Wednesday, June 12, 2013

WWDC Keynote reactions

Monday morning, Apple kicked off their developer's conference with their traditional keynote. I was tempted to write my thoughts after seeing the keynote monday afternoon but I decided to wait and watch the video again before commenting so I could avoid any knee jerk reactions.

Now, not much was really said in the keynote, which focuses on a handful of really hot topics. And I'm not a developer at the moment so I haven't seen the beta softwares in depth. So this will be based on what was shown and a few bits from sites that did get the software.

So here goes.

Most of the talk about the new Mac OS was about performance upgrades rather than appearance. While I don't really understand most of the stuff they were talking about if they work as claimed I will be happy with the results. In particular the whole RAM and energy use stuff. Any user can get happy about the notion of more battery life, less electric costs and less of the infamous beach ball.

Finder can now go full screen. I'm not so keen on this or the tabs bit but for those that want it, okay. What I am excited about is this new ability to keyword tag files. I like this idea of being able to label with more than just a handful of colors and even to search/sort by those tags with presumably the ability to use boolean operators to both include and exclude items and create saved smart searches. Being a tad OCD I like the notion of keeping my pictures, movies etc in their corresponding user folders. But often I have projects with a little of everything. So I either have to keep them together in one of the folders, create a bunch of aliases or search out all the bits as needed. Now I can tag them and create my search and it doesn't matter where they are. This could also be potentially useful if you save something in an odd spot as the tag will lead it to it.

I'm not a supergeek but I admit that the whole Multiple Display thing makes me giddy. I do from time to time work off two screens so I like that they can work as separate items with total control. And being able to Airplay and have a second or even third screen is a step in the direction of that Microsoft Pixel Sense/Surface Table that has been flashed around in movies and tv shows that I would love to have just for the total geek of it. Get my iPad into the game of moving things around in a kind of Apple Remote/Remote log in type way and I might geek myself to death. If Netflix ever released a desktop app for Watch Instantly and I'd at least risk injury.

Safari has been a bit of a bane in my life. I tend to be working with several windows and tabs and thus far it likes to lock up like crazy. So everything that makes it run faster and smoother is good to me. I also really like the sliding out sidebar for bookmarks etc. I'm not so jazzed about the shared links as I don't really twitter etc on my computer but the mini tabs for Bookmarks and Reading List are cool. And it looks really nice. I think adding History to that would have been good also. I also can help but wonder if the same tagging like Finder has might be good in Safari for bookmarks for instant sorting. One tag I might like to have would be to tag bookmarks to go to iCloud (the untagged being kept local) as I have lots of sites that don't run well on my devices that are just bulking up my device bookmarks.

iCloud Keychain is one of those remnants from MobileMe that I felt was a keeper so I'm happy to see it back. And I like that the system can create a complex password for you. There's just one thing that I didn't like and that's a lack of password for it to show or input anything. Perhaps it is there that you have to put in your Apple ID password to see the details and they didn't just show it. But if it's not I think it should be. And perhaps even to fill in also. Otherwise it would be too easy for, say, my roommate to be using my computer while I'm out of the room and charge something to one of my saved cards. Or a kid to do it to Mom/Dad and bring back that whole IAP-gate from the App Store.

Notifications get some jazzing up with replying from the notification banner which is cool. I like I can also delete emails from the notifications even if Mail isn't open. Now I can zap junk messages quicker. They didn't show any of this working from the actual side bar but hopefully at least the deleting might work. It would be cool to be able to delete junk and then when I do open mail they just vanish for me. And the push alerts is cool with the ability to control which apps can do this or not.

The new Calendar is nice. I like being able to add Facebook events with their own tag. Plus the drag and add is so much easier than the current 'quick event'. And the travel time is great although I wish you could pick a location to calculate from. I might be adding something for next week from work but my last location was home.

Not really surprised that there's Maps on Mac now. I like the integration with Calendar and being able to push routes to devices. Ranking favorite routes and editing routes (with the ability to submit them to a central database) would be nice additions in the near future. I find that even the best database sometimes has crappy driving directions in areas so being able to get different routes from local users is handy. iBooks has also been added. I'm not likely to use it as I am not one for reading for long times on my computer but for those that want it, I'm glad it's here. And I do like the way you can spread out your window and your sticky notes appear on the sides. That is cool and perhaps something that will come over to the iOS version. I would like to see that same tagging from Finder in here to create instant collections even with one book appearing many places.

General Appearance

Over all I'm impartial. I'm not particularly fond of the super bright 'disco' colors but I suspect they were chosen because they're pure tones for displays. And I can get over them. What I'm not totally happy about are the icons. I don't mind that they went 'flat' but I feel like perhaps in changing things up they went a bit too far and are inconsistent. Gradients were reduced but I'd rather see them totally gone. And they changed up icons that I feel like didn't really need changing (aside from the gradient issue). Plus some of them like Settings and Game Center are in my opinion, ugly. A simple cog would be fine for Settings as would be a 4 square checkerboard or perhaps a chess piece on a solid background. And both would better convey what they are. I like the change to Newsstand's icon but I think no more than 3 'magazines' would look better.

I question the change in some of the internal icons like in Safari. To me there was no reason to change up things like the 'action' icon (also known as the share sheets) and I feel like the new one is going to be more confusing to updating users. Which goes against Apple's intuitive, simple etc talk to a degree. It feels more like change for changes sake.

I like the use of blurred layers. I think that that is a great way to visually overlay information. However I haven't found a practical reason for this whole parallax, pano wallpapers etc. The suggestion seems to be to create a 3d effect etc but how is that really useful. Or is 3d the new skeuomorphism. To me it seems like yes and I'm not real happy with that notion. It's like they felt they had to put in something flashy so it wouldn't be 'too flat'.

