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Posted on Jun 5, 2017

WWDC 2017

Ah, the incrementalism continues…

Yes, my annual need it or not blog post continues. Without WWDC to prompt me, my blog would be completely bereft of newish content. I am reminded that I need to update this site a bit. My Flickr account has gathered dust and my recent reads and tunes listed to are a wee bit out of date. But my anticipation for the announcements to come to day? Well, I have pragmatist’s point of view and a tech-loving geek’s hope that there will indeed be at least one more thing that gets announced to make me gleeful.

The pragmatist in me says that we will see iOS, MacOS, watchOS and tvOS updates during today’s keynote. Yeah, that’s about it. Will they be earth shattering? Ditching all 32-bit app support in iOS 11 is a pretty big deal, but not for the casual user who’s favorite game will no longer work. That’s a hard sell, and I hope the developers of all the apps that I keep get warnings for are ready. I and most other folks will upgrade either immediately or as soon as a lust-inducing iPhone 8, 9, or X show up. There will be great strides made, I’m sure, but will there be game changing updates to any of the OSes? Probably not. But the incremental improvements are very important. I don’t think we’ll see anything earth shattering, but we’ll see a lot of things that wouldn’t have been possible without the foundation that’s been being built up for years. That goes for Siri too, which I expect will have a lot of biggish improvements, possibly enough to justify… wait, I’ll get to that under the hopeful geek portion of this post.

Hardware will be incrementally improved as well. Updated MacBooks and iPads… yes, more than likely. They’ll be faster, yes. Better, yes. Drool-inducing? No. And there won’t be anything from the iPhone or MacPro lines to make our hearts skip a beat either. The best possibility would be an updated iMac – but I think that’s a little way off, but happy if Apple were to surprise us with more than a speed bump.

Services… that’s really where things could be more interesting. Incremental improvements? Of course, but let’s see if there’s something bigger on the horizon.

Okay, let’s forget pragmatism now. What would rock my socks off today?

Software isn’t likely to do it. Sure, there could be a huge augmented reality play afoot, but that’s more likely to be announced alongside the new iPhone later this year. VR ain’t happening, and would also be more likely part of a new hardware push. An iTunes overhaul would be so welcome, but also unlikely. HomeKit for MacOS? Sure, why not. Some deluxe workflows for home automation would be easier to create and troubleshoot with a Mac UI. There might be a new app or two and I expect a lot of the innovation to be in how the various OSes interact with one another and with the cloud – which would lead to a discussion of services.

Hardware that would make me whip out a credit card? Will we see the Siri speaker? That would imply a huge leap forward for Siri’s capabilities. I’ll be a happy guinea pig and continue to put up with it deciding what it understood yesterday is nonsense today. Mac hardware excitement is coming later, although I’d love to see a desktop Magic Keyboard with the toucher strip. That would make me happiest of all. I think we may see that, and we may also see a revised AppleTV. What changes? How about 4k support? Okay, that’s not exciting, just expected. Siri Speaker built in? Alright, that’s more like it. New – wait, time for services.

I think we’ll see that rumored AppleTV cord cutter package today. There have been a few other underwhelming offerings here lately, and I think they maybe have there partners signed on the dotted line. I think we’ll get Amazon Prime Video on the AppleTV too. Increased cloud offerings with bigger storage options at better prices – wait, that’s still incremental. To be worthy of drool they would need to offer unlimited photo storage – you know, like Google already does. And maybe the Apple Music song limit for things stored in iTunes will get raised as high as Amazon already is. Hmm. We are still underwhelmed.

So, Siri, what would be a truly inspiring ‘one more thing’ for Apple to deliver today? I don’t think it exists just yet. I expect we’ll see a new MacPro next year, and I expect that to knock my socks off. This year I expect to have plenty of small new things to play with, a Siri Speaker to try (and try to justify), a new AppleTV and a new Magic Keyboard with TouchBar to add to my iMac. Past that, I really look forward to playing with some new refinements and then getting back to pining for new hardware to come.

Posted on Jun 13, 2016

Is there still some time for my annual WWDC predictions?

Of course there’s still time! Although I have to admit, I am ready to be underwhelmed this year.

