With WWDC winding down, we can now reflect on just what’s been announced. In Tim Cook’s keynote speech he actually promised and delivered a lot. The rumour mill wasn’t far off this time in what was to come. However, until Apple says it, one never really knows what to expect.
In this article, I won’t go into detail what was released as a great deal has been written on the intricacies of all that was announced. Rather, I’d like to step back and reflect on what this means in terms of a larger picture view as to where we’re going over the next ten years. The last ten years certainly was exciting and the next ten will be no less so only we’re probably, in all likelihood, going to see even more of a societal shift.
A Different Tone
What was striking was noy only what was announced but the manner in which it was announced. Everything was well presented but not in as much the enthusiastic tone of the past but one that was excited yet serious and subdued. I feel it was a more of a visionary speech while at the same time representing the values Apple has always aspired to. That is, products that are great but yet products that represent Apple’s core values of excellent design that will please the customer.
This is a mildly different Apple than the one of Steve Jobs. It maintained his sense of excitement for what’s to come but with a more subtle and serious approach to ensure that the customer will receive great products. And what he announced will lead Apple elegantly onward.
The products are very forward looking and reflect the changes that are likely to come in the next ten years. Changes towards mobility, platforms that will enable that mobility efficiently, a continued and rapid move towards more cloud bases services and what Sun Computer Systems used to refer to as the “network is the computer”.
The Platforms were the key highlights of the keynote
Although the hardware announcements were welcome, especially that of the Mac Pro, it was the IOS and OSX platforms that outshone anything announced. In both cases, from an interface level there’s a stronger move to enhance the user experience in working with the hardware. This is essential for if cloud based services are going to grow as dramatically as is expected, the hardware and the platforms that run on that hardware not only needs to be robust but very approachable. That is, the user experience in dealing with cloud services has to be as simply enabled as possible. A whole new era in the way we approach the world is unfolding. Its already begun. The physical and the virtual is becoming more harmonius yet it is the virtual world that could easily eclipse the physical. Certainly not in all things but the writing is on the wall.
This already has started through ecommerce, sync’g of our devices, group work sharing and on it goes. Operating systems of the past were oriented more to the client at the destop and although they supported web interfaces that reached out into the ether to capture information and deliver it, we are moving rapidly in a direction where we are working with that out there in the cloud now exchanging, sharing, buying and functioning not necessarily in a phyiscial office but wherever you happen to make your office. As such, the network to connect people and push information to and from various sites, services, coworkers and business requires a whole new way of conceptualizing what’s required to enable that world.
Ease of use of our products is ever more critical when the network becomes the computer. Not only that, the platforms that are running on this network as the computer model must be incredibly robust. Thus, we have a very exciting new OSX coming that not only supports gee whiz functions but provides a backend robust enough to take on the tasks of the next ten years. Its an OS that will be more approachable and manageable than ever yet increasingly robust.
OSX has gone through a number of exciting iterations that has taken us to what we have today. I will go so far as to say the absolute best operating system there is. Built on a tried a true and very mature core UNIX, the capabilities it has been endowed with have been no less that remarkable. Yet for all this power, it is at the same time the most approachable of the platforms available for computing.
Mavericks not only follows in that tradition but continues to expand on it. Yet, there is an interesting emphasis on its core underpinnings and a focus on its performance, durability and thus robustness. As I said earlier, if we are to move into an evolving vitual world based on say the cashless society as that’s what we are now bordering on, the systems that support this have to be reliable and definitely approachable. That is, they have to work when we need them to work and we have to know how to easily make them work.
IOS 7 the Jaw Dropper
This announcement has both been this is just so right on to well I’m not so sure about that at least until I get my hands on it. Criticized by some designers as ugly to revered by others as bar non the most elegant* and clean interface* of our mobile products, it is definitely Apple’s most profound IOS change since the introduction of IOS. That’s nice as we will be getting a brand new device without having to buy a brand new device.
Although this OS upgrade of IOS is undergoing one of the most thorough scrutinies I have ever seen, for all the skepticism, this looks as if it will be a top notch upgrade. From a UI (user interface) persective, I like the cleaner, more minimalist style which is actually more in vogue amongst software designers generally. It just looks nice. Although it is viewed as a profound change to IOS, it is and it isn’t. It retains enough of the IOS we know and love to allow us to get going full on with this when we get it. Thus, it will be only a matter of learning how to access some of the newer features and from what I’ve seen it strikes me as quite intuitive. Reading a manual I doubt will be necessary but possibly just a quick start guide to frame the new OS.
IOS 7 also goes a long way to address some of the shortcomings of IOS that developers were looking for. Additionally, for the end user I believe it provides a fresh new look and feel that is more modern and in keeping with the times. The support for this future of ours that’s unfolding is being implemented in IOS 7. The cashless society is not so far fetched.
A Very Good and Profound WWDC 2013
All and all, I can easily say not only was this a good WWDC but it was also profound in the way it demonstrated a slightly different presence for Apple. Apple still wants to give us the best, high quality, well designed computing experience but they are doing this with an architectural vision based on foundational concepts that ready them and us, the Apple user, for the future. We’ll still enjoy our Apple products as much as ever and they will continue to enhance our productivity. However, we won’t find ourselves standing at a cliff with no where to go but back if we haven’t already slid over as these current frontiers expand dramatically before our eyes.