Everyone on the planet has covered Apple's WWDC conference keynote in some form or another, and with so much information available from Apple's own website on the event and their new products, the angle for today's report is a simple one. I chose to point out a few key moments that stood out for me and so many others; moments that everyone will be able to refer back to in a flash to include in a report, an email to friends and colleagues or just to banter around on the weekend over drinks. It was great to see Apple come out swinging and even a little testy at one moment but it was all in good fun. This was Apple's first big event of the year and we all know it was only the warm up for the really big events that will be unfolding later this year. For now, a quick look back.
Designing Something Original Takes Focus
Apple's opening salvo at Monday's World Wide Developer Conference came by way of a quiet, simple, black and white video message. Although the heart of the conference was about a peek at Apple's iOS 7 and their next wave of features for OS X, the video was oddly about the need for patience regarding next generation hardware. Was it meant to silence those who were fully expecting Apple to introduce new iPhones at this event? I don't know, but the very end of the video clarified their message was in fact about hardware. Here's the video's message:
If everyone … is busy making everything, how can anybody perfect anything?
We start to confuse convenience with joy, abundance with choice.
Designing something requires … focus.
The first thing we ask is what do we want people to feel?
Delight ... surprise … love …connection.
Then we begin to craft around our intention.
It takes time.
There a thousand no's for every yes.
We simplify, we perfect …we start over, until everything we touch enhances each life it touches.
Only then do we sign our work, "Designed by Apple in California"
Phil Schiller's 'Bad Ass' Moment
From a philosophical note to one of surprise through to laughter, Apple had it all on Monday. One of my favorite moments came about halfway through the event by Phil Schiller, Apple's VP Worldwide Marketing. Someone should give Phil a big stick and put him in the next "Walking Tall" movie because Phil delivered his best "bad ass" moment to date. Below captures some of that moment:
"Video editors, musicians, photographers, Graphic designers count on products like the Mac Pro to get their work done. And our most advanced users just want to get their hands on the fastest, most expandable Mac we make. The Mac Pro is really important to delivering on that.
We didn't just want to make another version of the same old desktop idea that's everyone's had. Like the MacBook Air our engineering team have spent quite a bit of time thinking about technology of today and what could be possible for the future of a pro desktop. What would be a new form factor? … a new design? … new capabilities for another ten years.
Our engineering team have come up with something truly revolutionary; truly radical. And this product is so cool … well I'm going to go a little over-the-top and it give it a grand introduction unlike any introduction that we've ever had for a product. So I am really pleased to give you, our closest friends, the first glimpse of the generation of Mac Pro."
After the video, Bad Ass Phil blurted out: "Can't innovate anymore, my ass! And the crowd lapped it up and gave him the loudest round of applause of the event. He ended that segment with, "This is a machine unlike anything we've ever made both inside and out." Schiller confirmed that the new Mac Pro will use Xeon processors again as we reported back in May.
One last note of interest here was Phil stating that the new Mac Pro (Apple's very own Space Pod) would support next generation 4K displays from third parties. Okay, do I laugh or moan with that news? Apple is going to release the most futuristic power tower on the planet but fall short and not introduce a gorgeous Cinema Display 4K to finish off this killer system? Didn't they just preach that design takes focus? Well, without a 4K display they'll appear to be quite unfocused. And so I don't think they'll contradict their own message. Stay tuned.
Jony Ive Dreams of Order on so Many Levels
The next shiny moment for me was of course watching the Jony Ive video introducing the beginning of a new era for iOS 7. Here's what Jony had to say:
"We've always thought of design as so much more than the way something looks.
It's the whole thing. The way something actually works on so many different levels.
Ultimately of course design defines so much of our experience.
I think there is a profound and enduring beauty in simplicity; in Clarity; in efficiency.
True simplicity is derived from so much more than the just the absence of clutter and ornamentation. It's about bringing order to complexity – iOS 7 is a clear representation of these goals.
It has a whole new structure that is coherent and it is applied across the entire system.
We've considered the tiniest details, like refining the topography to much larger ones.
Like redesigning all the icons and developing a grid system allowed us to achieve a much more harmonious relationship between individual elements. We've also incorporated a whole new pallet of colors.
Distinct functional layers help establish hierarchy and order. And the use of translucency gives you, a sense of your context. These planes, combined with new approaches to animation and motion, create a sense of depth and vitality.
The iPhone, responding to your movements, drives the parallax to create a whole new experience of that (see Apple's patent on this feature).
In many ways, we've tried to create an interface that is unobtrusive and deferential.
One way the design recedes and in doing so, actually elevates your content. Even the simple act like changing your wallpaper has a very noticeable effect on the way your iPhone looks and feels across the entire system.