Why? Well, because it is getting harder and harder to imagine what revolutionary idea could be unleashed on the world these days. And expectations have gotten to the point where if Tim Cook doesn’t announce a flying car that runs off of the emissions of other cars, turning all of our smog into lovely, breathable oxygen, then Apple’s stock will dive after the curtains fall on the keynote.

So what am I expecting? Evolutionary change. Slow, dull, but ultimately important small changes everywhere. I expect Mac OS X to become macOS, because I read the same rumor blogs that everyone else does now. macOS and iOS will continue to converge. I expect to hear all about new features across all of the OS products – macOS, iOS, watchOS and tvOS. I don’t expect to hear about flyingcarOS for a while still, and I don’t expect much discussion of CarPlay. A mention, perhaps, but nothing earth shattering But I do expect that there will be a disproportionate amount of time spect talking about Apple Music as part of the updated OSes.

Services. Apple Music will get a major overhaul. The first gen product was nice, and I have kept paying for it past the free trial because I like being able to say “Hey Siri, play [obscure song] by [obscure artist]” and more often than not, hear that song. Makes commuting by car more tolerable. And yes, there will be a lot of discussion about Siri today. I expect that she will present part of the keynote.

Apple TV… won’t get the overhaul it needs. Why? Because it isn’t about hardware at this point, it’s about the business model that TV – especially cable – is clinging to. So no revolutionary service announcement where I can subscribe to all the channels I want and none that I don’t, with over the air live stations in the mix to be delivered online. So, cord cutting will continue at current paces until there isn’t enough money in cable television, and the providers collapse and become straight up ISPs. But by this time next year, I expect I’ll be using a patchwork setup of Netflix, HBONow, Hulu, SlingTV, Starz, CBS All-Access and iTunes to entertain myself. Especially since Netflix produces the best shows around now. Will Apple buy Netflix? Well, they totally missed out on LinkedIn so…

iCloud is ripe for exploitation. Will this be the year that Apple finally goes big? Part of me really hopes so – and another part of me is sick of people signing up for things with my email address. What would be ideal in this space? Make people forget that DropBox exists. Back up all of my photos for free. Continue moving everything that is on my computer into the cloud so that when I pick up any device I own, I have access to everything I use everywhere. So, basically, iterate on what is there until I can’t live without it. Best thing they can do here has nothing to do with new features, and everything to do with reliability.

I think we’ll see something about the next gen Apple Watch. This is a developer show, and I expect Apple to get around to having all apps run native on the watch. Tell them now, update the SDK and let them at it. I love my Apple Watch – but the apps that run via the iPhone are… painful. Pointless. I can’t wait to see what’s next in this area.

The one area that might be ripe for revolution? Home Kit. The home automation market is disjointed, and awkward. Why do I want any of these devices? Why don’t I want all of them? I do, I do, but it isn’t clear how this is all going to work out. I am intrigued by the Amazon Echo, Nest, Hunter Douglas smart blinds, Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerator… but I don’t want to kluge these kinds of things together in a way that is sloppy. I want it all nicely integrated. Do I want an Apple refrigerator? No, but I want Apple to figure out how to make all these things play nice with my iPhone. What does that look like? I don’t know, but I keep hoping that someone at Apple does.

Hardware… new Apple Watch? Maybe, but I keep thinking that they’ll do a two year cycle instead of one for the watch. New iOS devices? No – what would we have to look forward to in September if they did that? New monitor? I hope so. New Mac Pro? That would be lovely to pair with the new monitor, and the Mac Pro is seemingly destined to always be out of date. It would be lovely for them to establish a cadence for Pro updates. I’d love to know that every January – or whenever – I should expect to salivate over the most cutting edge specs and features at outrageous prices. New Macbook is the most likely hardware to show up. Contextual toucher replacing the function row of keys? Color me intrigued. And, again, this is a developer show. Give them the reigns and let’s see what is possible.

So yeah, evolutionary. Nothing earth shattering. That will have to wait a while until we realize where we have arrived. This is a lovely technological peak to surveil the future from and decide where to go next. Is Apple ready to show us the next peak? I don’t expect so, but I would love to be surprised. Oh, to heck with it, just sign me up for an iFridge and have it delivered by an iTruck! Let’s go visit the future!