Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) was about what we expected—and it took two hours to get there.
The tech giant (AAPL) kicked off its annual keynote for developers on Monday. The opening keynote was jam-packed with software, ranging from the company’s new watchOS 3 for Apple Watch to the newly named macOS for Macs. Apple also chatted about improvements to tvOS for Apple TV, and forced us to sit through a far-too-long discussion on 10 improvements to iOS 10.
Admittedly, the show was what we had anticipated. Rumors had been flying for months that Apple would only focus on software at the show and deliver features that, frankly, it should’ve already offered in previous versions of its software and users have already been enjoying across other operating systems and third-party apps, like WhatsApp, for years.
But there were also notable omissions from the event. Despite some earlier rumors that perhaps Apple would unveil a new display at the show, there wasn’t a single piece of hardware to be found. Save for some demos of its new operating systems on its existing hardware, one would be forgiven if he or she didn’t think Apple had forgotten about hardware altogether.
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Speaking of forgetting hardware, what happened to the iPad? Apple conspicuously talked about all of the features we’ll be able to enjoy in iOS 10 on the iPhone, but acted as though the iPad doesn’t exist, despite iOS 10 supporting the tablets. Of course, that might have something to do with Apple’s troubled iPad division and the declining tablet market as a whole, but there are still some app experiences that are best on the iPad. And Apple didn’t talk about them.
Interestingly, Apple also nixed third-party developer demos at the event. In years past, Apple has forced us to sit through countless demos, showcasing how third-party apps take advantages of improvements inside its new operating systems. That didn’t happen this year. Instead, Apple used its two-hour-long presentation to showcase updates to its own software, including Apple Music, News, and Messages.
Thankfully, Apple also embraced diversity at WWDC.
Not so long ago, it wasn’t uncommon for Apple events (and indeed, most industry events from any company) to be led and overwhelmingly presented by white males. At WWDC 2016, Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked things off, and he quickly turned the stage over to a diverse group of people who have helped improve his company’s software. In an industry that is desperately in need of more diversity, it was nice to see Apple—arguably its leader—putting its best foot forward and promoting diversity at its annual showcase.
Perhaps the most unfortunate omission during Apple’s keynote address came during its talk about Messages. While the messaging application has received several upgrades, including support for stickers and third-party apps, Apple didn’t announce the one feature users had hoped for: Android support. Instead, Apple stuck to its guns and continued to say that Messages would work across its own operating systems without mentioning Android at all.
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That said, it’s possible that might change in the future. The new Messages goes a long way in competing against popular apps like WhatsApp and Facebook (FB) Messenger. Apple might have set the stage for it to deliver Messages to other operating systems at some point in the future.
Overall, WWDC was a rather boring affair that lacked the simplicity that Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs had long loved. But then again, Apple’s event wasn’t designed for the average consumer, but rather the developer who wants to know more about the features he or she will be able to interact with in future app iterations.
So, while it would’ve been nice to have seen new hardware, some new Macs, or even talk of iCloud encryption, all of that will need to wait for another day.
This week, as Apple made abundantly clear at WWDC, is all about software.