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WWDC21

Posted on June 7th, 2021

Dave!And so the Apple World Wide Developer Conference happened today. Once my migraine was in check, I watched the video replay. And it was jaw-dropping (after you got over the truly heinous opening video, which was groan-inducing awful). There's some very cool technologies being dropped into the upcoming iOS 15 and macOS Monterey builds that I am having a tough time wrapping my head around it. But let's try, shall we?

The WWDC logo showing a purple glow while a diverse collection of Memoji Characters bask in the light!

   
• Spatial Audio FaceTime! Now when you are in a multi-person FaceTime session, the audio will take advantage of the Spatial Audio feature of some headphone devices (like AirPods Pro) and give you the illusion that different people are in different areas of the room. I think this will be one of those "you have to experience it to get it" things, because right now I don't see how this is all that useful. It's a gimmick that feels like it wouldn't make a FaceTime call any better.

   
• Voice Isolation! On the other hand, the new "voice isolation" feature feels like it would be highly beneficial. It effectively cancels out ambient noise so you can be heard easier in a noisy environment. No clue how well this will work in the Real World, but it certainly seems like a technology that's worth a shot, given the example they show in the keynote of a woman on a FaceTime call while somebody is using a leaf blower in the background.

   
• Wide Spectrum Audio! The opposite of Voice Isolation, this mode will pick up as much audio information as it can sense and relay that... like when you are at a piano recital, which is the example they used. I can see this being a welcome technology for people who do stuff like that, but it will likely have very little use for me.

   
• Grid View! This seems pretty superficial. You're talking to people in a grid? Yeah, that's the way online conversations work. Did Apple suddenly discover Zoom or something?

An iPhone in a Facetime chat with six people where everybody is in tiles looking at you.

My guess is that Apple is just trying to compete with the juggernaut which is Zoom.

   
• Portrait Mode! Turn your iPhone sideways and you'll be FaceTiming in "Portrait Mode" which seems to softens your face and blurs out the background so the people you chat with can focus on you...

An iPhone in portrait mode with a blurred background and soft focus.

This actually looks highly useful, because face-to-face you don't tend to wander like you do when you're online. Nice.

   
• FaceTime Links! And Facetime is now multi-platform! Android and Windows users (or any device with a compliant web browser) can join into a FaceTime conversation via a link. About damn time. Did Apple really think that iPhone users ONLY talks to other iPhone users? Typical Apple arrogance here. At least they're finally over it. This time.

   
• SharePlay Music! Maybe I'm misreading this... but I think it only applies if both people in FaceTime will be able to listen to music in sync with each other while on a chat?

Two people holding phones while sharing a musical track.

I have Amazon Music Unlimited... I wonder if that will be permitted? If different people subscribe to different services, can they all coordinate the same song across services? Music is music, so does it really matter? My guess is that they can't. At least not right now. Maybe eventually everybody will play nice together, but this IS Apple we're talking about.

   
• SharePlay Video! If there's one thing 2020 taught us, it's that being together while apart is essential. Not just in a pandemic. But here comes SharePlay to make things better! Well, as "better" as it can be given that nothing will ever replace face-to-face contact. But SharePlay is a very cool technology which actually does look like it will help bring people together while apart. Basically, it allows shared video experiences to happen over the internet effortlessly...

Two people holding phones while sharing a video together.

Well, depending on the service, that is. Disney+ will reportedly allow a shared experience only if both of you are subscribed to it... which makes sense. Other services may or may not have this requirement. What I want to know is whether or not I can share HOME movies with somebody via SharePlay? I dunno.

   
• SharePlay API! SharePlay isn't an Apple exclusive feature, it's an API which all developers can integrate into their apps. Apple has demonstrated how you can share your screen while in other apps... and even how you can chat via text instead of voice if you're trying to watch a show together (via Picture-In-Picture)...

Two people chatting in text messages while a video is synced between them.

Now THIS interests me, because I already do this with friends. If more companies make shared experiences easier, then it's going to be more beneficial to everybody who wants to stay in contact while apart.

   
• SharePlay AppleTV! Okay... here's where things are getting exciting. Being able to cast the shared video to your television while chatting or texting on your iOS device or macOS device is exactly what I want...

Four people chatting in FaceTime while a video is synced between them on AppleTV.

You'll even be able to watch TikTok together!

Showing the companies already partnered with Apple for the SharePlay API... Disney+, Hullu, HBO Max, NBA, Twitch, TikTok, MasterClass, ESPN+, Paramount+, and PlutoTV.

Please, please, PLEASE let Plex integrate this into their apps! And please, please, PLEASE let Windows and Android integrate it into their products too!

   
• SharePlay Screen Sharing! I have questions. "ScreenPlay Sharing" allows you to share your video screen, which is not new technology... but Apple sure is making it easier. The issue is refresh rate. Will it stream your screen fast enough to watch videos? I dunno. But one thing's for sure,

Showing SharePlay working across devices from iPhone to MacBook to Mac Desktop.

It will be interesting to see if Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and others work SharePlay into their products so everybody can participate. I guess that's on them.

