As I type this sentence, Tim Cook just closed the WWDC 2015 keynote stating ‘it’s great to be together’, following a fantastic performance by music artist ‘The Weekend’.
This reminds me of Google’s ludicrously stupid tagline ‘Be together. Not the same’.
Unfortunately for Google, as Apple keeps on showing us year after year, Android users can ‘be the same’ in their unequal experiences, in their inability to reliably update to the latest OS versions for security and features, in their inferior app experiences and selections, and more.
The group of technology users that truly are ‘together’ on Planet Earth at the moment are Apple’s users, who are customers of a company that respects their privacy, that puts the end-user as the customer first, not the advertiser, that strives to deliver unequalled experiences that others merely copy the surface of without also copying the depth of the experience - or trying to and failing.
As I’ve said when simply looking at Apple’s videos - Apple puts more effort in creating the videos for its various products and services than most of its competitors put into their entire product lines.
I read somewhere that nowhere near as many people as I would have imagined actually get around to watching Apple’s various keynotes.
Well, let me tell you. You are missing out! Apple’s keynotes put those from Microsoft, Google and others to shame. Sure, those companies do try hard, and Apple execs love their attempts at humour, some of which work and some of which could have received better laughs, but Apple’s keynotes are polished affairs that, yet again, set the standard for other companies to follow.
Every thing Apple does sets a standard.
So - the 2015 WWDC Apple Keynote. It’s a must-see event, whether you’re a developer or not.
Unlike some of Microsoft’s developer keynotes, such as for its Build conference where the developer parts really are for developers, Apple’s keynotes can be understood and enjoyed by anyone, whether you have any developer knowledge or not.
By the time you’re reading this article, the 2015 WWDC Keynote should be available to watch as a replay here, and if not, it will be soon.
Apple announced great new capabilities for its three biggest operating systems and platforms - OS X, iOS and the new watchOS 2.0.
One thing we didn’t hear about - at all - was the Apple TV, but clearly, Apple isn’t ready to show more of what it is doing in this arena as yet. I’m guessing it will be a huge part of WWDC 2016 but in the meantime, developers have a LOT of things to keep them very happily occupied.
The next version of OS X will be called ‘El Capitan’, and will presumably be OS X 10.11. A developer preview is available now, a public beta starts in July and the final version comes out in the US Fall, which is the Australian spring.
The biggest highlights are improvements to the user experience and improved performance.
The Spotlight search experience is more powerful than ever before, with its window now resizeable. Shake the mouse cursor when you turn on and get to the desktop and the arrow pointer gets instantly larger so you can quickly find and see it.
Pin sites you often visit in Safari to the left hand side of the tabs bar. If a rogue tab is playing music and you’re not sure which tab it is, you can simply press the mute button in the address bar, or click the icon to see exactly which tab is hosting the unexpected audio playback.
Windows 7-style window snapping finally lets you easily snap two windows side-by-side, and easily re-size them. Improvements to window management in virtual desktops is also there, features which easily match the improvements Microsoft has coming for Windows 10.
There’s a new Notes app that lets you have graphics, styling, formatting and links - which naturally synchronises with a similarly updated Notes app in iOS 9 for iPad and iPhone.
Performance improvements are also promise - 2x increase in ‘snappiness’ in switching apps, 4x faster PDF and image previews, 2x faster for the first new mail message to appear, for example.
Apple is also making ‘Metal’, is graphics acceleration technology to run graphics as close to the ‘bare metal’ capabilities of the CPU and GPU is now coming to Mac OS X after first having debuted on iPhone and iPad in 2014, resulting in a 10x performance in games.
There’s plenty more, but let’s move on to iOS 9.
iOS 8 already has 83% user adoption, but naturally, Apple wants even better adoption for iOS 9, and is promising fantastic improvements in intelligence and more, with iOS 9 set to work on all devices that iOS 8 works on, from the iPad 2 and up through to the iPhone 4S and up.
Apple says iOS 9 will give iPhone users an extra hour of battery life for typical usage, with a new low-power switch granting an additional 3 hours of typical usage battery life.
Like Mac OS X, iOS 9 is available for developers now, starts a public beta in July and will become generally available from the end of the US Fall (which is the Australian autumn).
