7 More Impressions From WWDC2015 Almost Everyone Missed

I have a mystery brewing. Last week I wrote an article 12 Points that the media missed at WWDC2015. An astute reader noted that #5,6,and 7 was missing. Was it a plot by Google to keep these points quiet? No,  I just goofed and somehow deleted them in transferring the article. There was a lot in the WWDC 2015 keynote. Earlier this week, there was also the insane op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal suggesting Apple kill off the Mac, because it needs to focus on core business.

At the reader’s request, I tried to restore the missing points. Between my own take on the WSJ piece and a few things brewing in my head since lat week’s keynote, it ended up more than three. But let’s start with the  missing #5 announcement at WWDC2015 that dovetails the WSJ piece.

#1 One Developer License For All

I actually posted a screen shot of the Apple Developer website on twitter I was so shocked when I found out. Two weeks ago, if you wanted to develop for the Mac you needed a Mac developer’s licence. If you wanted to develop for the iPhone or Apple Watch you needed a iOS developer licence. Both were $99 a piece per developer. For the small developer, this was a steep cost, and most people had only one or the other. — mostly iOS. Apple at WWDC changed that to be one developer license. Developers can make apps for all the platforms.

Apple has a story arc of integrating the platforms. Handoff and airdrop assisted by iCloud let you work seamlessly from one platform to another.  iOS9 and OSX El Capitan  continue that theme of integrating many of the native apps to work together between platforms, especially a heavily modified Notes.  At the same time, WWDC2015 announced that the Apple Watch has it own OS, not just an extension of iOS.

The three platforms each have their own uses.  Apple mentions a time scale to put this into perspective.  A Mac is for working on for hours, a phone and tablet for minutes, and a watch for seconds. While a tablet app like an e-book reader,  games,  or Pages with an external keyboard may break this pattern, the idea is still true. There are some things that work best with a mouse and keyboard, and some that work better on a portable touchscreen.  Most of the objections to the Wall Street Journal piece was this simple argument: some things you can only do on a Mac .

Apple is enticing developers to make integrated solutions, just like their own integrated solutions with hand off or Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Notes, etc.  At WWDC2014  they had session on moving from one platform to the other. This just pushes it farther.  Any app on the iPhone or iPad can have a Mac equivalent doing very Mac-Like things. It’s not too hard to convert from one to the other.  Apple is doing the opposite of killing the Mac: they are making it more relevant for consumers with a richer app environment integrated between platforms.

I saw only one sentence in one post that really describes why the Mac can’t be killed.  The most controlled development environment is Xcode, available  for free, but only for the Mac. The way Xcode works it could only run on  a Mac. There is no way to replace it. Apple seems to be very reluctant to do anything developer  related on the iPad.  Without the Mac, there is no new apps for any environment.

There is one more, very profitable piece of the puzzle.  Apple controls who can put apps on what devices directly through developer’s licenses and Xcode. So, besides development, deployment for legal  mobile devices happens through Xcode at Apple’s blessing, and most likely, profit. Through Xcode developers  publish directly to the App stores for iOS and OSX.  With a few enterprise exceptions, developers are forced to publish only to the app store for iOS.

The Mac is not a  distraction to  the core focus as the Wall Street Journal claims. It is the cornerstone of the entire environment.

#2 Apple News

Apple announced a new news reader at WWDC.  This will allow users to select channels and other methods of finding content they are interested in. Apple was a little reluctant to explain how this really works, giving the razzle-dazzle demo instead.

There are two type of news available on the news reader. Content from a standard  RSS feed and content developed in a yet-to-be revealed Apple Format which allows for animation and other impressive formatting.

What was missed at the WWDC keynote was the profit structure. While your content is supposed to be secure, this is run by iAd. The ad deal seems simple. If a publisher sells an ad, they get 100% of the revenue of the ad. If Apple sells an ad, then Apple gets 30% of the revenue from the ad.

One of most disruptive technologies in the feed reader sector may be one of the oldest. Magazines will support themselves on the ad revenue they always have, just without the expense of a printing press.

If news works with print and photos and limited video content, this content model might work with video as the primary content.  A video version might be in the future, with video content producers or channels getting great rates and access similar or better to that of cable providers.

#3 Apple Pay and Passbook is Now Wallet

Apple Pay continues to expand. One of the more notable  and ignored announcements is the partnering with Square to provide Apple Pay readers for small business.  This expands Apple Pay into every tiny business,  indie coffee shop, art fair, and flea market. That’s a lot of exposure, not to mention the growing list of  of large-scale merchants.