   
• Messages! New features being added to Messages is cool, but hardly revolutionary. Oh look... picture sharing is prettier and easier to swipe through!

Messages showing a collage of photos in a text stream.

Wheeeee. The new "Shared With You" feature in Messages, which curates links and such for viewing at a later time, isn't so superficial. And when you pick up on them later (in their respective apps like News, Photos, Music, and such), there's a link back to the message thread so you can continue the conversation. Now that's helpful. As is pinning a text. Thanks, Apple!

   
• Focus! I get it... your iPhone is a constant distraction... but do we really need to have Apple monitor all of it for us? I just go into Do Not Disturb. Granted, having Apple trying to figure out what's important or not based on your preferences is kinda a game-changer, but allowing people to break through when something is horribly urgent is a definite game-changer. At least it is if I am understanding it correctly. If I can tell iPhone that I always want somebody to break through my Do Not Disturb because they are Just That Important? Yes please!

Messages showing n option for somebody to NOTIFY ANYWAY even though they are contacting somebody who has notifications silenced.

I never stop working. If I just ignored people while I am working, I'd never hear from anybody. But perhaps Apple trying to prioritized can change that? Worth a shot... just CHOOSE YOUR FOCUS...

Choose your focus... do not disturb, personal, work, or sleep!

No idea if this will work for me. But maybe? It looks highly customizable, so I'd like to think it can!

   
• Intelligence! I am all for my phone and computer being smarter and helping me more. Apple is doubling down with Artificial Intelligence by giving us... Intelligence? Alrighty then. I was hooked on the idea with Craig's first demo of "LiveText"... YOU CAN SELECT TEXT IN PHOTOS NOW?!? SERIOUSLY?!? ZOMG!!!

Craig selecting text... IN A PHOTO!!!

And "Intelligence" will allow a lookup of the highlighted text so you can get results on searches for that term. Highlight the name of a restaurant? BOOM! There it is. Holy crap!

The highlighted text is a restaurant, and there it is looked up in Apple Maps!

Phone numbers are an obvious use... just click on it and choose "dial"...

Craig dialing a phone number seen in a photo.

AND IT RECOGNIZES EIGHT LANGUAGES?!? DOES THIS MEAN TRANSLATION WITHOUT HAVING TO GO THROUGH GOOGLE TRANSLATE?!?!?

An iPhone recognizing Chinese characters on a coffe cup.

And it's not just text... "Intelligence" can also recognize objects, like pets, books, flowers, art, and landmarks...

An iPhone recognizingvarious things in photos.

Now THAT'S awesome.

   
• Spotlight! Apple's answer to search, "Spotlight," always seemed to be a distraction... and now Apple is adding more distractions. Maybe I'm not using it right?

   
• Photos Memories! Being able to create smart "Memory Albums" seems like a great idea but, once again, requires Apple Music in order to use it to its full potential. I'm with Amazon Music Unlimited, so...

   
• Wallet! Now, I absolutely love, love, love Apple Wallet. Especially its integration with my Apple Watch. I don't even take my phone out of my pocket when paying for stuff at the store any more. I just double-click my watch and it's done. The fact that Apple is adding even more capabilities to Wallet is perfectly fine by me! Credit cards, transit cards, and park passes... that's great!

An iPhone wallet with credi cards, transit cards, and park passes.

Adding keys to wallet would be great... if I had a car that supported it. But now they're adding the ability for other keys... like a house key... to be added as well. My electronic locks are by Schlage, which are utter shit, so I'm guessing they won't support this. They can't even bother to update their damn app so that it's bug-free!

An iPhone wallet unlocking the door to a house.

Room keys uploading to your phone before you even arrive so you can just walk to your room is very cool, so long as you're staying in one which supports it...

An iPhone wallet showing a hotel room key.

BUT HERE'S THE INTERESTING ONE... YOUR DRIVER'S LICENSE ON YOUR PHONE?!?!

An iPhone scanning a licenes into Wallet.

Alas, I live in Washington State which is always slow on the uptake. We still don't have Real ID compliant licenses. And our DOT website still uses phrases like "Disabled Parking" instead of "Accessible Parking" so who knows if I'll ever be able to take advantage of it.

   
• Weather! Oh look. They made the Apple Weather app prettier.

   
• Maps! I use Google Maps because I find them more complete and Waze because their traffic routing can't be beat... but Apple Maps is SO pretty that I may try and switch. Again. Just look at the gorgeous new renderings they are adding...

Apple Maps showing a beautifully-rendered 3D map of San Francisco that's zoomed in to Coit Tower, with a landmark badge for Intelligence.

IT EVEN SWITCHES FROM DAY TO NIGHT MODE! GAAAAH!!! So pretty...

An evening glow applied to a map for night-time viewing.

Of course, it's only as useful as it's completeness... which I'm guessing is only for the major cities. I hope they really push forward on including ALL cities, because the renderings of lanes, intersection complexities, and overpasses is just too smart...

Lanes and overpasses beautifully rendered on a drive map.

I dunno. It will be tough to give up Waze, but Apple seems to be really innovating. Like when you're in a city that has its building mapped. You just scan the area and Apple Maps will tell you exactly where you are in Augmented Reality...

