WWDC ’17

Yesterday’s keynote had a bunch of developments on both the OS and the hard ware side. I liked the starting ‘make apps’ video (at the very start here) – it’s well done, a bit dystopian though. The iMac up-gradation was really long overdue, and thankfully Apple finally worked on those – pretty much in line with expectation though, except the iMac Pro which is a beast. This is different from Mac Pro though, which is expected sometime next year. The focus on Macs was as clear a signal as could be that Apple is still super committed to its Mac line of users. The keynote also shows how Apple really cares for its customers – the privacy features on Safari, and their work on getting rid of buggy ads for ex. The OS updates are awesome, and the new iPad Pros are now finally at a stage wherein they can start to replace Mac books for a lot of people. I haven’t got my hands on one yet, but it did look like it will be super comfortable to work on. I’ve got to admit that some of the hardware (Stylus) updates were delayed, and Microsoft led the way on those with Apple having to catch on. But what makes Apple, Apple is not just the hardware, but the integration of it excellent hardware with its even-more-excellent software. And the iOS on iPad Pro seemed magical.

I really liked their positioning of HomePods. Apple understands music like no one else – iPods, iTunes, Apple Music now – and it is incredibly smart of them to position these as music speakers rather than a smart assistant. The company thinks very deeply about music – see this keynote from 2006, Jobs explains in such detail about how music should be listened to at home; this device does all the things he talks about. It’s not exactly a secret that Siri lags heavily in intelligence vis-a-vis Amazon Echo or Google Now, but with this positioning, they aren’t really competing with the smart assistants. Buyers would buy them for their excellent acoustics (and the keynote on HomePods was all about sound quality really) and the Siri assistant would be a cherry on top (they call it musicologist – really really smart to shift the attention completely away from Siri). So this would make them far ahead of Sonos et al now, and they aren’t competing with Echo, Google now. Although – of course they are! And that’s the beauty – as Siri gets better (and it has to, for Apple to hold the lead), the use cases will evolve and some day it will truly be a smart assistant as well. For now, it doesn’t need to.

It would also be interesting to watch how the new App store plays out. The app store did get sort of boring, and I don’t really remember the last time I tried to hang out on the App store the way I used to back in the day. The revamped store might be an effort to fix it – would be more of a curated experience, and should hopefully be better.

The P2P payments addition on the Apple Pay is quite interesting. Given the influence and power the tech leaders of today wield – including Apple, I suspect this could make things difficult for the e-wallets of the world (Venmo, paytm). Because if there’s one thing that I can bet on, it’s that Apple will provide a much more seamless and superior experience. I can trust it to be safer, and I will never be concerned about privacy issues with Apple. So I don’t see why I would use a different service. We’ll get to see soon though.

All in all, great updates in the keynote. The presentations – not so much; I miss Steve Jobs.

 

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