Tag Archives: WWDC

Obligatory 2018 WWDC Post


It’s been a couple weeks and I’ve been reading to posts and listening to podcasts from the nerd herd. A few thoughts on the announcements by Apple as well as some of the reactions in the community. It was widely rumored that this year would see a focus on optimization rather than new features. It seems we’re getting both but perhaps more emphasis on optimization. This was expected and many folks thought it best. There have been a lot of complaints about some of the changes introduced with iOS 11. I’ve largely been happy with those changes but some were not. But it seems that with iOS 12, this year, more than any in recent memory, people are actually satisfied. At least for now. The complaints will come once the honeymoon is over.


Though I use my Mac less and less, I’m happy to see Apple affirm that it is committed to the Mac. Not that I had any doubts but I’m weary of hearing the complaint of the past 2 years that Apple does not care about it’s Mac users and even that it might not be committed to the long term future of the Mac. It’s just silly. For the moment, at least, the Mac oriented crowd seem mostly satisfied.

iOS 12

iOS 12 Preview – Features – Apple

As predicted by many, a focus on optimization which is, of course, always welcomed. But, also, some new features as we might also expect. Nothing like last year’s amazing addition of iPad features but some nice additions. Early reports by beta users confirm that the optimization, especially on older devices is significant and that the speed increase is very noticeable. This is great news not just for users on older devices (many in my family still user older iPads and iPhones) but also a show by Apple that while they do want to sell new devices they also understand the value of maximizing the time that devices can continue to be useful. This is not only good for users but for the environment.

One thing I think nerds often forget is that the “norms” aren’t so obsessed with operating systems and new hardware. They just want devices that they understand how to use and which they can depend on. Based on my observations, the new and flashy is often just added financial cost and mental energy they have to expend figuring out why their devices are behaving differently. This seems especially true with older folks or at least the older folks I interact with. It seems just as people are getting comfortable with new features and changes the os changes again and trips them up.


I’ve written before about my hope for a proactive Siri. In short, I was hoping for the ability to configure “Siri Scenes” which might be integrated with a more powerful Home app. With Shortcuts we might be getting that or parts of it.

Shortcuts App and App Shortcuts

Everyone seems happy and excited about the transformation of Workflow into Shortcuts app. In addition to the new app, App developers will now be able to offer simple shortcuts to users, increasing discoverability and at the same time allowing the user to customize the Siri-based activation with their own phrase. This will be big. Not sure how many “normal” users will use it but it appears Apple has done a great job in making it easy to take the first step. I suppose App Shortcuts with the ability to assign a custom phrase is the Apple equivalent to Alexa’s skills with a key difference being that these are based on the device rather than the cloud. And Apple’s solution seems to easier for average users. It also gives them the added opportunity to take the next step to begin using the Shortcuts app to begin assembling even more powerful actions.

The Shortcuts app is Workflow with deeper system integration, namely Siri and Homekit. It appears that older Workflows will, for the most part, continue to work. That’s great news for those that have invested a lot of time into development of of these kinds of systems. One such person is Federico Viticci who has, of course, already written quite a bit about the new Shortcuts.

Based on what I’ve read it appears I’ll get at least part of what I was hoping for when I wrote about the above mentioned “Siri scenes” in that I’ll be able to set-up a workflow that includes Home scenes. My ideal morning routine would be an automation beginning at a predetermined time. A light would come on at 10% brightness. Then a little bit later that light goes to 40%. Then my HomePod chimes with an alarm as my coffee maker kicks on with yet another light. Then Siri would read me the weather and any calendar events. Last, she would ask if I wanted some music or a podcast. Or, perhaps just play music or a podcast.

Some of this is already possible with Home scenes set to a schedule. But while the new Shortcuts app can call on the Home app the Home app cannot, in reverse, be scheduled to open a Shortcut which is what I was hoping for. This kind of scheduled Shortcut would give the appearance of a proactive Siri at normal or specified bedtime and wake-up times. If I’m correct that the new Shortcuts cannot be scheduled for a time I’ll settle for a mix of automated and voice initiated actions which previously would be limited to scenes in Home. It’s still a step forward.

