Apple 2016 is all about integration and interoperability. It was almost as if Tim Cook decided the CEO’s job could be a part time endeavor. Part time? There wasn’t much Cook. There was plenty of Cook’s underlings on stage, introducing new products which work better, and work better together. Oh, and there were women. Lots of women.
Geeks, Heels, & Kids
WWDC is all about developers. Rather, it’s all about what Apple wants developers to do, which is to create apps that people buy and hopefully use, so it’s a tech geek’s party of software technology to run on the hardware Apple sells.
It’s a geek fest.
2-million apps on the App Store means there’s plenty of competition among developers. 130-billion downloads says something about Apple’s prowess at managing cloud technology and making money online. $50-billion paid out to developers means Apple is willing to share.
For now, Apple has an intense focus on iOS apps, watchOS apps, tvOS apps (the future of television is apps), and a newly revamped OS X, now appropriately fitting in the mix as macOS, and duly named macOS Sierra (after another famous place in California; no one at Apple took my suggestion of macOS Bakersfield or macOS Death Valley seriously).
The whole show started off with the geekiest of Apple’s visible geeks, Kevin Lynch (yes, that Kevin Lynch, the one from Adobe) and a great demonstration of watchOS 3, due later this year. If Apple is about integrating men and women into keynote presentations, it’s also about interoperability. In watchOS 3 users will get substantial speed increases; apps open quickly. And a new way to navigate that is less clumsy, more intuitive. Think ‘glances become the app Dock.’
Unlike Steve Jobs, Tim Cook isn’t afraid to be the stage moderator and easily and thoughtfully shared the stage with various and sundry underlings. Apple had more women on stage showing off their technology chops than Frederick’s of Hollywood has in a shopping mall window. Skin tight leggings are in at One Infinite Way. So is a bossy, sassy, sexy Apple employee who managed to get an audience of mostly technical geeks to move and groove to a few new parts of Apple Music.
It wasn’t just skirts and heels for the guys. California hunk and OS honcho Craig Federighi wowed the female members in the audience (I don’t have any gender stats from previous keynotes, but it looked like a very mixed group) with his ample knowledge of integrated features– bridging macOS and iOS with ease– self deprecating humor, a touch of virility, ample hair and smile, and some thoughtful tact when a demo didn’t go quite right (I saw two instances; nobody lost their cool).
The new Apple is a mixed bag of integration and interactivity.
The integration is obvious. The keynote stage was shared by a variety of underlings, most of whom appeared poised and in control (kudos to the afro-haired lady in a red dress and heels who could get geeks to move with what might be considered rhythm), and part of a highly integrated team working on products that interoperate as never before.
Siri on the Mac. Siri API’s for developers. More customization for Watch, including a nifty SOS application, onscreen scribbling, watch faces to match Watch bands, a universal clipboard between devices, and a way to Auto Unlock a Mac with Watch or iPhone.
Apple circa 2016 is Tim Cook’s Apple; more relaxed, more confident, more approachable, more diverse, even more thoughtful (so many features are enabled to make using devices easier).
Two items of note.
First, no hardware. Second, no app developers on stage showing off some new technology, other than Swift Playgrounds for iPad users. Cook dubbed iOS the mother of all iOS releases, and it might be, but the new features are all about usability, not some kind of gee whiz moment that looks great onstage but doesn’t do much for real world folks.
This is the new Apple.