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Apple Keynote Live(ish) Blog

Nick JohnsonNick Johnson

Since I've never liveblogged anything before, I decided to give it a go with today's Apple WWDC keynote. The follow was written as I watched it. It has been edited for spelling and grammar (and to add a couple of links) but not for content. It might get edited for spelling again when I'm more awake.

We start with a nice tribute to the victims of Orlando. Short but heartfelt.

Next the usually positive stats. There are a lot of Apple platform developers now. Apple is investing more in new developers, especially those of the next generation, be that in terms of age or market.

2,000,000 million apps on the app store now, which explains why it's so hard to find anything. Best business opportunity for developers... which might be a low bar at this point.

Nice things about Apple's platforms, of which there are four. Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Counting is hard. Only kidding, I know iPhone and iPad go together here.

watchOS goes first. Didn't expect that. Let's see if they can convince me not to switch to an analogue watch. It's getting faster, apparently. Observably faster, anyway. There's no way this doesn't reduce battery life. Oh thank god, a useful app chooser. Up swipe is for control centre now... but what about glances?

You can "scribble" to reply to messages, which is actually pretty cool if it works well. Activity watch face looks pretty good. More clear than the activity complication.

...and now an awkwardly earnest but solid demo of the above. It looks like a solid improvement... but I'm probably still going analogue. Well... mostly analogue. It's still chunky and I don't see the battery life getting better.

Really pushing for the Chinese market here. And also pushing activity functionality. Now you can be competitive! Not a bad idea. It worked pretty well for Fitbit. Also fitness functionality for wheelchair users. Its looks pretty solid. That's a nice touch. Now also with guided deep breathing. Looks like a gateway drug for basic meditation.

And with some new APIs (SceneKit? Really? Did I mention battery life yet?) we're done.

And now: tvOS. Let's have some stats and some shiny new apps. Looks like the major use case is video. Shock.

They're making the remote app more like the physical remote. So you can still use Siri when you lose the remote.

Better Siri search. Can't complain about that. It's actually pretty solid already. Ah! Extended Siri search with other apps. That's really nice.

Single sign on. Oh thank god. So much pain signing in to AppleTV apps. More new APIs and we're done. Seems like tvOS was the "also ran" this year.

Oh my God they're changing the name of OSX to macOS! I did not see that coming! cough

Obviously that wasn't actually a surprise, but it is really sensible. macOS Sierra sounds way less ridiculous that El Capitan. I have no idea what location it refers to, though.

Auto-unlock with Apple Watch. Damn it, Apple, just when I think I'm out you pull me back in! That's a tempting feature. Universal clipboard is exactly what it sounds like... and something I've wanted for years. iCloud Drive gets a shared desktop. Neat... unless you also sign in to iCloud at work. Old files will shift to the cloud, BitCasa style. Again: neat. My MacBook One could definitely use more space.

Apple Pay on the web, with touchID authentication. Apple seriously knocked it out of the park with Apple Pay. Looks like they're not getting lazy, either.

All multi-window apps get tab support automatically. Slick. Same with the new picture in picture mode. Siri on the mac. Again, not a surprise. Looks like it's keeping the attitude. Could actually be pretty useful if you're not in a public place.

Hair Force One is giving the usual solid demo, and this all looks really solid, but mac updates are just never as exciting at this point. It's already a mature platform.

Now we get to iOS X... I mean iOS 10, with Hair Force One keeping the conn. Auto on lock screen on lift is pretty nice... less accidentally triggering TouchID when you just want to look at your notifications. Notification Centre is looking prettier... and finally we can clear all. Looks like a solid lock screen update. Solid home screen update here as well. App quick look with 3D touch looks nice.

Back to Siri. A Siri API... finally. Side note: I really like this UI update. Back on track: Lots of use cases for this. I wonder if Siri is also getting more reliable. They fail to comment on this.

Better autosuggest with the keyboard. Apparently Siri means anything AI backed now. Intelligent Scheduling and Calendar Availability sound interesting (and make me nervous, speaking as a Google Calendar for iOS developer).

Deep learning with photos... on the device. That's very Apple. Looks like they're claiming Google Photos like functionality here, but on device rather than on the server. Compete with "magic" video generation.

Lot's stuttering and tripping up this year. They seem less practiced.

Maps. This looks like very Google Now type functionality in Apple Maps. Local search results, too. That's a slightly awkward UI on the category chooser. Looks like search along route and live traffic is bringing this a lot closer to Google Maps. Again: app extensions. Third party functionality in maps. That's actually better than the Google Maps equivalent. Pretty impressive.

Apple Music gets a redesign, which it really needed. Maybe not this one, though. Looks very different to the rest of iOS. Faintly reminds me of Windows Phone (which actually like the design of). Demo synchronised to to music. Didn't see that coming. Now we rap. Which is awkward. Listen on demand for Beats 1 is a nice addition.

News. We're squarely in the "developers probably don't care about this" section of the presentation.

HomeKit. This is looking like a pretty solid ecosystem at this point. Another finally: a "home" app. AppleTV as hub, which has been rumoured for a while. This looks nice, but I probably need an Android portal before I legitimately start using it.

First ever update to Phone app? Man, I really miss visual voicemail (it's not available on 3). Transcriptions might be better, if it works. Lots of third party integrations here.

Messages. Is it going Android? First we get more context with the links. A few camera and emoji things FaceBook Messenger and Hangouts already have. Auto emoji is pretty cute. Bubble effects are also pretty cute. Quite similar to what Google announced with Allo. No Android for now.

This is a really awkward demo. Doesn't need the on stage dialog. Which is a shame because this is a really solid update to messages. Closing a lot of the gap to some of the other messaging apps out there. Did they even mention that you can like individual messages? Apps in messages as well.

Looks like lots of other good features here. New APIs too. Now a word about privacy... which is mostly a shot at Google, I think. Crowdsourced learning, whilst maintaining privacy: "differential privacy", which strong academic backing.

Swift playgrounds. Looks pretty sweet. I was hoping for something a bit more like a full XCode for iPad, but I'll take this as a first step. So far seems very education orientated, specifically for children. Move advanced stuff does seem to be possible, and the coding keyboard looks pretty solid.

Final thoughts: Nothing really earth shaking here, but a lot of solid updates. Definitely looking forward to getting the new macOS (natch) and iOS versions on my devices. The watchOS updates looks like an decent update, but probably not enough to keep me on the platform. tvOS with better search is also nice, I guess.

Next I need to watch the state of the union, which is going to have way more relevance to my day job.

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Nick Johnson

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