nobody is more convinced that the future of computing lies in The Cloud than I am. Having access to all your stuff wherever you are with whatever device you have is the future. The problem is that nobody is doing it very well... including Apple. But, to their credit, they do seem to be the most interested in figuring it all out. More and more cloud functionality is coming into place. Apple's cloud services are getting more reliable and robust every day. And things like iTunes Match are demonstrating the promise of what "cloud computing" is all about... have access to my entire music and movie/television library anywhere there's internet from my Mac, iPad, or iPhone? Yes please. It's all magic, right? Well... not really. Because Apple is constantly sabotaging themselves. Want to stream your purchased movies to your Mac or iDevice? Tough shit! Apple only allows streaming to AppleTV... anything else requires that you download the whole fucking file first. Never mind that Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and the rest of the known fucking universe allows video streaming, Apple doesn't. Will this be fixed with iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks? Who the fuck knows? Will Apple fix the myriad of problems that prevent developers from integrating iCloud into their apps? Who the fuck knows? It goes on and on. The fact that Apple is working so hard on getting The Cloud done right is meaningless if they can't see the forest for the trees. YOU HAVE TO FUCKING COMPETE! Except Apple doesn't seem to care when the competition is trouncing all over them... they're Apple, so they don't have to! Except they really do. We finally get keychain syncing back, but it almost feels like too little too late when services like Dropbox and solutions like 1Password stepped up to the plate when Apple wouldn't for so damn long. And there's the crux of everything that's wrong at Apple... THEY decide what's important to their users rather than responding to what users find important and are actually doing. I love Apple and all, but I'm just so fucking sick of this.
Well, it looks a little more polished than Spotify or Pandora... and it looks a lot smarter, even if the details are sketchy (how many skips do you get an hour?). I will probably use it. I will probably discover new music. I will probably end up buying a shitload more music than I am now. So, mission accomplished, I guess. The fact that iTunes Match subscribers don't have to deal with ads is kind of a nice bonus.
Oh... so Apple hasn't killed iWork on the Mac after all! It's just so hard to tell, what with them NOT UPDATING IT FOREVER. Just like with Aperture, buying iWork almost immediately makes you feel like you've purchased abandonware. Sure they'll fix a big or add a little fluff every once in a while (NEW! Documents in The Cloud!)... but it's hard to have faith with Apple as a serious app developer when they don't maintain a consistent release schedule. Years can go by with no major release or update, so you just never know. And here we are at long last... iWork is getting updated. Or is it? Because the focus seems to be on competing with Google Docs with a browser-based solution. Well, I have to tell you, this has me worried. Very worried. And it all comes down to this... will future releases of iWork (the app) be limited by iWork (the web app)? Is an Apple software engineer going to say "Here's a great idea for iWork Numbers... won't it be cool to give our users this functionality?" Only to be greeted with "Oh shit, we can't add that feature... we'd never be able to implement that in a web browser!" Well, I just don't know. But that would suck. And it wouldn't be surprising from Apple. All that being said? How frickin' amazing was that demo of iWork in the Cloud?
Well, here it is... the moment the world has been waiting for... the next generation of Apple's iOS. The operating system which powers gazillions of iPhones, iPods, iPads, and whatever new iDevices Apple comes up with (iWatch?). I'll reserve comment on the new design visuals until I've actually seen them up-close-and-personal, but my initial reaction is mixed. I like the flatness of it all, which feels modern and forward-thinking. The typography and the stark, clean layouts are stellar. But the bright candy colors that I thought were banished with the old iMac aesthetic feel more "dated and tired" than "retro cool." Yet... Apple is nothing if not a trend-setter, so maybe it's a look that's making a comeback. I guess we'll find out this Fall. If I were to summarize, I'd say that I like most of what I'm seeing... but not everything. If nothing else, I think it's a consistent visual language that competitors lack will help keep Apple at the top of the heap.
- Skeuomorphic. When the iPhone first debuted, there was really nothing else like it. The thing could become new devices just by running an app. To assist people with understanding this, Apple's designers used skeuomorphic design. This is what they call it when the calendar looks like an actual desktop calendar with leather binding and stitching... a voice recorder looks like a physical recording device with switches and knobs... and so on. At the time, I didn't mind it. But, as time wore on, it made Apple look incredibly dated. Fortunately, Jony Ive and his team have finally gotten rid of this crap so that iOS7 looks sleek and modern.
- Control Center. I'm running out of ways to say "about fucking time." It was insane... in-sane that you had to navigate through an app and two menus just to adjust brightness, turn on Bluetooth, or whatever. Now everything is just a swipe up from the screen.