While iOS 7 is completely new, it was important to us to make it instantly familiar. We wanted to take an experience that people know very well and actually ad to it; to make it more useful; to make it more enjoyable.
To create it we brought together a broad range of expertise from design to engineering. With what we've been able to achieve together, we see iOS 7 as defining an important new direction, and in many ways, a beginning.
The new iOS 7 is definitely a cleaner, sharper and brighter design with some very creative new features that we'll all appreciate owning later this year. My only wish going forward is to see Ive's team come up with some new and creative thinking about how their fans could customize their home screens without the clutter of icons.
At the end of the day I asked the question back in March, well before there were any leaks about the new flatter design, was it time for the iOS to undergo a facelift? Well, Apple's industrial design and engineering teams answered that question by pulling off a remarkable feat in just six short months' time since Forstall's departure. We could only imagine where Apple's iOS will go in the coming years with both teams firing on all cylinders.
Federighi's Knockout Punch: AirDrop
My next favorite moment was one that all Apple fans loved to see unfold, I'm sure. Yes, it was time to laugh at Samsung, big time! For the last year Samsung has been playing up a feature, especially in their ads, about sharing photos with friends taking a mere tap of their devices. Well, Apple delivered their response to that solution and it was done intelligently and with flare.
Federighi: "Airdrop is absolutely the easiest way to share with the people right around you. So now when you're in any app that supports a share sheet, you bring up the share sheet and your friends all around you just show up right there. You tap on one and they're going to get a panel right on their display and can accept what it is you shared (see "1 Photo Selected" in graphic). If they accept it they're taken right into the app.
Federighi added that "If you want to share with multiple people, you just tap, tap, tap (tapping on the photos of your friends in iOS 7 using AirDrop). No need to wander around the room bumping your phone with others (to great laughter)."
For the record, Federighi's jab at Samsung's silly tapping feature received the biggest round of laughter at WWDC as noted below.
Federighi continued for a moment more stating that "It uses Peer-to-Peer Wi-Fi for maximum speed. And all transmissions are securely encrypted because it uses the latest Wi-Fi hardware. It'll support the iPhone 5, iPad (4th generation), iPad mini and iPod touch (5th generation). And that is AirDrop."
Apple has two patents on record regarding the use of wireless alternatives to NFC. The first one was recently granted to Apple which discusses simplified wireless data transfers while the second one describes another non-NFC wireless technology that utilizes a unique magnetic compass to establish connections with other devices in close proximity to a user.
The former is most interesting because it demonstrates the use of tapping in the same manner that all of Apple's iWallet patents do. That's enlightening because if Federighi's WWDC demonstration is any indication, then "tapping" will be associated with you're the touchscreen of your iPhone and not physically to another device be it at a retailer, interacting with an ATM Machine or paying for a subway fare.
Eddy on Cue with Siri in the Car
The last segment of the keynote that stuck my fancy was Eddy Cue's presentation about "iOS in the Car" and more specifically "eyes-free Siri" in the Car. Cue stated that "Here, Siri can be used to call up your music. Siri will be used in iOS for iTunes Radio and will be used for Siri in the Car in late 2014." That's calendar 2014 and not the next generation of cars called 2014 models that will come out this summer.
Apple has had their eye on getting iOS into an "in-vehicle system" since 2009 and finally we see this patent coming to life in Eddy Cue's keynote segment.
Apple is prioritizing Siri with music for the car because it's so important to get that project right. Once Siri is working in your car with iTunes Radio, it'll be an easy leap to Siri coming to iTunes on your Mac with or without iTunes Radio.
Lastly, Eddy Cue brushed over it quickly, but iTunes Radio will be free based on an ad subsidy system if you're not a Music Match customer who will get the music service ad-free. A recent Apple patent discussed subsidized radio and TV services via ads and you could read about that here. Apple began working on various patents regarding cloud based music services, especially for the car, and for that you could read this report.
For now, being able to look forward to eyes-free Siri services in our next vehicles is going to be a blast while being another safe move for drivers.
Apple's iOS 7's Iconic Shift
To close out our report I wanted to provide you with an easy reference list of the new iOS 7 icons as noted below along with a collage of the new Berlin Apple Store Opening day that Apple's CEO Tim Cook presented at the beginning of his keynote.
At the end of the day, every key executive making a presentation on Monday had their own special moments and characteristics that made their individual WWDC keynote segments enjoyable ones to watch in the big picture. Ive's was classically philosophical and Federighi brought out his sense of humor that was so refreshing on so many levels. But for me, it was Bad Ass Schiller who hit the home run. I appreciate a feisty competitor and he certainly delivered by slamming mainstream critics that are at times clueless. At the end of the day it was a great show and I can't wait for those hardware events later this year.
To the Crazy Ones in Cupertino: Thanks for a great show and the hard work that you're putting into each of your products that make them so much fun to use.
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