Oh, the horror of having to actually do something myself. Will I be able to muster the strength and courage to croak out a few words to Siri?


This has been a part of Siri for awhile though I’ve not found it all that useful. Maybe it will be improved enough that I’ll make use of it. Every morning I walk the dogs and do an “outdoor walk” workout on the Apple Watch. I start that using Siri then I pick music or a podcast to listen to. Everyday. I’d guess that Siri will suggest music or a podcast as well as starting an outdoor walk. That’s fine but I don’t think it will help much. I’m hoping to be surprised.


Certain things mentioned regarding updates to Siri’s knowledge are things I’ve already noticed are present. They don’t seem like new features. That’s not a problem and I guess it’s possible that Apple has just added some new things under the hood. Regardless, I’ve found Siri’s knowledge base to often be very helpful and from what I’ve read, it seems that Siri already does far more than most people realize. I suspect, many haven’t used it that much and this is Apple’s chance to draw attention to it.


Photos is getting smarter with more Siri-powered searching and when combined with Messages, we will have an enhanced, smarter flow for sharing via event and face recognition. A welcome addition. Also, the improved import process looks very nice!


Some really nice improvements here. Group calls now supported with up to a ridiculous 32 participants! Audio FaceTime calls can now be made with HomePod or AppleWatch. It’s now integrated with Messages. New effects too, most notably: Animoji, filters, text effects, shapes, sticker packs. Basically, it looks as though they’ve spiced it up with a bit of flavoring from their Clips app.


Speaking of Messages and Animoji, well, of course there is Memoji and new Animoji, longer Animoji and more effect and filters. Also, as mentioned above, tighter integration with the Photos app.

Screentime, Notifications and Do Not Disturb

I’m not going to say much other than I’m glad they’re adding these features. I’m sure most of us will be horrified at how much time we spend looking at screens. Do Not Disturb is getting some useful refinement. That said I leave Do Not Disturb on 24/7 due to the number of spam calls I get. I wish Apple offered a general option to only accept calls from contacts. Then I could use Do Not Disturb for other things. As it is, I have to use it to filter all my calls all the time.


Nice that various apps are making their way from being iPhone only to the iPad. I use Apple News a lot and am looking forward to the new sidebar.

New iPad Gestures

Shrug. Glad that this will match up with the iPhone X. Not happy about the control panel being by itself and accessed via a pull down from the top right. I’d rather it stay where it is in the Multitasking view.

There’s more but I’ve just hit on a few of the things that stood out the most. The page at the top links to Apple’s more complete list.

Pre-WWDC Apple Nerdery

Wow. So much going on in the run-up to WWDC. As most have said, it looks to be a big one with likely hardware announcements. Apple seems to be releasing bits of news this week that would normally have been in the keynote prompting many to suggest that they are making way for a jam-packed presentation.

I’m not an educator but if I were I’d be very excited about what Apple is doing with Swift Playgrounds. The next update, due Monday, expands coding education to robots, drones and musical instruments :

Apple is working with leading device makers to make it easy to connect to Bluetooth-enabled robots within the Swift Playgrounds app, allowing kids to program and control popular devices, including LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3, the Sphero SPRK+, Parrot drones and more.

That’s going to be a lot of fun. On the topic of Swift, Fraser Speirs has an excellent post about teaching Swift over the past year.

I’m looking forward to new iPads being announced and hopefully the long rumored and hoped for “Siri Speaker”. And of course all of us iPad nerds are hoping for big iPad features with iOS 11. We never know until Apple announces it but I have a feeling (as do many others) that we’re going to see some great stuff Monday!

WWDC 2016

It’s that time of the year when Apple nerds gather in a big herd in San Francisco for Apple’s WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference.) There is, of course, the other big event in the fall when Apple announces/releases the new iPhone and the new operating systems. But June is centered on app development and it’s where the coverings come off of the details of the new operating systems: watchOS, tvOS, iOS and now, the newly renamed macOS.