But I'm definitely happy with the limitless folders, although I think a small border around them would make them pop off the wallpapers better. Nothing fancy just a few pixels of black to get an edge.

Multitouch gestures

I'm in. I love the use of more thumb swipes. And how they are consistent. I hope that this idea of one method carries over to things like editing and deleting. It really annoyed me that in some apps you would delete by hitting edit and others you just swiped from the side. One or the other folks. There's been no mention so far but my gut says I won't be disappointed on this point.

Changes inside apps

I like the new Camera UI so far. I think the swipe method is great. I am impartial on those filters as I rarely use them but I am glad to see that they can be applied before or after. Although I do wish if you used one it would give you the option to save a duplicate rather than over the original. Actually I would want that for all edits.

And in the Photos app I like this 'Moments' notion although I rather wish they had used the Events nomenclature instead. Mind you this could be a preview of a change to the Mac OS version (which was not talked about). No mention was made of albums and album syncing but I remain hopeful. I am also hopeful that,  if not now,  soon you'll be able to label your Moments. So instead of 'Home' it could say Jaye's Birthday Party and so on.  I also like that you can share streams in the sense that others can add photos to streams you are sharing with them and the new UI for viewing them. Plus I like that videos are an option. My guess is that they still don't sync via your personal Photo Stream and there may be a size limit on them. One negative that I noticed was no more Places tab.

iTunes in the Cloud for all media was on my wishlist for returning readers can guess that I'm over the moon to see that. I'm not so keen on the way albums are handled with this turn to the side business but I can get over that as I rarely use album view outside of the occasional broadway soundtrack. What I didn't hear that I was hoping for was a mention of streaming video like you can on the computer.

iTunes Radio. Okay everyone is aware that I was huge fan. So no surprise that I'm happy to see more of those lost features being returned to iTunes. Really the only thing not restored at this point is the following users that they tried to bring back with Ping. I really think that they should bring those back along with totally open artist follows (open in the sense of all artists not just ones on labels) at least to find out when they have a new release. Let us see users playlists, top rateds, iTunes Store playlists, reviews. I still think there's a place for such things as an iTunes Social. Include actors, writers, directors, even follow studios for new releases.

I like the new Safari tabs look and putting the iCloud tabs in that view and not the bookmarks (makes way more sense to me). I love the single input smart field and how the two toolbars recede for a full screen mode. Plus the display of hits is great in how it's also unified and includes your bookmarks. Looks really awesome.

Lots of changes to the Calendar on both systems. One thing I noticed right off during the iOS demo was no more of the dots to show there's an event on a day. That's a boo to me. There should be something I think. I do like the endless scrolling and the zoom. Hopefully all the traffic, location etc features demo'd with Mavericks are in the iOS version.

Those Widget Apps (Weather, Stocks, Compass, Calculator, Clocks) are a grey one for me. I still maintain that we don't need them included any more and wish they were gone. But I do like most of the changes to the Weather app. Not the animations which I think are just unneeded fluff but the new scrolling tabs view makes more sense to me. And I like that the world times are in there. I suspect the others apps will look basically the same with no more of the floating box.

Game Center was briefly shown but not a lot was said about functions. But I'm not real keen on the Google Plus looking circles on the first screen. I do like the friends list view and the clean no felt appearance and hopefully the other views are similar. It seems like most of the improvements with Game Center are for the developers and perhaps this will encourage them to use it and not other systems like Facebook etc.

Some overall function bits

Control Center. This is a meh for the most part to me because I was never bugged about going to the settings app. But for those that were screaming for it, I am happy for you. However, I am not really fond of how it is being handled. At least not based on the scant info we have right now. Being included on the lock screen is not something I'm keen about. Hopefully there is a control for that or if you have a passcode you have to enter it first. And it seems that this could override one of the awesome gestures for the iPad, or at least get confused with it. Plus I don't see why it could be a part of that task bar. There were almost controls in that left swipe, not just just work off that. To me that would make more sense. And while I'm talking about the App Switcher, I'm not won over by it completely. I like the whole gesture to turn off an app (discovered by several sites with the beta installed) but I feel like the previews are a bit of overkill. Especially if you are going to include both the icon and the view. I feel like one or the other is fine.

Notification Center has the same blur which I like. I also like the 'Today' tab for reminders/calendar. Like with Control Center, these are on the lock screen so I hope there's a way to block this as wanted.

There always has to be one thing that is for the newer hardware only and Airdrop is the winner this time. It's restricted the iPhone 5, iPad 4, iPad Mini and Ipod Touch 5. But I admit it is rather cool. I like that you can drop to several folks at once unlike apps like Bump that are limited to single user connections. And it's not just photos but anything that has a 'share sheet' so you can drop contact cards, iWork documents etc. Presumably this is also an API for third party apps. If not then with luck it will be in the future.

Siri has the same blur background which I really like. I also like the waveform which makes it easier to tell that you're being heard. And the new more natural voices are great. Plus there's lots of new commands. Plus Twitters, Bing and Wikipedia have been added to add more results than just what's in the Wolfram Alpha database. I'm not totally sold on this idea as I think perhaps a new system that aggregates  results from a couple of search engines etc might be better but as a step toward something in that direction I'm glad to see the change.

There was also lots of talk about under the hood changes for performance which will hopefully exclude any of the bugs like that hideous wifi oops from the launch of iOS 6.

Overall I'm excited and I can wait to see these new softwares. And although I didn't go into details about it, can I just say that that new Mac Pro is kind of sexy.

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