Apple’s WWDC 2016: What It All Really Says
Today was what, years ago, used to be one of the most exciting times of the year: Apple’s World Wide Developer Conferece 2016, or WWDC. Years ago, this used to be the event where new hardware would get announced, and new software would also take center stage. It was “must see” streamed video (often through the Quicktime client, whether you were using a Mac or Windows machine), and it was a rather magical thing.
Not to say it was “bad”, there were actually a few things to like about it, but other than some new operating system versions like iOS 10, improvements in WatchOS, and the newly-minted (though I already started using it on Sovryn Tech and on this blog) macOS–no more OS X–announced, with Siri and Swift (the code) getting some new integration and usability…well…there wasn’t really much here to talk about.
That’s sorta what I think is the good thing. The speed at which new devices and new versions of devices are coming has been out of hand for years now. For Apple to not release some new mobile device or mobile hardware iteration at WWDC in 2016 is really a chance to breathe. No doubt there will still be something new come this Fall, but to have such a major event not explicitly sell you something…yeah, that’s a plus. And the refinements they’ve down software-side on their various platforms are welcome. When it comes to software platforms, that’s a sign of much needed maturity and stability. So I’ll give Apple credit there.
SIDE NOTE: Why am I talking about an Apple event at the Dark Android Project? Hey, you gotta keep an eye on the “competition”.
At the same time, however, on the macOS end of devices (again, not mobile), some new hardware was really due. The Mac Pro–Apple’s full dekstop–hasn’t been updated in 3 years! While I like the idea of things lasting a good long while (and Apple’s computers are legendary for how long they can last you), at the same time this says something bothersome to me. Apple doesn’t care about desktop computers, and even if they care about laptops in some way, to quote Alan Kay: “All of your are using ancient technology. We have supercomputers and you’re using ridiculously weak laptops and desktops”. And that’s what bothers me. We can do incredible things with the computing power that exists today, computing power that could be put on your desk, but instead we’re just going smaller, smaller, smaller, and Apple is reinforcing this handicapping of coders and computer enthusiasts today by not offering more powerful machines on a regular basis. And all of this is made much worse since seemingly all “creativity” on computers is supposedly done (if you believe the narrative or take a walk into a Starbucks) on Macs.
Granted, Apple is not required to release supercomputers every year or two, but if Macs are THE (cool) computer to use (which I disagree wholeheartedly…Linux, baby!), and you have your OS locked down and not expandable to (largely) custom hardware, yeah, you’re holding back a lot of advancement, in my opinion. Like Palmer Lucky of Oculus said, “We’d release our Virtual Reality equipment for Mac, if Apple would make a good computer”. And that’s the point. You are absolutely hindered from so many computer advancements when you use a Mac, and Apple still has done nothing to solve it, particularly when they had the opportunity to do so at WWDC. And frankly, unless they release a quantum leap ahead of a computer from what they presently offer, it’s not going to be a computer that’s good enough to take advantage of what’s here and what’s coming in computers.
SIDE NOTE: I’m pleased that Apple has yet to release an “Apple Watch 2”. The smartwatch needs to become a more “timeless” category, in my opinion, than any other digital device. If there isn’t an Apple Watch 2 for a couple more years–unlike my thoughts on desktops–I think that would be a good thing. Not to say they’d wait that long, but kudos for now.
And you can say that Apple waits until they can get these advancements “right”…yeah…maybe, but then it just goes to show that Apple isn’t innovating anymore or creating entirely new markets and categories. It’s a “has been” of a company. Certainly Google’s 2016 I/O event wasn’t innovative either, nor did they technically release any new hardware, either, so it’s not like Apple’s competition is doing any better. If anything, Google is in far worse shape with their confused ecosystem, which fortunately Apple’s ecosystem isn’t.
So while in one vein I’m happy that Apple is refining their platforms and improving what’s already out there, and not ramming new mobile nonsense down are throats to purchase, I’m disappointed by their overall direction and lack of serious consideration on the non-mobile side (yeah, I get it, they don’t make as much money on Mac). Desktops aren’t dead, but they might just be if companies like Apple don’t bring their desktops into the present…let alone the future.