An AR overlay naming the street you're on.

Phenomenal. IF you're in London, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, or Washington DC.

   
• Audio! Apple is REALLY making AirPods a compelling purchase. First with spatial audio, and now with focused listening for people with hearing difficulties... and even a way to modify what is being heard to make AirPods better than a hearing aid!

Somebody reducing ambient noise on their AirPods with their iPhone.

But the news that grabbed my attention? AirPods will now be on Apple's Find My Network service! You can even have them chirp to help you find them...

AirPods showing up on a map.

And the separation alerts, which let you know if you are leaving your AirPods behind is something that should be including on Apple's AirTag products. In other news... currently Apple's killer "Spatial Audio" feature is only available on iOS, but Apple is bringing it to AppleTV, which will be nice since those are the places I mostly watch TV and movies. It's also available to M1 Macs, which leaves me out. Oh well.

   
• iPadOS! Ever since Apple spun off iPad from iOS, the experience just keeps getting better and better. Now they're adding old iOS features... and adding even more cool iPad exclusive features... very few of which I'll likely remember! I need to use my iPad more often so I can remember this stuff! Craig says that multitasking has been made easier, and the demo by the iPad guy looks like maybe it's more intuitive than it is now? So maybe there's hope for me yet!

   
• Oh Siri! Apple is kinda an industry leader when it comes to privacy. Though I think they fall short in so any areas, I like that they're at least trying. And their latest iOS 15 innovation is addressing a major concern I have with Alexa... having everything I say go out onto the internet. In the next iOS, Siri will start processing more and more of what you say locally... not on the internet... which makes it more secure and also faster.

   
• iCloud! Apple's iCloud is somthing I love to hate. Yes, I love how it can sync all my bookmarks and passwords and all that... but the fact that it's not consistent in how it works... or wheter it works is frustrating as hell. Apple is now adding features to their iCloud Service (I pay $2.99 a month, I think?) which may or may not work as advertised. I am dubious. One is a "trusted contact" who won't have access to your account, but can receive a passcode if you're locked out of your phone so you can call them to get it. Nice. Apple is also adding Digital Legacy for when you die. Once dead, you can have a trusted contact access your stuff. I'm not sure how nice this is, but I like the idea of it, so I guess I'll look into it.

   
• iCloud+! Since Apple now makes more on the services they offer than the computers they sell, it's only smart of them to offer more services to sell. An upgraded iCloud offering is an obvious way to go. Fortunately for me, the new features are added at no additional cost. And they are compelling...

  • Private Relay. Welp, this will have advertising tracking companies shitting a brick. Enable this, and your traffic is relayed through random relays that hide who you are. EXCEPT... there are unethical, shitty companies LIKE CBS AND THEIR CRAP PARAMOUNT PLUS STREAMING SERVICE, which demand that you let them track you AND WON'T WORK IF YOU REFUSE... despite the fact that you are PAYING for the service! They'll take your money, but won't provide the service? Asshole piece of shit mother-fuckers.
  • Hide My Email. Generates a random email forwarding address for everything you sign up for and is built into Mail and Safari.
  • HomeKit Video This one is interesting. If you have a HomeKit compatible camera, you can link it to your Cloud account for review. I have Nest Cameras, which you have to pay Google to review footage. It seems unlikely that they would give up that money, so I think they only way they'd allow it is if you pay for their Nest Aware service. IF they allow it at all which, let's face it, is unlikely. Bastards. I paid for the damn cameras, I shouldn't be forced to pay to view the footage on their shitty web app and shitty iPhone app. But that's where we are with tech today.

   
• Health! Yeah... it's all cool being able to more easily and automatically share your health data with your doctor and receive health information from your doctor electronically... but, again, it's only useful if your health provider will use it! Mine doesn't. So this is all useless to me. Pity.

   
• Watch! Thanks to the third-party AutoSleep app, my Apple Watch is a favorite piece of tech I own. Once I managed to get used to wearing a watch, I don't know how I managed without it. Paying via ApplePay on my watch is awesome. I don't know about this new "Mindfulness" hippy-dippy crap... because I fond it annoying rather than helpful... but some people might like it.

   
• HomeShit! I absolutely HATE HomeKit. Apple fucked it up SO bad. It's unreliable. It's made complicated from being overly-simplified. And it doesn't work with most smart home devices, so what they fuck good is it? And since the new features are tied to HomePod... a product I fucking hate with every fiber of my being... I honestly don't give a crap. Maybe one day Apple will understand that OTHER TECH COMPANIES FUCKING EXIST and try harder to work with more of them. Apple says that they are a part of a new tech alliance called "Matter" but forgive me if I'm dubious about that working out. I'll sit here and hold my breath.

   
• Continuity! Being able to hand-off from your iPhone to your MacBook to your iMac seamlessly is incredible. That Apple knows this and is working to make it even more functional makes me very happy. I mean, check this out... set your iPad next to your Mac... AND THE TOUCHPAD WILL CONNECT AUTOMATICALLY AND ALLOW YOU TO DRAG AND DROP BETWEEN THEM! ZOMFG!

Craig using the trackpad on his MacBook to control his iPad.

