WWDC 2013: It’s About Time

on Monday, Jun. 10th

It’s June and another year has gone by for Apple, which means that yet another World Wide Developer’s Conference is here. If you’re one of the six million registered developers creating something for one of Apple’s platforms (iOS or OS X), then this is like nerd summer camp to learn all the tips, tricks, and changes to their platform of choice. Basically: it’s a big deal for developers and fanboys alike, and I qualify as both.

As usual, the conference started out with Apple’s self-congratulatory keynote address. And while some of the numbers Tim Cook put in front of us were impressive (50 billion apps downloaded; 900,000 apps in the app store with 90% of those apps downloaded each month; and 575 million Apple ID accounts – most with credit cards), everyone was really there to hear about the version of iOS being released this fall: iOS 7. However, Apple’s CEO made us all sit through updates about:

OS X Mavericks. There’s a whole new naming scheme for the operating system that doesn’t involve cats.. Yes, they really did start out with OS X Cheetah and end on Mountain Lion. That’s what progress looks like, folks. Oh yeah, they also made a few changes to the operating system that all pretty much amount to “it’s about time.”

The New Mac Pro. Apple didn’t say much about this except that it’s coming. It was basically a sneak preview. In a nutshell: it’s smaller than before; the top of the computer is a handle (because everyone loves that); any device expansion will need to be done externally through Thunderbolt (to further lock you into the Apple ecosystem since no one else has really jumped on to Thunderbolt yet); there are motion sensors (why? I don’t know); and it’s got dual GPUs and Xeon processors. Since the Mac Pro line has been long overdue for a refresh, this also came down to: “it’s about time.”

iWork for iCloud. Now Apple’s iWork suite of applications will work in a web browser (hi, Google). I don’t know why it took them so long to make this happen, but it did. Google Docs has become the default browser productivity suite and this version of iWork doesn’t even seem to allow real time collaboration. The only people with a worse productivity cloud strategy right now than Apple is Microsoft. MS Office Live built on Share Point? Come on, Redmond. Regardless, thanks Apple, but you’re still playing catch-up with Google.

The obligatory AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule upgrades. If I had strained any harder to hear from my seat way in the back I’m sure I would have heard a collective yawn.

The New MacBook Air. I have to give it to them, this was one of the most exciting parts of the presentation to me. They’re bumping up the standard hard drive space to 128 GB on the base models and due to the addition of Intel’s new Haskell processor, they managed to just about double the battery life on the base models. That alone made me stand up and cheer.

And last but definitely not least: iOS 7! So, in case you hadn’t heard, there’s a significant design change. But more importantly, they finally put in the one thing that will make life in iOS so much easier: a system control panel that swipes up from the bottom of the screen. So now, instead of having to go to your home screen and finding your System Settings icon just to turn bluetooth or wifi on and off, all you have to do is swipe upwards. All of you Android fanboys out there will point out that Android had that functionality years ago. So? That doesn’t mean I can’t be excited about it. What else am I looking forward to? They have a flashlight app now embedded in that same system control panel! Even in this case, despite my excitement, do you want to know how I feel? You guessed it: “it’s about time”.

As I noted, there are few bigger fanboys out there than me. I have an iPad Mini, an iPad Biggie (aka: iPad 4), an iPhone 4S, an iPod Shuffle, and a MacBook Air. I even pay for both 25 gigs of iCloud storage and iTunes Match. I’ve sold and/or lost more Apple hardware than I can count. However, even I was decidedly underwhelmed by the WWDC announcements. I do not believe that Apple’s best days are behind it. Tim Cook has quite a lot to handle right now. Between the Android onslaught coming from Samsung and Google’s wearble computing nuclear warfare, there are a lot of expectations on his shoulders. My fear is that even though iOS 7 may be a solid operating system, the perception that Apple’s not innovating fast enough may cause the industry to start speaking of it as they do Yahoo. And that would not be a good thing for Apple or its shareholders.


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