WWDC this year may have been the usual love fest for developers, which is fair enough: it is a developers’ conference. But with no hardware to introduce, the journalists there must have left deflated. Steve Jobs famously used to end a string of new product/model announcements with his ‘one more thing …’. This year’s WWDC had no more thing.
This was despite the longstanding ruminations on a potential Apple Car, all the fuzzy pictures of supposed iPhone 7 parts, the usual intense poring over patent filings, the well-accepted idea that the MacBook Pro is due a refresh; the expected second generation of Apple Watch… Apple clearly has decided to introduce hardware via a different songbook, with the last three WWDCs in a row all scaling down hardware announcements until we reached this year’s nothing.
This year’s event wasn’t even referred to as a keynote, but as an Apple Special Event (you can watch it online), implying Apple can hold Special Events whenever it wants. Which it can, of course, and as it always has – but it’s a change in emphasis.
On the one hand, Apple has redefined WWDC as the dedicated engineering convention it was always meant to be. On the other, it chimes nicely with Apple’s penchant not to release new products until they’re absolutely ready for market, for which we should all be thankful. Having to have new hardware ready every year at the same time must have been a hard task.
But it means we’ll stop looking forward to WWDC the way we used to.
Apple still introduced some new things at the Bill Graham Auditorium in San Francisco: more diversity, for a start. Under jobs, pretty much every other person who took the stage was a white middle aged male like him. This year’s stage featured four women amongst the usual types.
Even the fact that Swift can be introduced to younger programmers now on iPad, tanks to Swift Playgrounds, is significant. Lots of us older Apple fans can mess around with this and get an inkling of what coding in Swift is actually like – it may even lead to some new careers amongst us, too.
Tim Cook started his keynote talking about the “unconscionable act of terrorism and hate” in Orlando, stressing Apple’s diversity, and had everyone stand in silence for a moment. It’s hard to believe it’s something Jobs would have done; Cook brings a very welcome humanity to the helm of Apple.
In other changes, more Apple tech was opened up to developers: Maps and Siri APIs.
So, y’all, it’s a new era at Apple.
But I still want some new stuff. Get it right, Apple, sure – but please don’t keep us waiting too long!