Craig says "How cool is that?" then proceeds to show drag-and-drop between the two and I literally shouted back at my computer "SO FUCKING COOL, CRAIG!!" Because it is. And then because Craig isn't satisfied with me talking back to him like that... HE ADDS AN IMAC TO THE MIX AND IS USING THE MACBOOK TRACKPAD TO CONTROL ALL THREE LIKE A BOSS!!!

Craig controlling then dragging and dropping across three different products like a boss.

Continuity is a technology that Apple undersells... I absolutely love the Mac ecosystem because of exactly stuff like this.

   
• AirPlay to Mac! I send video from my iPhone to my AppleTV from time to time. Apple's now allowing you to send iPhone and iPad video to your Mac. Nice.

   
• Shortcuts! Apple's "Automator" scripting language is something profoundly useful if you have the patience to learn how to use it. Apple is making that easier by bringing iPhone "Shortcuts" to the Mac. And it integrates with "Automator" so you lose nothing. SMART AND MUCH APPRECIATED!

   
• Safari! Oh God. Apple is "simplifying" again... which usually shits all over the user experience. I am still fucking LIVID that Apple "simplified" Mail by taking away your ability to select from different mail servers AS YOU COMPOSE an email. This is a feature I used DAILY and... poof... just like that, Apple complicates something that used to be easy by "simplifying." Well here's an idea Apple, LET THE USER FUCKING CHOOSE IF THEY WANT SOMTHING "CLUTTERING" UP THE INTERFACE! Because what you consider "clutter" may just be the thing that somebody needs, relies on, and will miss badly if you take it the fuck away. God. These are the things I positively loathe about Apple. "Simplification" is just coded Apple-speak for "not pretty" and they need to get the fuck over themselves. New Safari "streamlining" looks prettier... but, again, in looking at it I have to wonder if it's going to force me to switch to Google Chrome because I don't want simple I want useful.

   
• Programming! I haven't written an app in years. But boy do these new Apple Developer Tools look awesome (Xcode Cloud is about as cool as it gets). I also love that Apple is trying to level the playing field by making programming concepts and practice more accessible to everybody with Swift... and will now allow apps to be developed on iPad! Sweet.

   
• The End! And that was the end of that. Another WWDC Kenote in the bag. All-in-all, this is some really amazing steps forward that I am looking forward to. Also some maybe great things... but I'll reserve judgement until I have a chance to work with the stuff they announced this Fall.

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WWDC 2020

Posted on June 22nd, 2020

Dave!Here we go with yet another post-Apple-World-Wide-Developer-Conference keynote. This year's was really long, so I am only writing about things when I have a comment to make instead of summarizing every little thing that was presented. If you want to watch the keynote yourself, just head over to Apple.com and have a look!

   
• But First... Kudos to Apple for prefacing their WWDC Keynote with a statement on racism, equality, and injustice... and what they are doing to address racism in their industry and our communities. Not only that, but Tim Cook called out the "senseless killing of George Floyd," which is not as strong as calling it what it is... but at least they didn't diminish it by merely calling is "the death of George Floyd." This is not just lip service. Apple is putting their money where their mouth is too. Apple is investing $100 million to help in demanding equality in our communities. That's a drop in the bucket compared to the massive fortune they're sitting on, but it's a heck of a lot more than what other big companies are doing. Apple is also creating programs for Black developers and finding new ways to encourage involvement by POC in the developer community. As a step forward, all the developer videos from WWDC are completely free for anybody to look at this year. Good on them.

   
• iOS: Widgets. One of the things that I loved so much from MacOS X was the widget screen. So many incredibly useful tools are just a swipe away. Then Apple eliminated them and I was bigly sad. And yet... here they are in iOS?!? Does this mean we will see a return of widgets in MacOS? I am holding my breath. I have said many, many times how my favorite mobile phone to work on was Windows Phone. Yeah, I never gave up my iPhone for it but, upon release, Windows Phone OS had new ideas with fresh ways of doing things. By contrast, Android was just a poor iPhone copy. One of the best features of Windows Phone was "Live Tiles," and that's almost exactly what iOS widgets are looking to be like.

Widgets on iOS!

   
• iOS Picture in Picture Video. Before iOS 14, you had to stop watching a video if you needed to access your apps for some reason. Now Apple has made it so you can keep watching (and listening) while you use your apps. Given how many times a day I get a distraction, being able to keep watching while I'm glued to my phone while traveling is a serious big deal.

A small video window floating over the Messages app.

   
• iOS Translate. Holy shit. Offline machine learning translation with conversation mode? Sign me up! As translation gets better and better, this is going to open up the world in new ways. I cannot tell you how many times this would have come in handy with my work. Very exciting stuff.

iOS showing a translation conversation window from Spanish to English.

   
• iOS Messages. I hate phone calls. All my friends and co-workers know this. I will put off returning a phone call for as long as possible. But a text message? I will hop on that immediately. And yet... I still kinda detest text messages because it's such a messy way to communicate. Apple has started addressing this by adding new features. The one that's most important to me? Groups. Group texts have been vastly improved, which is a huge step towards organizing the madness that can ensue.

