Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Apple 2017 WWDC Opening Keynote: What Does It All Mean?

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There was a lot to absorb today in the opening 2+ hour keynote from Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in San Jose, CA.

There are plenty of blog posts that are deconstructing the individual pieces and all the speeds and feeds. As a longtime, but skeptical, Apple fanboy, I thought I’d throw in my two cents…

  • Apple HomePod. Is it a “breakthrough home speaker” or is it Apple’s answer to the home assistant market from which it has been conspicuously absent?  Yes, and yes.  But it’s not about the speaker, nor does it seem to be about Apple’s home assistant. It’s somewhere in between, and with Google Home and Amazon Echoes and Taps flying off the shelves, and introducing new capabilities almost daily, Apple has a LOT of catching up to do here.
  • A new and invigorated Siri…hopefully. — Let’s face it, aside from IBM Watson, Siri was one of the first faces of a common AI. But AI seems to have taken a a few gap years, and certainly hasn’t exactly been studying for the GMAT or LSATs. We did see some new Siri capabilities with iOS 11 today (a more proactive, Google Assistant-like-orientation vis a vis the Apple Watch), a new male voice, and some cool language translation betas. But I, for one, expected to hear more about the newer and smarter Siri.
  • The ARKit Future. Apple’s new augmented reality feature in iOS 11, ARKit, is probably the most exciting “new new” thing we saw on stage today from Apple. The Wingnut AR demo (Peter Jackson’s new AR company) absolutely killed it in terms of future AR direction, and the gaming potential alone could be HUGE. AR is the immediate future of our mobile augmented reality future, and ARKit could be one of the jumpstarters developers need to start to make it (almost) real.
  • Hang on to your MacBook Air. There was lots of advanced chatter about new MacBooks, and that’s just what we got: A new MacBook (it looks like an Air, but doesn’t have the name), new MacBook Pros, a new iMac, and even an iMac Pro. Oh yeah, and a 10.5 inch iPad Pro. Hang on to those vintage 2011-2012 MacBook Airs — you might be able to sell them to desperate MBA loyalists in a few years.
  • Amazon on the Apple TV. Not sure if this is just a strategic hedge against other TV set top players or a me, too, but the really interesting part of this could be the enhanced AI and voice capabilities, especially now that 3rd party developers will be able to write to it.
  • Making new time with the Apple Watch. Okay, I’m a sucker for gimmicks, so the new “Toy Story” character watch faces and animations — all over it. For fitness buffs, the new and improved Activity tracker could help you get rid of that expensive personal trainer, but the headline for the watch for me personally was using Siri’s contextual answers and suggestions (assuming Siri HAS been doing her homework).
  • iPad Multitasking Features. Apple realizes that to jump start iPad sales, it needs to better position the device as a full-on laptop/notebook replacement. To do that, it needs to continually show that the iPad can do more and faster. Today, it introduced several changes that make it easier to multitask, including a new dragging and dropping capability that allows one to move assets between two apps in Split View. Sounds arcane enough, but much needed, even if it was more “me, too” against the Mac OS desktop. Apple also showed off a new File System for iOS and an overhauled App Switcher that should up the ante on the iPod’s potential for taking over as “the” work machine (The new Apple Pencil capabilities, including marking up PDFs, will also help here).

I’ll be keeping an eye out for other reactions, particularly from developers. Apple pointed out the review time for newly-submitted App Store is down to 24 hours, and highlighted the fact that developers have been paid out over $70B U.S. since its launch in 2008, and on pace to deliver $10B+ this year alone. 

Written by turbotodd

June 5, 2017 at 4:00 pm

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