Last week was an interesting week. After posting up My wishes and predictions the day before the opening keynote, I waited with expectation to see what Apple would announce. Being in Australia, the keynote was to begin at 3am. I set my alarm for 2:50am (yes, I had to watch it live!), got up, put on the live stream on my AppleTV, and waited for it to begin.
And, for the first time, my lovely wife also elected to watch it live with me!
Since then, I’ve managed to watch about a half-dozen more session videos
I made three specific predictions that I was quite confident about:
New OS X 10.10 with UI refinements and “some new functionality”. Well, I think Apple has done really well here. I’m running the beta on a test partition, and I must say I’m impressed with it so far. The overall changes make sense - the consistent layering and uses of transparency to give a sense of place (like in iOS). It’s borrowed the best ideas from iOS without trying to become iOS, and so it continues to excel as a desktop operating system. One little thing I noticed is that I can now use Retina display modes on my 28” 4k Dell screen with rotation. Now I can run my 4k screen (attached to a 2012 iMac) in portrait mode!
iOS 8 to support iPad 2 / iPad mini and iPhone 4s and above. Check - no surprises here. (My poor old iPhone 4… I guess it may be finally time for an upgrade this year? I need current test devices, after all!)
Continued cross-pollination between iOS and OS X while maintaining the individual indentity of each OS. Well… Apple exceeded by a long way my expectations in this regard. I am so looking forward to using iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 as my primary environments.
These are the things I hoped Apple would do, but were not predictions, per se:
Further improvements to the Multipeer framework. Well… there are a few extremely minor API tweaks (changing some properties from assign to weak), but other than that, nothing developer- or user-facing. Hopefully Apple has squashed more bugs here.
Multipeer framework on OS X with full feature parity. Yeah! Delivered!
Full AirDrop support between iOS and OS X. Awesome!
New inter-app communication on iOS. Apple gave us this too with extensions!
Interface Builder improvements, specifically for iPad storyboards on smaller screens. What I meant by this - have you ever tried to edit a storyboard on an 11” Macbook Air screen? If you zoom out, you can see the whole canvas, but you can’t edit UI elements. If you zoom in to 100% in order to edit the UI, you can barely see a whole iPad screen. This is unchanged, so bombed out here (although it’s not that big of an issue).
Surprises and other goodies
Apple pulled quite a few rabbits out of its hat during WWDC. These are the things that have stuck with me the most (with the caveat that I haven’t watched all the session videos I’m interested in yet).
The first nice little surprise was a little “mention” of my iPad app SongSheet in the nearby networking talk. Right near the beginning the presenter showed a slide with a bunch of app icons. SongSheet was one of them! They didn’t talk about it, though, probably because we haven’t actually turned on the networking functionality in the release build yet!
The Swift Programming Language and Playgrounds
This one caught everyone by surprise. A very pleasant surprise, too. Having recently (a week or so before WWDC) been introduced to Bret Victor’s work on Learnable Programming I was very interested to try out Playgrounds. Despite their limitations, it has proved a very valuable way to make myself familiar with the language and try out ideas. The language itself is also very well designed and I am falling in love with it more each day. I (like many others) have already decided to switch to Swift as my primary development language for iOS and OS X.
Unified iPhone/iPad storyboards
This one is very welcome, too. The ability to build just one storyboard that supports all devices is very cool. And it’s obvious that Apple is preparing us for new form factors/sizes with the whole compact/regular layout thing.
The ability to easily pick up a task on a different device is a very nice addition to the overall Apple ecosystem, and will keep me “locked in” for a while to come ;)
Extensions and Widgets and Keyboards, Oh My!
As I already mentioned, I wanted new and improved inter-app communication on iOS, and Apple certainly delivered in this regard, in a way that still retains the basic security model. I’m really looking forward to diving into seeing what I can do with Extensions.
iCloud drive and other improvements
From an end-user perspective, iCloud drive is going to make things so much easier in my household with multiple computers and home-schooled kids.
As to the new iCloud functionality for developers, that’s also very welcome.
There is so much more I could write about, but those, for now, are the big-ticket items for me. I’m sure as I dive further into all the new goodies there’ll be other things I’ll get excited about!