Siri is vastly more intelligent than before, already handling over 1 billion requests per week, being 40% faster at responding. You can ask Siri to remind you about ’this’, with ‘this’ being a note you’re looking at, or a webpage. You can ask Siri to remind you to get your coffee from the roof of your car when you get into your car!
If an unknown number is calling, Siri can look in your email to see if it recognises the number so it can suggest who the unknown caller might be. Siri is now much more proactive, too - but without needing to sacrifice privacy, as Apple explained.
Instead of mining information about you in the cloud, Apple searches the data on your device to find relevant information, from automatically adding calendar invites from your email through to knowing the type of music you like listening to at different times of the day.
The ability to swipe left for a search screen returns in iOS 9, but it’s vastly improved, giving you suggested contacts, suggested news stories, most recent apps, apps you just downloaded and plenty more - even video search.
Apple again reminds us all it is delivering intelligence throughout the experiencing without compromising privacy, with Siri looking up information online anonymously, without associating anything with your Apple ID, by using randomised identifiers and more.
Siri also knows about transit in maps - transit info for public transport is coming to a selection of US and international cities and over 300 of them in China, but no work yet on when Australians will get the benefit.
Then there was Apple Pay. Sadly this is not yet available in Australia, but it is coming to the UK by next month in July.
250,000 store locations in the UK will support Apple Pay, you can commute and pay for fares on London’s transportation system with Apple Pay, and over 70% of UK credit and debit cards will be supported at launch.
Apple is also renaming ‘Passbook’ to ‘Wallet,’ where you can store credit cards, store cards, boarding passes, loyalty cards and plenty more.
Various iOS apps like Notes have been improved, and coming to the US, UK and Australia first is a new ‘News’ app, which delivers a magazine like experience to news reading, allowing incredible styling and typography, allowing news sites to retain their custom look and feel.
On the iPad, new multitasking features let you have two apps open side-by-side on the iPad Air 2. If you have the iPad Air 1 and a select range of other iPads, you can still have side-by-side apps but not as elegantly or powerfully as with the iPad Air 2, but still a very cool and useful addition.
Just double tap on the home button as per usual but now you get beautiful full screen imagery of the other apps you have open.
When editing documents, you can now use two fingers over the keyboard so your keyboard now becomes a mousing surface area, making editing of documents created on an iPad a much, much easier process.
There’s so much more, but the iOS App Store now has 1.5 million apps, has paid out over $30 billion to developers with over 100 billion apps downloaded thus far.
CarPlay now goes wireless in upcoming CarPlay compatible models - and when your device has iOS 9. Gaming gets new features as does HomeKit.
Apple’s new iOS and MaC OS X programming language ‘Swift’ will now become Swift 2.0 - and by the end of this year, Apple is open sourcing the entire
Then there’s watchOS, giving your Apple Watch the ability to run native apps for the first time. Developers get a ton more access to the Watch interface, so with apps finally reaching the Apple Watch in a native manner, performance accessing third party apps will be greatly enhanced.
Siri is smarter on the new watchOS, as are new watch faces that let you use any image you want, developers can make their own new complications, FaceTime audio calls join phone calls on the Apple Watch, fitness is improved, mass transit from Apple Maps is supported, Siri supports HomeKit and plenty more.
Apple’s one more thing’ was its brand new Apple Music streaming service. There’s no Australian price yet but it will cost US $9.99 and you get the first three months free. No Australian pricing has yet been announced but you get a new 24 hour worldwide radio service from London, New York and Los Angeles, with Apple favouring the human touch for music curation - not some algorithm.
Ask Siri to play the top song from 1982 and she’ll oblige. Every song in iTunes is available for instant streaming as well. If you’re in a family you can pay US $14.99 and 6 people can access the service at once with their own usernames and passwords.
There really is tons more which developers are learning about as I type, with 30 developer sessions to be streamed live and free over the internet.
All of the new features are designed to answer and better the competitive threats from Microsoft, Google and others, and within the next few months, more iOS and Mac OS X users than ever before will be upgrading en masse to enjoy all the new benefits.
It’s an exciting time to be an Apple user and customer - things are just getting better and better!