Monday, June 10, 2013

Thoughts about WWDC 2013

My takeaways from today's WWDC announcements (in no particular order):

The UI changes for iOS7 are gorgeous, of course, and I can't wait to make the switch.  I wonder how long it'll take for developers to make the switch too. Many (most?) apps will look ancient until they upgrade to the new, flatter, look; even if the OS does most of the work for free, you can't change this much UI without making older apps look, well, old.

I see Apple finally deprecates the 3GS, but is hanging on to the iPad2. No hints, none whatsoever, about future hardware.

That first (and only) third party demo, of Anki Drive, had the potential to be very cool (hardware! and iOS! from robotics experts! ) but it disappointed, and not just because of the long delay as the company CEO tried to get it to work. Now that hardware is the new software, I'm expecting (and seeing!) some products we could only dream about in the past, so I was expecting a lot more than just another real-life game, however cool that might be. 

It's nice to see more Chinese-specific features, like the overdue Tencent Weibo integration. Looks like there will be a built-in Chinese bilingual dictionary, which is handy but a little odd to compete so directly with excellent third parties. I wonder if there'll be other dictionaries too.

I saw a new Scan API, which I hope means OS-level support for reading QR and maybe UPC codes.

Tags in OSX are a great new feature I'll use a lot, though I hope the file system embeds the tag in the document itself, so it'll work cross-platform.

There's a new "location beacon" feature in iOS7 that looks like a low-power way to let devices tell the phone that they're nearby.  I see it's supported by a new "Core Bluetooth" framework that should make it much easier to build apps to talk to all those new hardware devices that are coming.

Other features, like iCloud keychain or the new Safari features mostly just replicate functionality we've long had from third parties. I didn't see much to tempt me to switch, especially since third parties (like 1Password) are likely to quickly rev themselves to run on top of whatever new functionality Apple adds.

The iWork in the cloud, plus the promised rev of these apps later this year, is big news for Microsoft Office. As always, compatibility -- with Office and with Windows -- is a big issue, so running in the browser is the a great way to solve that.

My overall impression is that Apple continues to plod away with reasonable, incremental improvements to their platforms. Not much here is as revolutionary as some of the really big announcements we saw at recent WWDCs (iPhone 4, iCloud, Retina, etc.) but that's okay by me: I'll be upgrading as soon as I can.

Apple Developer