Apple is going on-line with Apple Pay too.  In-App purchases will meet their ultimate goal with apps like Pinterest directly selling to users merchandise posted as content on their site.

Integrating into what Apple Pay does is all your gift cards and loyalty cards.  Since Passbook is changing so much, they renamed it Wallet since it does everything your wallet does.

Apple Pay is one of the best examples of Apple’s strategy of partnering. Steve Job’s Apple was center around the idea that only Apple could do it right. Tim Cook’s Apple says there is a lot of stuff Apple does not do right, indeed shouldn’t. Instead, leave it to those who know what they are doing, just give them the tools to do it. Apple partnered with banks and merchants to make a payment system that works for all the users, banks merchants and customers. Apple Pay keeps growing.  Apple Pay is coming to the United Kingdom this summer, with lots of banks and merchants, including one rather remarkable merchant: the London Public transportation system.

Since every vendor using Apple Pay registers with Apple, they know where the merchants are. The Maps App indicates who has Apple Pay on profiles of stores,  which brings us to:

#4 Maps Improvements

One of the biggest public messes Apple got themselves in was Apple Maps. While the data was poor in the original introduction the removal of public transit data was inexcusable for many urban users.  If Apple Pay was the poster child for partnering, Apple’s belief that the same would be true of public transit apps was a disaster. Users were not very happy about leaving one app to go to another, if an app existed at all, and  getting only one segment of a longer trip.

Apple put back transit in iOS9. While rolling out slowly worldwide, the new transit component of maps is a very integrated route. While showing entire transit lines, the app also  optimizes the door to door route by giving direction within stations, not just which stops to transfer to.

Outside China, maps will initially have transportation information for New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Berlin, London, Mexico City,  Philadelphia, San Francisco, Toronto, and Washington DC. In China there will be transit info for 300 cities.

Interestingly, London is one of the transportation systems in the first release. With Apple Pay for your transit fee, London looks like the test city for full Apple integration of public transit. As many cities like Chicago have gone to RFID systems for transit passes, it will be interesting to see how long until other cities adopt Apple Transit. It may be possible in ten years to go from my home in Chicago, have a Stopover at Heathrow and visit the Victoria and Albert museum, then head on to  dinner in Rome  or Paris all on a single routing on Apple Maps and paying with Apple Pay.

#6 Context Sensitive Search and Siri

Apple continues to integrate their products. Context sensitive search is another one of those cases for integration. Siri now understands and can even predict  what you are doing at any time when you ask this assistant system a question or make a request. “remind me about this later today” or “remind me to take my coffee off the top of my car” now are usable requests. I’m still not sure how it knows you are in your car, but apparently it can.  Siri will save a website for you, or remind you about it in a few hours.

As I’ve noticed with my apple watch, Siri understands a lot more, and dictation is a lot clearer than earlier versions of Siri.

Context does not include only searches. The phone will notice your life patterns and have apps ready for use at the proper time of the day. At 5:30 every morning for example, it will have my Starbuck’s app ready for use, and it would not surprise me to find solitaire ready for me every time I sit down at McDonald’s.

The integration makes getting to the stuff you use faster.  While Apple swears this is information they will not be collecting — indeed they don’t even want, it’s still a little spooky we can be so predictable that our phones know exactly what we want before we do.

 

# 7 The Keyboard

R. Stevens cartoon on iMore caught the number one reason iOS9 beta is already a hit: the keyboard. One of the perennial gripes is the shift key issue. An inverse shift key for capitalization is one of the most dated parts of iOS. In iOS9, the letters on the key caps change from lower to upper when you press the shift key.

The keyboard includes context sensitive icons for commands you might want quickly, such as cut and paste.  Using two fingers together on the iPad’s keyboard turns the keyboard into a track pad, and a lot more accurate way of highlighting text than the tap and drag of previous versions of iOS.

The apple notes app uses the new keyboard to the fullest. Not only can you cut and paste type, but style and add photos from the new toolbar.

Those were the other points I noticed at the WWDC 2015.  Some of it might look like current technology in competing platforms. Jim Collins in his book Good to Great talks about Bullets and Cannonballs as ways companies handle innovation. Bullets are small, inexpensive trials that indicate if you are going to hit anything. Singly they do nothing.  Cannonballs are the big, expensive trials that make a big impact. The great companies, Collins argues shoot bullets until they hit something, then fire the cannonball. WWDC15 was a lot of bullets and few cannonballs. Follow the trail of bullets and you might just see the next big target for the cannon.

 

 

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