I’m not going to deep dive the various platform changes as plenty of others have done that, here’s the MacStories Overview and Walt Mossberg’s Unpacking. Rene Ritchie has a great overview of the whole week: WWDC 2016: Beyond the Keynote.

As usual, there were a great many expectations (and hopes) in the Apple and larger tech community. Some of them realistic, some of them not so much. This year there was much rending of clothing and gnashing of teeth about Siri and how far Apple has supposedly fallen behind Google and Amazon. The expectation being that Apple would bring forth major improvements to Siri, putting itself back on level ground with it’s competitors.

Of course Apple did announce improvements but as it often goes, the improvements are iterative. Siri will be opened up to the developers of apps in a few categories only. The intelligence of Siri will be improved but within the privacy goals previously set by Apple. They will rely on in-device processing as well as something called “Differential Privacy” which is very selective processing by Apple of your data but only in aggregate (with other users) and with injected random noise. The idea here is that they learn about the collective base of users but each individual user’s data remain’s private. Whether the results will be up to the expectations of users remains to be seen. Google collects far more data. Amazon is a bit more open and aggressive.

Along the lines of a more powerful Siri many hoped for the announcement of a new Siri-powered Apple device that would compete with Amazon’s Echo and the devices announced by Google. No such announcements were forthcoming. The closest Apple came was in announcing a new app called Home as well as the Siri improvements. For now the current lineup of Siri enabled devices will be Apple’s offering with the AppleTV and iPad (plugged in) serving as Home-kit hubs.

I’ve been a bit disappointed with the 4th gen AppleTV. I’d been looking forward to Siri searching my content but alas Siri doesn’t search Homesharing content nor has it been announced for the next version of tvOS. But the new remote app will be a welcome addition and no doubt the other improvements will be welcomed by many. I’ve found that the Plex app is far more useful than Apple’s Homesharing interface which seems clumsy by comparison.

I was a bit disappointed that there were not more iPad related improvements to iOS. It’s possible that there will be some improvements that were not highlighted in the opening presentation or in the week afterward. In time more of the hoped for changes will come. Of course Federico Viticci had some thoughts on this.

AppleMusic and News are both going to look a lot nicer. Photos is getting some great improvements and Messages was obviously a focus and is benefiting more than any other app. I use Messages a lot and am looking forward to enjoying the new features. Notes is getting collaboration which will come in handy for folks that need that feature. Split screen Safari might be handy.

macOS Sierra is getting some nice improvements. Most notably, Siri which will be able to handle local file searches, image searches on the web and much more. Some of those searches will be pinnable or saved for later use. Other notables: tabbed interface for many apps, ApplePay, Picture in Picture, iCloud Drive sync for your Documents and Desktop folders, Universal Clipboard, and Auto Unlock.

Katie Notopoulos writing for BuzzFeed
The End of the Apple Man

But the effervescent demo of Apple Music by the charismatic Bozoma Saint John — a black woman who looked and acted nothing like the typical Apple Men onstage before her and who in her opening remarks mentioned being a mother — felt like a breath of fresh air signaling that perhaps the winds are changing. There were other signals too. In the video segment cheering on developers using Apple’s Swift programming language, the video ended with a black woman joyfully expounding how awesome coding was — certainly not the stereotype of a coder, and not totally reflective of the crowd there watching the video. At another Apple event in March, another black female Apple executive, Lisa Jackson, took the stage to talk about Apple’s environmental efforts.

Breaking the Apple Man stereotype in the people who appear on stage as the Apple’s evangelists is symbolic. Having a black woman present on stage might just mean the company is more aware of the optics of its events.

I’ll end with one of the highlights of the keynote and that was Apple’s announcement of Swift Playground which is a part of their efforts to encourage coding:Everyone Can Code. Many were hoping for full-on app development on the iPad, this is not it but it is a great start. I expect many kids will get their start coding via Swift Playground and many adults too. Very exciting.