Group icon collection on iOS.

   
• iOS Maps. I never use Apple Maps for actual navigation because I'm addicted to Waze. I only use it for the cool 3-D views of cities and to have access to their "Walk-Around" feature, which is a greatly upgraded version of Google Maps' "Street View." But that may change. Sounds like they are upgrading their directions (which have been pretty awful). All they need now is automated traffic redirection like Waze has and they could be a contender.

A map of downtown San Francisco on Apple Maps on iPhone.

   
• iOS Digital Car Key. Being able to have my home unlock when I arrive is so cool. Apple is extending the idea further with digital car keys. Now not only can you use your phone to unlock your car, you can also message a digital key to somebody so they can drive or move your car if needed... no matter where you are in the world. Of course I would need to buy a new BMW in order to use it... BWAH HA HA HA... but a boy can dream, can't he?

Messaging a BMW digital key.

   
• iOS Apps. No mention from Craig about the recent controversy of Apple being wishy-washy about which apps owe them a cut of their revenue, but I didn't expect there to be. Craig can likely get away with this because he's got almost offensively good-looking hair.

Apple's Craig presenting App Development.

   
• iOS App Clips. Having to download a new app for some little task is frustrating. App Clips are tiny pieces of apps that handle simple tasks you need to get through your day. They load immediately and will streamline tasks because they integrate ApplePay and "Log-In With Apple" features. And if you want the full app after using the App Clip, you can easily download it. Simple!

An App Clip displaying on an iPhone.

   
• iPadOS. I only use my iPad for two things... creating art and Zoom calls. That's it. Everything else happens on my iPhone or Mac. Apple is working hard to change my thinking on this by continuously upgrading the iPad experience. They started off with something that goes a long way towards addressing multitasking issues and app navigation... SideBar. This seems a no-brainer given the small screen of the iPad compared to a desktop Mac, but this is the first I've seen it. Smart stuff.

A sidebar showing on an iPad.

   
• iPadOS Phone Notification. The way iPad handles calls is kinda stupid. You are dropped out of your app in order to deal with it. Not any more. You can accept or dismiss calls or FaceTime or Skype requests with a popup. Much better.

A call notification on an iPad in a small pop-up.

   
• iPadOS Pencil. iPad is now attempting to treat your handwriting like actual text. You can select it and move it easily. Or have it converted on-the-fly when you paste. iPad is essentially now full-on an Apple Newton with "Scribble" which instantly converts handwriting to text.

A woman writing text on an iPd.

   
• AirPods. Auto-switching between devices? Magical. But the spatial audio feature being added to AirPods Pro is what has me really excited. If it actually works as advertised, this is Dolby Atmos Audio for one, and well worth investing in a new set of AirPods for me. The way the spatial audio ADJUSTS ON THE FLY when you move your head is incredible.

A visual representation of spatial audio surrounding a listener.

   
• WatchOS. I am fairly certain I will be buying into the Apple Watch ecosystem soon. I avoided it for the longest time because I find them so uncomfortable to wear. But after using Waze Band for a while now, I seem to have adjusted. My change of heart has everything to do with the Apple Health benefits which come with WatchOS. As I get older, I am more and more interested in taking advantage of the monitoring and active involvement of staying healthy. I will not, however, use the new "Dance" feature, which would probably result in injuries. Maybe if they add "pole dancing" I will reconsider?

A woman dancing while measurements are being simulated around her.

   
• WatchOS Sleep. The Waze Band ventures a little bit into sleep monitoring, but I don't have a lot of confidence in accuracy and there's no tools to help you get better sleep. Apple Watch seems like there's a lot more going on, making sleep features far more useful.

An Apple Watch displaying sleep information on its face.

   
• WatchOS Wash. Talk about timely features... Apple has added a hand washing monitor which makes sure you are washing long enough to destroy the lipid layer of things like COVID-19 so the virus will die.

An Apple Watch display showing a handwashing countdown.

Note that Kevin seems to have thinner wrists like me, so he's wearing his watch quite a bit lower than you usually wear a watch because it's uncomfortable on the wrist bone for us. This is encouraging. If this guy is in charge of stuff with WatchOS, and he has to wear a watch like I do, that means all the hardware monitoring features will likely work for me because he's obviously going to be testing them. Sweet!

Kevin washing his hands with an Apple Watch on his wrist.

   
• Privacy. Apple seems to put a lot more thought into privacy than other companies. They are constantly providing more tools to protect us and keep moving data analysis locally so that it doesn't have to go out onto the internet. I don't have much to say about this except Good job, Apple! Our own government doesn't seem to be interested in guarding our privacy, so it's nice that somebody is stepping up.

Privacy notifications on a sample app in the Apple App Store.

   
• HomeShit Kit. I detest HomeKit. I avoid it whenever possible because it's just an awful, awful system. Expensive, limited, and it barely works for me. Despite having multiple AppleTVs in my home to fully blanket everything with plenty of signal, sometimes I get an error which says that HomeKit can't communicate with my devices. Ugh. Apple has been steadily improving HomeKit with features and such, so maybe I will check it out again one day. But given my horrible past experience, I'm in no hurry. And yet... there's some compelling integration with iOS that has me wondering if I should be investigating it sooner. The one thing I am very interested in is Apple joining a new home automation consortium with Google. Does this mean my Nest cameras will integrate with HomeKit? Interesting to think about.

