Apple’s WWDC kicked off today, with the usual keynote address. Apple unveiled OS X 10.10 Yosemite and iOS 8 – packed with new features, but I can’t detail all of them. There’s a lot of catch-up going on here with the competition, but even so, they’re still great features for iOS users. In fact, I would go as far as to say that iOS 8 may provide a pretty convincing argument for a number of Android users to come back to iOS – especially combined with all the other new features.
For instance, iOS is finally getting a form of Android-like inter-application communication called Extensions. The implementation details will differ, of course, but essentially, iOS is getting Android’s Intents for a far more seamless multitasking-like user experience. For applications updated to support Extensions, you no longer have to jump in and out of applications; instead, one application can call up specific parts of another. Similarly, iOS will also finally allow third party keyboards for those of us who don’t like the default iOS keyboard. Apple is also opening up the notification tray to third party widgets.
An area where Apple is not playing catch-up but is clearly ahead of the game is a set of features that personally impressed me the most about iOS: Continuity. Essentially, using Bluetooth and proximity information, your iPad/iPhone and Mac can work together to a far greater (and easier) degree than ever before. For instance, an incoming call on your iPhone automatically pops, and can be answered, through your Mac. Working on a Keynote document on your iPad? Keynote on the Mac will notify you of it, allowing you to easily pick up where you left off on your iPad – and vice versa.
There’s tons of other examples, and I’m really excited about its potential. To me, this approach to bridging the gap between PC and mobile seems far more useful than Microsoft’s one-operating-system-for-all approach. Coincidentally, it highlights Google’s problem of not being in control of a major PC operating system.
OS X 10.10 Yosemite is intriguing. It constitutes a complete visual overhaul of OS X, with a lot of blurred transparency, iOS-like visuals, and a sidebar full of widgets. Some of the language used regarding the blurred transparency and the sidebar were the exact same words used by Microsoft for Aero and the Vista sidebar, but overall, I’m really liking the new design. It’s a fantastic step forward from a design that, in my view, had become quite stale and messy, to a more unified set of visuals and UI elements that, at least on the stream looked absolutely fantastic – especially in the new ‘dark mode’, which replaces the white with blacks.
All the above (plus the huge amount of stuff I haven’t mentioned) would be more than enough for a really strong keynote, but Apple had one more major trick up its sleeve – and for the developers among you, this is a big one: Apple introduced Swift, a new programming language set to replace Objective-C. Apple claims – of course – that it will be faster and easier than Objective-C, but we’ll need proper hands-on from developers to substantiate those claims. It’s a huge deal, though: Apple essentially just introduced the way forward for its developers, after twenty years of Objective-C. And nobody saw it coming.
All in all, this keynote was Apple at its very best, in optima forma, showing a set of improvements, new features, and new products that really constitute major steps forward for Apple’s ecosystem. iOS still can’t grab my attention in any meaningful way (too little, too late), but OS X 10.10 is shaping up to be a fantastic (free!) update, and I can’t wait to pull my 2012 iMac out of storage and try it out.
That being said – all the amazing stuff Apple showed today made one distinct part of the keynote stand out like a bright yellow Lumia in a unitary sea of grey iPhones: the competition bashing. The bashing has reached such a low point this year that Tim Cook had to resort to flat-out lying to smear Android. Not only did Cook lie about Android version adoption rates, he also trotted out the baseless scaremongering from anti-virus peddlers about malware writers focusing on Android. Sure, those people target Android – but Android is so secure that despite all this effort from malware makers, their results are absolutely laughable.
With such an incredibly strong showing, the bashing stood out more than usual, especially because many of the features and improvements demonstrated by Apple today consist of things the competition has been enjoying for years. All this bashing detracted from the amazing work done by Apple’s engineers, and simply wasn’t necessary.
Strong showing marred by unnecessary pettiness.