While the Tame Apple Press did its best to promote the rally, er WWDC keynote, there was one thing missing from the event – a noticeable, useful and “game changing product.” You would not know this fact from the press coverage, but scanning a careful eye over what was released, you cannot help being overwhelmed by the loud-sounding nothing.
The headline launch was iOS 10, which was billed as a new major version of its operating system for iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches. The “major change” turned out to be a redesigned control centre with interactive notifications and improvements to widgets. 3D Touch can now do more: for example, you can press your screen to clear all notifications at once (hooray).
Next up were the improvements made to Apple’s Siri, which make it easier to accidently call the emergency services without any effort. Apple promises that you can book rides on services like Uber and Lyft, start and pause workouts, and make payments to send money to friends with Square Cash and other services. Siri will be more intelligent in messaging. For example, if a friend asks for the contact information of another friend, Siri can automatically provide the contact. Siri can also pull up calendar availability in message threads and let you do multilingual typing without switching the keyboard language.
While the changes to Siri do fit into the “super,” “cool” and “amazing” category they are behind what rivals are doing in AI. Apple, after doing so well with Siri, dropped the ball on this one.
Apple also promised more intelligent photo management, including facial recognition technology to identify people in photos. This is something that is done on Facebook and again is nothing special. Photos can also be sorted by automatically generated topics, like “on the water” or “at the beach.”
There has been improvements to maps including the ability to pan and zoom further ahead to see traffic conditions, quick controls to see route details, and locations of food and gas stations on your route. Maps will tell you how much longer it will take to go to any of these places. Of course if you trust Apple Maps after its launch fiasco you might want to replace this with an App with Google or something else a little more reliable. Most of that functionality can be found for free on Google anyway.
WWDC was also told that Apple Music now had 15 million paying customers. The figure is rather low considering Apple’s fanbase. Jobs’ Mob is not doing as well as it would like in this “so called” new direction. Once again it depended on numbers from China to make up the difference only to find itself banned by the Chinese authorities.
What did Apple tell WWDC, if it had nothing to really sell? Apple Senior VP Craig Federighi made the somewhat scary prediction that “Children of tomorrow will have no understanding of the English language.” Maybe it was more of a hope you need a mastery of the English language to spot that the worlds coming out of Apple are spinning a lack of substantial product, or innovative strategy.