Various home automation tools like smart bulbs, cameras, thermostats, and the like.

   
• AppleTV. My experience with AppleTV has been less than stellar. Sometimes it's downright bad. It apparently has very little RAM for streaming because there are times I get shitty, stuttering video. But the biggest problem is with Apple media itself. Even when other streaming services are working flawlessly on my AppleTV, the stuff I bought from iTunes will fail to load or not display properly. Until they address this, all the other bells and whistles (like new picture-in-picture for apps) don't mean much to me.

Picture in Picture of two video streams showing on a television.

   
• AppleTV+. One of my favorite works of science fiction is the original Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov. Apple bought up the rights and teased the result...

No idea how this will play out, but I'm certainly excited to see what they've done with it.

   
• MacOS Big Sur. "Drug-fueled, mini-bus-driving, vision-quest?" — Okay, Craig. Settle down! If you believe the hype, this will be the biggest change to the visual interface of the Mac since the switch to OS X. I don't know if that's the case... these changes seem a more "evolutionary" than "revolutionary"... BUT THAT BEING SAID... I absolutely love what I'm seeing. WIDGETS ARE BACK? FUCK YEAH!!! Discontinuing them was a bigly stupid move, and adding them into Notification Center is okay by me.

A closeup view of the MacOS X revised interface with pretty colors and such.

   
• MacOS Icons. MacOS has redesigned icons! Whee! What pisses me off is that Apple STILL hasn't allowed icons to be manually generated and "baked" into data files. Used to be when you saved a photo from Photoshop, the app would generate a tiny icon to attach to the file so you could see what image you've got. MacOS X eliminated this. Now data file icons are generated by the Finder. Which is so fucking stupid. No longer can you just scroll through all your images and see what they look like... you have to scroll and wait... scroll and wait... scroll and wait... it's infuriating.

New MacOS App Icon Set

   
• MacOS Maps. And... MacOS is no longer the red-headed step-child of Apple's hardware when it comes to maps. Apparently they are adding more iOS Maps features that have been missing since Maps appeared on MacOS.

Apple Maps on a Mac, iPad, and iPhone showing parity features between them all.

   
• MacOS Safari. Even though I remain unconvinced that Safari is the best browser out there, it's my default browser just the same. Apple wants to be sure that this remains the case, because they keep making it more responsive and faster with each new release. On top of that, they are constantly improving security and privacy features. By far the most exciting is that they will now notify you if your passwords have been compromised when a data breach is reported. How amazing is that? THESE are the features that are important to me. And, oh yeah, they made Safari more customizable and pretty as well. Whee. And what about those new tabs? NICE...

The way tabs are displayed on Safari now.

Plus... inline translation when the language of the site is different than your selected language. Looks like you have to click a button. I wish I had an option for pages to translate to English automatically for me... and just let me know with an icon indicator or something so I can switch back if needed.

Translation inline on Safari.

   
• Mac on ARM. First it was a switch from 8086 to PowerPC. Then it was a switch from PowerPC to Intel. Now Apple is reeeeeally moving forward by developing their own silicon chips for Macs, just like they already do for iPhones and iPads. This is incredibly smart. By having MacOS work hand-in-hand with custom chips that they design and control, Macs will get faster, smarter, and have better battery life. They can tailor every aspect of the "brain" of their computers to do exactly what they want with no wasted processes or energy. Everybody knew this was coming. I honestly thought it was going to be years off yet. I'm happy to see that it's happening sooner rather than later. My only worry? That eventually Macs will just become big iPads. Because right now there are things that Macs can do which are clumsy or impossible on an iPad. But who knows what the future will bring?

Various features of Apple's new silicon chips being called out.

It looks like anything written in Apple's Xcode app development system will just have to be recompiled. Perhaps with minor tweaks. Simple. Microsoft and Adobe are already there for all their apps, and these are some really huge and complicated apps! What will be interesting is how these big companies use the custom hardware to add features to their products. This reminds me of the switch from PowerPC to Intel. All the apps would compile to work on both products via Universal Binary packages, and the user experience was seamless. But for those apps which weren't compiled to run on Intel silicon, they had a translation environment called "Rosetta." Now they've brought that idea back with Rosetta 2," so it looks like the transition is going to be just as seamless to Apple silicon, which is exactly what you want. Performance seems to be very good as well, so what's not to love?

Tim Cook standing in front of computer chips on a big wafer.

   
• iOS on MacOS. A brilliant side effect of Apple making their own chips is that they can make it so iOS and iPadOS apps run natively on the new Macs. That's pretty great.

iOS apps running on MacOS.

   
And that's a wrap. There's a lot of stuff to really appreciate here, but it's all vaporware until it ships and end-users have access, so I guess we'll see.

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Apple WWDC 2017

Posted on June 5th, 2017

Dave!And so it's time once again to tune into the Apple World Wide Developer Conference keynote to find out what everybody's favorite fruit-based tech company has up their sleeves for second quarter 2017.

