WWDC de­con­structed

We ex­am­ine not just what was an­nounced at the key­note ad­dress of this, the 25th an­niver­sary of Ap­ple’s World­wide De­vel­oper Con­fer­ence, but also how it was an­nounced – and what that tells us about Ap­ple

Mac Format - - WWDC 2014 - Words: Christo­pher Phin & Matthew Bolton Im­ages: Getty Im­ages and Ap­ple, Inc

What is a de­vel­oper?

The key­note kicked off with a video that cel­e­brated de­vel­op­ers and the work they do – apt, given the au­di­ence mostly com­prised devs, and this was a key­note filled with stuff that mat­ters to devs rather than con­sumers. It be­gan with people de­scrib­ing what they think devs would be like, of­ten in terms that evoked tired old stereo­types – “a guy be­hind a door that’s got enough of a crack that can slide a pizza un­der­neath”. Amus­ingly, this dude sug­gested devs prob­a­bly wear glasses…

Cook ap­peared to be re­laxed and con­fi­dent – enough even to be in a play­ful mood

Cook hits his stride

On his first few ap­pear­ances, it was clear Tim Cook didn’t have the com­mand­ing eas­i­ness on stage that we came to as­so­ciate with Steve Jobs. But this time, he strode onto the stage with a big grin, a cheery wave, and a bel­lowed “good morn­ing!”; it may be that he’s get­ting more com­fort­able in this role, it may be he knew he didn’t have to carry the whole thing (Craig Fed­erighi es­pe­cially, Ap­ple’s Se­nior VP of Soft­ware En­gi­neer­ing, would shoul­der a lot of the re­spon­si­bil­ity), or it may be he knew the devs in the au­di­ence (and those watch­ing around the world) would love not just the specifics of what was about to be an­nounced, but also the change in tone and spirit of Ap­ple that they seemed to por­tend. What­ever it was, this was at least Cook (and Ap­ple) ap­pear­ing to be re­laxed and con­fi­dent – enough even to be in a play­ful mood.

Play­ing the per­cent­ages

Ap­ple claims Mav­er­icks – launched in Oc­to­ber 2013 – is in­stalled on half of all Macs, and that Win­dows 8 – launched a year ear­lier – has made it onto only 14% of PCs. This isn’t just Ap­ple en­gag­ing in a some light rib­bing of Mi­crosoft. Devs like an op­er­at­ing sys­tem that’s adopted quickly, since it lets them: a) fo­cus their de­vel­op­ment and test­ing on a smaller num­ber of ver­sions; b) use new fea­tures in the OS and de­vel­op­ment en­vi­ron­ments to do in­no­va­tive things; and c) do old things bet­ter.

iDisk 2.0

Do you re­mem­ber iDisk? In­tro­duced in 2000 as part of the iTools suite (which mor­phed into .Mac then Mo­bileMe then iCloud), it was web-based stor­age into which you could chuck any­thing. But it had spe­cial fold­ers that did par­tic­u­lar things, such as let­ting you run a small web­site from the Sites folder, or shar­ing files through Pub­lic. Ap­ple canned it when it in­tro­duced iCloud, but now, with iCloud Disk, it’s back, pretty much. There are dif­fer­ences, but it does feel like Ap­ple is ad­mit­ting de­feat: it tried to in­tro­duce a new, sim­pler doc­u­ment man­age­ment sys­tem (ap­par­ent on iOS where the full file sys­tem isn’t ex­posed to the user, and ‘sand-box­ing’ of apps is even more ag­gres­sive) that worked per-app, but it seems Ap­ple is lis­ten­ing and is mak­ing a tacit ad­mis­sion that we’re not ready to move on from files and fold­ers yet. (Or that no­body has worked out a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive.) The per-app si­los are still there – in fold­ers – but you can be more flex­i­ble as well, be­cause apps can open com­pat­i­ble documents from in­side the si­los of other apps.

The jokes be­gin…

Ap­ple has switched from nam­ing OS X af­ter big cats over to places in Cal­i­for­nia, and Mav­er­icks’ suc­ces­sor needed a new name. This gave Fed­erighi the ex­cuse for many gags, first sug­gest­ing OS X 10.10 was nearly (for the sake of the joke) named af­ter the city of Weed in Siskiyou County, Cal­i­for­nia. Frankly, not all of Ap­ple’s cringy gags worked, but, the hu­mour was happy and goofy in a way that Jobs’ acer­bic hu­mour never was. Whether this is good or bad is up to you, but it was em­blem­atic of a shift in how Ap­ple pre­sents it­self.

Fed­erighi sug­gested OS X 10.10 was nearly named af­ter the city of Weed in Cal­i­for­nia

Cook was ba­si­cally say­ing: don’t ex­pect the iPhone 6 to be an­nounced to­day

Em­brace the dark side

The in­tro­duc­tion of the dark mode in OS X Yosemite – switch­ing from translu­cent white for the win­dow and other in­ter­face el­e­ments in the new de­sign to translu­cent black – got a big re­ac­tion from the crowd. And, if you watch care­fully, you’ll catch Fed­erighi al­low­ing him­self a pleased lit­tle smile at the ap­plause.

It’s all about the devs

“You’re also go­ing to see the mother of all re­leases for de­vel­op­ers; it’s so huge we’ve ded­i­cated an en­tire sec­tion of the pre­sen­ta­tion just for this,” Cook said to a cap­tive world­wide au­di­ence. We weren’t even 10 min­utes into the key­note pre­sen­ta­tion, and Ap­ple was al­ready be­gin­ning to clearly sig­nal what we now know to be ab­so­lutely true. That is, while many had come to ex­pect Ap­ple to make sig­nif­i­cant an­nounce­ments specif­i­cally aimed at the wider pub­lic (even dur­ing a de­vel­oper-fo­cused event), this key­note was go­ing to be heav­ily skewed to­wards the devs. It was Cook ba­si­cally say­ing (and say­ing it nice and early): don’t ex­pect the iPhone 6 to be an­nounced to­day.

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