Like all tech folk I ate dinner early yesterday & sat down to watch the live stream of the WWDC 2015. This is a big day in the tech calendar & we often learn of new & exciting things coming out of the super secret Apple engineering labs. It wasn’t quite as good as 2013 when I was in San Francisco for the WWDC but I can’t complain.
The three big announcements this year where iOS 9, OSX El Capitan and Watch OS – With a little extra bit at the end for Apple Music & Beats 1 radio. All exciting things & a lot to get your head around.
The thing I’m most excited about is OSX El Capitan. Whilst the name won’t be to everyone’s liking the underlying improvements should be. Improving the architecture of the OS and utilising Metal to boost core graphics and core animation by almost 50%, not to mention improving efficiency by providing low overhead access to the GPU should be of great benefit to OSX users. This is achieved by shifting more processing over to the GPU without the overhead for faster processing and a snappier feel. The demo that Epic gave of the upcoming title Fortnite ran crisp & smooth on the test hardware. Also with Swift now going open source I expect to see a lot more development using swift & with more integration of swift into El Capitan we should see some great stuff from developers.
I will be really interested to see if Metal and other improvements will run on older hardware. I’m still using an early 2009 iMac as my main development machine which is still more than capable and as yet not worth the upgrade. We do have a newer Macbook pro but I will be over the moon if this runs well on our older hardware too. I had to revert back to Mountain Lion on the main machine as Yosemite was very buggy & full of memory leaks. It ran at an acceptable speed but nowhere near as fast as ML. From the App Store reviews it seems a lot of people have had issues with Yosemite so I reverted back to ML until such a time that stability is improved.
iOS 9 was also announced at WWDC and some of the new features do look great. Most notably the new News app looks like a game changer. It’s essentially a proprietary RSS aggregator using apples own mark-up but the articles and formatting did look great on the demo. I wonder how it will work now more & more news content is going behind a pay wall? I tend to use the BBC app on iOS for my news and Feedly for all of my other RSS feeds but in the days of twitter I tend to follow the major sources of news such as Cnet, The Verge, The Register etc and read their articles as & when they tweet a link. With tweetbot this works great as I can view them in reader view. If news works as suggested & the news outlets do adopt the platform it will be amazing, if they decide not to support News it may just add to the already fragmented news/article reading experience.
Also in iOS 9 apple announced new multi tasking & keyboard functions along with split screen multi tasking. Granted the Split Screen will only work on Apple’s flagship iPad Air 2 but for future generations it’s the right direction to go for tablets. The new keyboard functions including using two fingers to create a trackpad with cursor have been a long time coming. How often are you trying to edit text in iOS, it magnifies where it thinks you want the cursor to be then starts jumping all over the place. Not Cool.
The new multi tasking does look great & should help people be even more productive with a tablet. As an old school techie I would never be without a desktop computer *shivers*, however many people now only have a smart phone or tablet for all of their computing tasks so the more capable these machines are the better for everyone who designs or develops apps & websites. The more people we have actively online the greater potential we have to achieve great things with our work.
Also announced for iOS 9 are new Maps which include better walking & transit maps. Granted these will only support major cities so the majority of people will never benefit from this, however it should be a good improvement when visiting unfamiliar cities, especially by integrating mass transit into maps itself. It will give you detailed instructions including transit times and numbers along with detailed internal maps of stations. I’m a bit of a mass transit geek so don’t often struggle with figuring out subways and trains, however for many people this is a hugely daunting task so can only be a good thing.
Finally apple announced a more energy-efficient iOS 9, with an estimated 1 hour extra of battery life under general usage & a new low energy mode to conserve upto an additional 3 hours of battery time. That’s got to be a good thing as smart phones become more and more etched into our lives. A few other things were announced for iOS 9 but I’m just covering the things that got me excited.
With regards Watch OS I’m not really that excited. The Apple Watch is a great device, I’ve played with them & love them, however I just don’t have a need for one yet. I may in the future pick one up but right now it’s just not something I want or need. The fact that apps will run natively in Watch OS 2 is great for developers. I’m sure developers will come up with uses for the apple watch that apple never even dreamed of. I’m just not prepared to be an early adopter on this so not much to say on Watch OS.
Just as we all thought the WWDC keynote was over we heard Tim Cook mention we have something else to talk about. I for one was preying it was an Apple TV update but alas it was something completely different. Apple Music & Beats 1 was announced. As always when apple bring in musicians to talk to a room of developers it all gets a little awkward and weird. Almost like they have had the worst actor in the building quickly learn a script that goes totally wrong. I was happy to see Trent Reznor talking about Apple Music & his involvement and the service does look good. I’ll be happy to get my 3 month trial on the 30th June when iOS 8.4 comes out.
Apple Music is essentially all the best bits of Spotify, myspace of old, twitter, instagram, facebook and music news websites all rolled into one. With connect you can follow your favourite artists, see latest releases & checkout stuff they are working on & generally connect more with your favourite artists. This has been a long time coming. Since the shift from physical media to MP3/AAC/Streaming storage & acquisition of music has become far easier, but the social aspects of music & music discovery have faltered. I used to love going to a record shop(s) and browsing the racks, seeing new releases, chatting with like-minded people & hearing new music in store. I loved swapping CD’s with friends & discovering new bands. In the age of iTunes & streaming this has all but disappeared. I’m hoping that the new connect service goes some way to bridging that gap & hopefully artists will promote music they love & not just self promote. The new discovery tools are apparently user curated & not algorithm led so hopefully the suggestions will be just as good as those made by your mates/peers back in the CD/Tape/Vinyl days.
Alongside the Apple Music subscription service they announced beats 1 radio. Broadcasting out of London, NYC & LA it’s meant to be a 24 hour global radio station. I hope that they bring some more countries into the mix as broadcasting from two US locations & London hardly seems representative of the world. I’m glad to see they brought in Zane Lowe. I didn’t like a lot of his Radio 1 stuff but that’s simply because I don’t rate mainstream chart music, however in his early MTV days & in his own music taste this guy does know what he is talking about. It may finally shake up the old chart system & broadcast radio nonsense & finally expose some new genuine talent.
So that’s my quick recap of WWDC 2015. I hope I managed to express what parts of WWDC I most enjoyed. Did you guys watch? What in particular are you looking forward to?