I have to admit, I no longer get ramped up for these Apple things like I used to. In the past, I would take a frickin' vacation day when the WWDC keynote was unspooling just so I could unpack all the Apple goodness that had been unleashed. I'd pour over every minute and blog epic breakdowns of everything that was announced.

Now?

Well, I'm still excited over Apple's stuff... they're an exciting company. But the way they keep screwing up has me less enthused than I once was. I bought into their HomeKit home automation tech, only to find out that it is a total load of crap. They keep making "pro" equipment that isn't for "pros." The reliability of their products is in the toilet, and the way they address their lack in quality is bullshit. Meanwhile Microsoft is killing it with their Surface line, easily picking up the pro design market that Apple is abandoning.

But I digress.

Rather than have to watch hours of keynote like I did, here's a 19 minute recap that tells you everything you need to know (assuming you haven't seen it already)...

And here are my reactions...

  • Amazon on Apple TV. It's about frickin' time. I mean, I know this was probably more an Amazon issue than an Apple issue, but the wait has just been silly. A pity that the Apple content delivery is so shitty. I still can't get reliable streaming of my Apple video purchases despite every other streaming service in existence working perfectly fine... even on my AppleTV.
  • watchOS 4 Some nifty features. It's interesting how Apple has cracked the nut here that so many companies have failed with. Problem is that the watches are still too thick and clunky to be comfortable on me.
  • MacOS High Sierra. As the self-proclaimed "Heart and Soul of Apple," the company sure doesn't seem to be putting the Mac on the same level as their phone/watch/tablet products. This update to the MacOS offers some interesting features... in particular the new file system that's been a long time coming... but most of it is fluff. Where is the groundbreaking innovation that's going to keep the Mac platform moving forward? Certainly not at this keynote.
  • VRkit. Mass adoption of Virtual Reality isn't going to happen until it's much cheaper... and a hell of a lot less cumbersome and uncomfortable. When Apple releases VR that's accessed with a pair of glasses instead of some janky headset, maybe I will get excited. But now? Interesting and entertaining for early adopters, but it's got a long, long way to go before it's an essential technology.
  • iMac Pro. Why the fuck can't Apple get it through their heads that all this "pro" equipment they are releasing is not what pros are wanting? Your "pro" Mac option is now a fucking iMac? An iMac? A $5000 computer you can't expand or self-service? Oh... but it comes in fucking "Space Gray," so that makes up for everything! Give me a fucking break. Yes, it's an awesome computer... a powerfully awesome computer that looks great... but it is NOT WHAT PROS ARE LOOKING FOR!
  • iOS 11. Messages syncing is great, Personal Apple Pay is wonderful. Upgraded Siri is awesome... especially the translation feature! Siri learning and persistence is cool. Photo upgrades are welcome. New Control Center is overdue. Do Not Disturb while driving is critical to help keep dumbasses from being dangerous on the road. ARkit augmented reality is sweet, but kind of gimmicky.
  • iPad Pro. Wishing this was my iPad. The upgraded display is phenomenal, and looks like it will make using Apple Pencil even more remarkable. But the best part is the new size. The move from 9.7" to 10.5" feels like the perfect move... just a little bit more room to be more productive, but not to the cumbersome degree of the 12.9" model. I don't know that these new iPads are the ideal answer to Microsoft's Surface, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. But at a price.
  • iOS for iPad. If Apple keeps bringing desktop features to iPad, pretty soon they won't need to sell desktops. Which is probably the ultimate goal here. File management is finally here and, while not as feature-rich as I had hoped, it's still very much a step in the right direction.
  • HomePod. I'll buy one. Absolutely. This is the perfect device for playing music in my bedroom... perhaps even in my living room. But when it comes to home automation, it's too little too late. WAY too little because it relies on Apple's shitty HomeKit technology that I've abandoned. WAY too late because Amazon's Alexa does so much more in every arena, and already controls my home automation perfectly. To me, this is competition to SONOS, not Alexa. Maybe one day that will change, but Apple is going to have to integrate with other systems like Amazon has done in order to make any headway.

All in all... some nice upgrades in the OS and software departments, but more of the same bullshit for pro design users. A market Apple used to own, but is throwing away with gleeful abandon. Leaving me to wonder if my next computer will be running Windows. My license for Adobe's Creative Cloud Suite works for Mac or Windows, and they function the same on both systems. Food for thought.

   

WWDC15

Posted on June 9th, 2015

Dave!And so yesterday was Apple's Word Wide Developers Conference 2015 Keynote.

I was underwhelmed. Mostly because the One Thing I wanted to hear more about was barely touched upon, and what was covered lacked any kind of "wow factor" for me.

I guess what follows here could be consider "spoilers" if you haven't seen it yet, so click here to watch Apple's Keynote if that's important to you.

On with the show...

The Intro.
A video featuring former SNL funnyman Bill Hader playing WWDC's "director" David LeGary opened the event. It was surprisingly funny. Even if you don't care about anything Apple, it's worth watching the start of the keynote just to see the intro.