- Notification Center. I was scared to death that Apple was going to copy Microsoft's "Live Tiles" which I fucking hate to bombard you with information that is ultimately no more helpful than the little red badges Apple is already using. Fortunately, Apple is smarter than that, and just tweaked Notification Center with a new look and some new toys. Thank. God.
- Multitasking. And here is a situation where I can fully appreciate Apple taking their time to get it right rather than blasting out some battery-sucking "LET'S MULTI-TASK EVERYTHING!" bullshit that renders your phone useless half-way through the day. Nope, Apple's approach is to give us a "smart multi-tasker" that learns how you use your phone and assigns CPU threads appropriately. The interface is nothing new... looking a lot like the "cards" that came from the ill-fated Palm OS, and what's been available for eons with jail-breaking hacks... but it's very nice to have something so polished that's available to everybody.
- Photos. The demo of the new "Photos" started out by showing how the average iPhone user has a mess of thousands of photos piled up that makes it tough to find anything. "We've all been there?" Yes. Yes we have. Now with "moments" the organization is automatic and oh so easy. I am forever digging through my photos, and this is welcome relief.
- Camera. Oog. I'm not so sure about this. Swiping to switch between four cameras actually seems slighty more confusing than the little photo/video switch we have now. But I'm certainly willing to give Apple's designers the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully it will make it less likely to accidentally be in video mode when you're trying to shoot a photo. The filters are a nice addition if you like that kind of thing (and, obviously, a lot of people do), but I'll still be using a more feature-rich third-party app for photo manipulation.
- Air Drop. Local file sharing... brilliantly realized. Though I have to admit that my favorite part of the demo was Craig Federighi's slam on Samsung's inelegant "tap-to-share" solution. The bad news is that you have to have an iPhone 5 to take advantage of the peer-to-peer WiFi networking that makes it possible but... still... wow. And, oh yeah, the other drop-sharing options are nice too. I just hope they work better than their current "share sheets" which don't post my photos to Facebook or Twitter half the time I use them.
- Safari. Any improvements in speed are welcome... but the new tab-browsing, which is so much better than what we have now, is what makes this upgrade worth it.
- Mail. Yeah, it's all visually beautiful and shit but, if the back-end is still totally fucking crap, what difference does it make? I am so sick and tired of disappearing emails... emails that are never delivered... mail that never deletes... the hideous amount of time it takes for the app to check for new mail... the list goes on and on. Something as critical as frickin' EMAIL deserves a bullet-proof user experience and rock-solid operation in addition to a pretty interface. If Apple can't deliver the whole package, they should just get the fuck out of the email business. Seriously.
- Weather. So pretty. And adding the time zones to each location is long overdue.
- Messages. Again, you can beautify everything as much as you'd like... but if messages isn't reliable, then it doesn't matter. I am still having issues with disappearing messages when syncing between iPhone/iPad/Mac, and it drives me insane. Blackberry Messenger is apparently coming to iPhone. Their rock-solid reliability could be an interesting option if Apple doesn't get their shit together.
- Siri. I may be one of the few people who actually likes Siri, uses her often, and thinks it's an invaluable part of the iPhone experience. That being said, there is so much room for improvement. Siri can be stupid as a box of rocks with simple requests that she should be able to handle. Even stuff she's programmed to handle can go badly wrong if conditions aren't exactly as expected... such as a hiccup in your internet connection while driving through a parking garage. This is an area where Apple should literally spare no expense, because it could be the one area where iPhone completely trounces the competition. Pairing with Bing to get deeper search results and compete with Google was smart. But Apple needs to be going so much further than that. Give us all the Star Trek computer experience of our fantasies, and THEN you can take a minute to catch your breath. Until then, spend more money. Hire more people. Exceed our every expectation. If you don't, your competition will, and you can't catch up to perceptual magic.
Okay. There's one thing I saw in the keynote that has completely haunted me about the new design, and I love it more than sliced bread. The new iOS is multi-plane display capable...
This basically means that everything is set on three-dimensional layers, so as you move your phone around, the different planes move to communicate depth. Allowing you to "see around" stuff on upper layers as the camera is rotated. In video games and animation, this is called "parallax scrolling" (or something like that), and it's some visual trickery that really pays off. The idea of having such lush visuals on my frickin' PHONE is pretty spectacular. It's the little touches like this that makes Apple be Apple, and keeps Apple Whores such as myself in a constant state of geek heaven.
Annnnnnd... the end.
For now. As I get a better look at all this stuff, I'm sure I'll have more to say.