Apple did something at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2019 keynote on Monday that it hadn’t done effectively in years: produced a compelling event.
Over two hours on Monday, company executives talked about important updates to Apple’s operating systems that will have a real impact on how people use them. Apple also unveiled a pricey new Mac that, if nothing else, made the desktop computer interesting again, and a new computer monitor with an almost equally wallet-busting price tag.
For the first time since WWDC 2010, when late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone 4, I was actually interested during the entire event. It was a big change from recent years, which have featured laundry lists of minor software updates and enough demos to make the audience drowsy—myself included.
Suffice it to say, WWDC keynotes are usually a waste of time for anyone but developers. But this year was different.
The presentations had cadence and energy. Apple didn’t dwell on unnecessary demos like its upgraded tvOS. It just told us that they’re coming.
Instead, the company focused mostly on the important software updates like its new Sign In button. Executives correctly discussed the button’s privacy features, including a disposable e-mail address and the fact that the service masked personal information from third-party websites.
A few demos went into the weeds, of course, but they showcased very specific upgrades that developers care about. For people who aren’t developers, these deeper dives served as nice coffee breaks.
Although overlooked amid the announcements yesterday, Apple’s decision to use Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controllers with its upcoming Arcade cloud-gaming service was a big deal. It could mean that more game developers will move their most popular titles to Arcade.
In other major news, Apple said on Monday that it would kill iTunes, the once-ubiquitous music service. The reason it gave—that the service had become obsolete—was entirely reasonable. Additionally, Apple unveiled the new iPadOS that will finally allow the iPad to take full advantage of its big screen and let users be more productive because they can use the additional real estate on their screens.
But it was probably Apple’s deep dive into professional computers and monitors that elevated this year’s keynote beyond past ones.
For years, professionals have clamored for a new high-powered Mac Pro, and Apple finally delivered it. The computer is big, its aluminum design gives it a premium feel, and its computing power may be unmatched for its price. But like previous Apple products, at a $6,000 starting price, it isn’t cheap. And chances are, if you get all of its upgrades, you may need to take out a second mortgage to afford it.
Apple’s Pro Display XDR monitor was a surprising announcement. Apple had all but given up on selling monitors years ago and partnered with LG to supply screens in Apple Stores. But Apple is back with a 6K monitor that has a sleek and streamlined design and, by the sound of it, could even be better than top-of-the-line televisions. The problem is, it’s starting price is $5,000.
This isn’t to say that the Apple WWDC 2019 keynote was flawless like years past, when Jobs would take the stage and excite fans with “one more thing.” Even with flashy new products, Apple’s team sometimes falls flat on generating excitement. And after two hours on stage, the keynote could have been shorter by jettisoning some extraneous details.
But for the first time in a long time, Apple produced a keynote address that lived up to the massive pre-event hype. And perhaps the most surprising part of it all is that it did that with its oldest product—the Mac.
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