Tim Cook Welcome.
Mr. Cook was his usual enthusiastic, entertaining self as he welcomed everybody to The Most Important Developer Conference on Earth. His most entertaining bit was when he brought up the Great Baseball Ransom Note. Last week Cleveland Indians' Brandon Moss hit the 100th home run of his career. The ball ended up landing in the Indian's dugout, which meant it was time for Brandon's teammates to write up a ransom note listing their demands in exchange for the ball. Interestingly enough, everybody's demands ended up being Apple products... iPads, iPhones, MacBooks, Apple watches, and the like...

Mac OS X El Capitan Logo

Tim Cook was amused enough by this to have Apple pick up the tab for the demands, meaning Brandon gets his ball at no charge. Pretty sweet!

Mac OS X El Capitan
Craig Federighi, who has the best hair in tech, started things off by introducing us to the next version of Mac OS X, El Capitan...

Mac OS X El Capitan Logo

Definitely evolutionary instead of revolutionary, El Cap's new features are kind of middle of the road. The new "Split View" feature which allows you to automatically size and position windows in the Finder has been something I've been doing with Moom for ages. OS X Search with "Spotlight" is already a loser to me because it's cluttered with too much shit that gets in the way of me actually finding stuff on my Mac. Well, guess what El Cap does for Spotlight? ADD EVEN MORE SHIT TO GET IN THE WAY! Yay! Craig touted more full-screen app features, but didn't mention THE ONE FUCKING THING THAT FULL-SCREEN APPS NEED... a way of permanently turning on the menu bar so you have access to critical information such as BATTERY LIFE REMAINING and THE TIME OF DAY without having to unhide the menu bar first. Lame! There are some nice new features in mail... but all I care about is if Mail has been made more reliable. Because right now Mail is utter shit, and adding more features doesn't fix shit. Note has been improved, but all I care about is whether or not Notes will sync properly now, which it hasn't done in ages. Safari is getting pinned tabs now, which is nice... but I'd sacrifice this nifty feature for better compatibility in a heartbeat. Maps is getting tansit directions at long last. And, lastly, Apple announced that Metal, their iOS graphics technology which is hugely powerful and efficient is coming to OS X. Oh happy day.

iOS 9
Siri is getting more better smarter, which is nice. Apple's getting more serious about publishing with their News app, which has me interested in seeing if it can be applied to THRICE Fiction. The Notes app is getting more powerful, which seems a little pointless considering that third-party apps have this space fairly well filled. Maps is getting improvements (including public transportation planning in some cities), which should be a no-brainer, but Apple has been dragging their heels for some reason. Wallet is replacing Passbook to better reflect where Apple is going with the app... the centerpiece being Apple Pay, which is the greatest thing since sliced bread, so that makes me happy.And, lastly, the iPad is getting multitasking, which is pretty smart considering Windows Surface has been eating Apple's lunch on this since they launched. The best news of all, however, is that iOS9 will run on every iPhone and iPad that iOS8 did, so nobody is getting left behind this time around.

Apple Music
The biggest news of the day did not end up being what I thought it would be... Apple hung that on their new streaming music service... Apple Music. It really isn't much different than Spotify or any other service, except that it looks better and appears to navigate easier. Apple is trying to up the ante by rolling in some features from their now-deceased Ping service in Connect, which allows artists to keep their fans up to date with what's going on. And then there's the new worldwide net-radio "experience" Beats 1, which seems insane to me... too many people have too many different musical tastes, so how can you plan a WORLDWIDE station that appeals to everyone? MTV (back when they actually played music) had to break up into pieces and have localized channels in different parts of the world... even that didn't work. Personally, none of this stuff appeals to me. I like to own the music I love. If I buy a digital track, it's mine to play forever. With streaming services, the music stops when the money runs out. Stop paying, stop playing. But, hey, Apple Music is going to have a free three-month trial, so who knows.

HomeKit
The main thing I was looking forward to at this conference was big news about Apple's HomeKit home automation technology which is (apparently) going to revolve around AppleTV. It was announced a year ago and has basically gone nowhere, so now was the time, right? All the WWDC propaganda had the AppleTV shape and the words "The Epicenter of Change" plastered on it, so what other conclusion could be drawn except finally HomeKit was getting its due?

WWDC 2015 Logo

And yet it didn't happen.

Maybe they were never planning on it. Maybe something changed. Maybe it wasn't ready. Who knows.

All I know is that nobody is better at shitting on Apple technologies than Apple themselves. Yes, new devices are being released for HomeKit. Yes, Apple took a whole minute of the WWDC keynote to tell us that HomeKit will be adding support for more than just lights and locks. But that's it. All that teasing for nothing.

And I just don't get it.

The longer Apple waits to stake their claim in the exploding home automation market, the less impact they're going to have. They need to be out there now!

I never thought I'd be saying this, but Apple needs to break apart as a company. Sure it's great to have everything under one roof, but when you can't focus enough to get shit done, maybe it's not the best fit. The slow death of HomeKit before its even released is a big wakeup call.

But oh well.

Maybe Apple will get their shit together and do a HomeKit "Special Event" by the end of the year and prove me wrong.

Otherwise, why did they even bother coming up with it?

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