Android thoughts on today’s Apple announcements
There's nothing like a good, live nerd event. And Apple still does some of the best.
Our cousins at iMore were on hand today as Apple unveiled the next generation of its four pillars of products and services. Computers. Mobile. Wearables. TV. There's a whole lot going on here. And like many of you out there, we also use myriad devices both at work, and at home. We use Android. We use Google. We use Windows and Mac and everything in between. Our families use them all, too.
And so we all have some skin in this game, and we at Android Central watch these keynotes as intently as anyone.
If you've yet to do so, swing by iMore for all the big announcements from the WWDC keynote.
And now I'll lay out some of my thoughts from today's announcements. (I miss anything obvious? Sing out in the comments!)
On iOS 10 ...
Wow. There is a lot here that we've seen before on Android. And not just recently, but things that came up years ago. But in typical Apple style, it's been invented all over again. And in a whole lot of ways, it appears to have been done better.
- "Raise to wake" is Apple's implementation of what Motorola started with the Moto X. In 2013. Pick up the phone and you see your notifications. As so many of us learned at the time, it'll change your life.
- The 3D Touch implementation with that looks really good.
- "Slide to launch camera" really gets time in a keynote? OK.
- Widgets on a lockscreen — Google did that in 2012. (And not particularly well.)
- APIs for Siri — super-powerful.
- Photos and — Was Google Photos just whitelabeled? Have to wonder if all the improvements here were a direct result of Google Photos (which is excellent), or just a natural progression. (Probably a bit of both.)
- Apple makes such a big deal about all this processing being done on the phone. Just because Google does that for me server-side doesn't mean I'm being violated. That's just scaremongering.
- "Advanced Computer Vision." LMAO. C'mon.
- "Memories"? With "Advanced Artificial Intelligence"? You mean like the (/zoes-video-highlights) on device and before I left the store back in 2013? Or like what you get in Google Photos today?
- Apple Music actually looks like it'll be useable. Great service. Lousy (current) app.
- A new section called "Downloads" that shows your downloaded music? That's crazy talk!
- If you don't have at least an iPhone 5, you're out of luck. That's going to spur a lot of upgrades. But what I'm really picturing are a bunch of kids with their parents' old phones, sans SIM card, who won't get to use stickers and animations and all those other annoying messaging things Apple's adding.
- In related news, I guess I need to upgrade our iPad 2.
- The Messages app looks ridiculously powerful. Emoji and stickers and animation are nonstarters for me, though. I'm old.
- Invisible Ink is very cool.
- Yes, Google's got Allo coming this summer. But Messages is built in. That's the difference.
On macOS Sierra ...
- Switching from "OSX" to "macOS"? Makes sense. And folks are obsessing over it a little much. (Who talks about what an OS is called that much in real life?)
- "Sierra" ... I've always loved that word.
- Auto unlock — great if you've got an Apple Watch. Moot if you don't? And while the security-ease of use thing is always a tradeoff, I just don't know about this one. ..
- Universal Clipboard sounds great for that 1 percent of the time you want to copy something from a phone and paste it on a computer. (I think that's Apple playing to its audience.)
- iCloud Drive everywhere? I was skeptical at first. But for as much as Jerry chides me for not having VNC on my machines, I do want to stop leaving things on my office computer. (Not everything lives in Dropbox.)
- Optimized Storage — wait a minute. That "don't worry about where things are" file system Apple's been using got clunky? I won't turn down more free storage, of course.
- Apple Pay on the web — moot for me. Should be great for folks all-in, though.
- Tabs "everywhere" sounds like a nightmare to me. And I'm far from organized.
- Picture-in-picture — you mean, like in a window? (It does look sweet in full-screen, though.)
- Siri on the Mac — Looks like it should work pretty good. Wonder how Europe feels about that being built in to the system level.
On watchOS 3 ...
- Faster app loads is huge. There's nothing worse on a smartwatch than lag. Any sluggishness is magnified because it's a watch.
- A lot of the new features are right in line with what Google announced just a few weeks ago. They're mostly pretty obvious when it comes to what you'd expect to see on a smartwatch.
- I've used one of the early builds of Android Wear 2.0. These are good features. If you like the Apple Watch, these updates should make it that much better.
- Seriously, though. I'd love to see an Apple Watch that looks like a watch.
- If you need a watch app to help you remember to do some deep breathing ... C'mon. ...
On tvOS ...
- Live Channels is huge. That's the only reason I refuse to cut the cord at home. This might well change that.
- The new single sign-on sounds great (though I don't think it's that much of a hassle to sign into services) — but there's got to be more to it than what they showed.
- Dark mode? Sweet. Everything should have dark mode.
- On-device remote controls don't do a damn thing for me. I want to use a remote without having to look at it.
- "Siri, find me high school comedies from the '80s." ... Google (on the N beta) doesn't return as many results for the same query. (In fact, it only gives me those six results.) And no Breakfast Club top-level?!?!
On Homekit ...
- That all looks incredible, all that connected home stuff working together. Automatic blinds talking to my lights and my devices and my sprinklers and my ..
- The one thing that stood out to me though in the sort of computer-generated demo was that the number of homes that have that much connected tech in one place are probably very new, and very affluent.
- It's good future stuff, though.
On Swift Playgrounds ...
- I'm 100 percent behind the idea of getting more people to learn to code, and starting them young. Swift Playground looks incredible.
- But it's only on Apple products, eh? Like Jerry pointed out, so many schools (including my daughters') are issuing Chromebooks to students.
- Hope Mom and Dad have deep pockets.
One more thing ...
We hear a lot about APIs at a developer conference. We'll hear about how many hundreds or thousands of APIs are added to any given release.
But today, Apple announced APIs for its core suite of apps. Siri. Messages. Maps. So many openings for so many developers to do so many things.
That's a big question I have as we go into Google's next generation of products. Just how open is Google Assistant? How well will developers be able to hook into Google Home? And what comes after that? Allo looks great, but it's another app to download and another service to onboard. Does Apple have a huge head start now? Maybe. There's still a lot we don't know about a lot of things.
But this much, to me, was clear after today's keynote: Apple just made its products — its watches, its set-top boxes, its phones and tablets and computers — a lot more powerful. One Achilles' Heel remains. To take advantage of a lot of these features, you need to be all-in on Apple's ecosystem. If you pick and choose like a lot of us do — using Apple's hardware with other companies' services — you're going to miss out on a lot. And that's a shame, particularly in developing nations. Because Apple still has a lot to offer. ... Just as long as you can buy in.