Tag Archives: announcement

The long and the slow and the Swift


Typical shoddy image of something on the ’net that's supposed to mean something for a new iPhone
Typical shoddy image of something on the ’net that’s supposed to mean something for a new iPhone

Well, here it is folks, Apple Watch (number 486 no less) is here, now on Mac NZ until further notice, in which I will continue to divine goodness-knows-what (goodness, at least) from Apple’s rather scant tealeaves at least once a week. I mean, there are plenty of rumours that seem to emanate mysteriously from third-party suppliers, but I don’t believe anything until an Apple announcement, and I (usually) shy away from passing on rumours.

Speaking of which, of course, there’s an Apple announcement coming up on the 9th September. We’ll know more (in New Zealand) the following day, so eyes on the 10th.
And what might that announcement be? The most leaks have been about Apple releasing ‘bigger’ iPhones, which worries me as this once again means Apple is following the competition rather than leading it. You could say the same, for example, about the iPad mini following smaller-format tablets that other tech companies released; Steve Jobs had vowed Apple would never make a smaller iPad. (Please note, I have one and I love it.)
Once upon a time the shoe was on the other foot: Apple was fighting off (very publicly, in the courts) those who looked like they had copied Apple’s lead. As an Apple fan, of course, I’d have to hope new, bigger iPhones (if that’s what’s coming) have a lot more going for them than just bigger screens. Because bigger screens by themselves … I don’t get, for two main reasons: 1/ a bigger iPhone is for that limited market of people who don’t want a phone and a tablet, but one device that serves as both; and 2/ why would I want a phone that’s bigger, heavier and harder talk on, and that hardly fits in my pocket? Not to mention it would be easier for potential thieves to spot.

But hey, we can’t get carried away. There are plenty of other rumours that may or may not bear fruit (ha-ha) on North America’s 9th September: Retina iMacs, Retina MacBook Airs, Retina Thunderbolt displays (I’m discerning a certain theme) … not to mention, of course, some kind of wearable thing (the Legendary and Mythical iWatch), a new Mac mini (it could do with a refresh) and some may even remember last year’s rumour de jour, the Apple Television (although this one I always thought was crazy).
And if you look at all the sudden special prices announced on various Macs across New Zealand, it may well be new Macs that form at least part of the announcement: Apple likes to get rid of stocks of outgoing models and its resellers don’t like being saddled with ‘old’ models, either. Sales flurry – and you don’t see deals very often with Apple products, so yes it’s significant.
Of course, Apple could just be releasing the finished versions of Yosemite (aka Mac OS 10.10) and iOS 8. I mean, we actually know they are coming for sure, we just don’t know when beyond Apple’s release forecast of ‘fall’ (ie, the northern autumn). But that release vaguery does allow Apple three months of wiggle room to get things right.

Which brings me back to Swift, the new programmer language Apple announced at WWDC this June. The reason I find Swift so exciting is that it give programmers even more scope to make even greater things. Because, bare-bones, there isn’t all that much to differentiate an iPhone or iPad or Mac from its various competitors, hardware wise. Sure, they’re usually designed to a higher standard. And they’re assembled to a higher standard. Most importantly for Apple users, they all go in to make the criticised (and much loved by Apple fans) ‘ecosystem’ in that they all work together to be more than the sum of their parts.
But the real advantage is as a platform for excellent software. The iPhone, once developers got their hands on Software Development Kits, really took off once their ingenuity could get to work, building incredible apps and services.

No, I’m not saying Android developers aren’t geniuses too. You’re geniuses too, OK? I’m just saying an iPhone wouldn’t be all that fantastic with just Apple’s stock apps on it (and if you think it is, boy are you missing out!). But with ten of my favourite apps on it, it’s utterly indispensable.
But in the realm of leaks and secrecy, Apple worked on Swift for four years, and when it was released, no one had a clue it was coming. Over five thousands WWDC attendee mouths opened all at once on that one. Of course, Swift was developed entirely in house at Apple Inc, Cupertino.
If ever there was a reason Apple might bring its production back to the US, it might be because Apple would have much tighter control over the entire supply chain than it seemingly has now – barely a day goes by that some nondescript part for the purported new Apple whatever doesn’t appear on the ’net (like the image above, from, understandably, MacRumors, supposedly from the 3x resolution of resolution of 1704 x 960). This kind of thing must drive Tim Cook to distraction, and I sympathise.

But when we finally get our deliciously free prime updates to the software for Mac and iDevice, we’ll see the first real results of what that release of Swift actually meant back in June. Real world.
And that’s exciting.

[By the way, feedback is welcome. There’s a Leave a Comment link at the top. Don’t bother venting your spleen at me for liking Apple, and don’t use swearwords, as I get to approve/delete comments. PC and Android lovers comments are otherwise most welcome – the Herald cut loads out, in case you were wondering. And Cameron Slater: don’t even think about it! You’re possibly the only NZ Apple user I’m embarrassed about, or if there are others, you’d be at the very top of the list by a long way. And since Macs are so secure, how on earth did you manage to get yours hacked? So I assume it was your server, not your Mac.]