Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference is underway in San Francisco, kicked off Monday morning with a lengthy– almost two and a half hours– keynote address that seemed to contain everything but Apple TV and a HomeKit connected kitchen sink.
I watched the event live on Apple TV and then skimmed through the keynote again later in the evening. Tim Cook was as relaxed and comfortable as ever, fully in charge of the technology giant he helped to create. Steve Jobs shadow was not on stage Monday, but a couple of Apple executives of the female persuasion were. That’s a good sign. So, was the ‘One more thing…’ that Cook brought to the keynote near the end of the show. More on that in a moment.
As much as CEO Tim Cook was in charge, OS chieftain Craig Federighi was affable and friendly. He introduced OS X El Capitan, a good name to describe a more focused Yosemite. Federighi displayed constraint and discipline while showing off a few user friendly features in OS X and iOS. Still no Siri on the Mac, but the split-screen options for iOS might sell a few more iPads.
As is often the case at developer conferences, Apple laid the groundwork to kill a few third party products, dent the competition, and change the game in its favor. For example, Apple Music is a grab bag of entertainment features that may lessen trips to iTunes, offers a way for indie musicians to find an audience, lets you download and store music subscription songs to your device, and did everything it could to keep customer corralled into Apple’s ecosystem.
For example, one of my favorite news applications for iPhone and iPad is Flipboard, but Apple’s News app could easily eliminate that free option. Passbook is gone and good riddance, now replaced by Wallet which is beginning to show itself as a digital heir to what you carry around all day. In addition to Apple Music for Android, Apple also has a Move to IOS app that makes it drop dead easy for Android customers to get onto Apple’s eco-bandwagon with little effort– it copies over files and installs them onto an iPhone or iPad, then finds the apps that match from the iTunes App Store.
Apple has been playing catch up to Google Maps, despite being used the majority of the time on iOS devices. The iOS 9 version will bring near parity with Google’s constantly updated Maps app. I pity the folks at SoundCloud and Spotify. Apple won’t stream free music (there’s no indication that free music is a business model with legs; an issue which should concern Spotify and Pandora executives), but the Music platform is a good place for independent musicians to gain a very large audience– the 800-million iTunes account owners– at the expense of SoundCloud.
For those who worry that Apple is playing catch up and following Google and Samsung’s innovative features, please note that copying is rampant from every direction in the tech industry, and where Apple does best is not as the industry-leading, first mover, but as the second-mover. Apple does a better job of pulling features together and making them work better than either Google or Samsung.
Deeper integration for Siri into iOS has been expected. Watch gets native applications, announced just six weeks after Watch began shipping (it took the iPhone over a year to get native apps). I was impressed with how smoothly the keynote went up to ‘One more thing…’ when Music took over. Jimmy Iovine needs to practice presentations or get a reading coach.
The missing link to the keynote was Apple TV, so it’s obvious Apple hasn’t pulled together all the strings needed to break into the cable TV business.