WWDC ’17 Thoughts.

‘You’ve taken your first step into a larger world.’ – Obi-Wan

The iPad grew up last Monday. Finally.

I’ve purposefully held back from writing this the day after or even the same week as WWDC. Out of the products announced on Monday, iOS 11 is full of small updates that people are still finding out now. A different volume overlay on videos wasn’t found until Thursday for instance.

But first, as Marvin Candle once said, a little history.

Every major iOS release has had a tentpole feature or theme that you can remember to tell them apart.

iOS 6 had Maps, iOS 7 had its visual overhaul. iOS 8 had its power user features such as extensions and custom keyboards, while iOS 9 had its stable and security enhanceness, alongside 3D Touch with the 6S. Of course it also had the iPad features of Picture in Picture and Split-View.

With iOS 10, I still can’t think of a theme. Perhaps it was the slight visual tweaks? If it was called iOS 9.5, there’d be a good chance people wouldn’t be posting angry tweets about it and would be in agreement on the name.

But with iOS 11, its worthy of the +1 upgrade, mainly for iPad.

iOS 11 on iPad

By the time the iOS 11 section was wrapping up, doubt was starting to set in for the iPad. The leaks I had seen earlier in the day would be typos. Red Herrings.

Then Craig Federighi re-appears, and I don’t recall seeing him as excited to go through some features as he did when he talked about Drag and Drop and the Dock.

As I had said in my wishlist, iOS 11 is about tweaks to iPhone before the 8 launches in the autumn, while the tent pole features are mainly for iPad.

  • With Drag and Drop, I can now hold on an image or a URL in Safari, and while this and Notes is in Split-View, I openly have to drag it over, and it’s in a Notes sheet. No more saving the image and finding it through the Camera Roll.
  • I love how the Dock is now taken from macOS and its been inspired from the OS. I could almost lay it out just as I do with my MacBook now. I can have folders on the Dock, while a ‘quick look’ function can let me look at the recently used files from an app.
  • ‘Files.app’ is also another great future. It looks like a next-generation of the Finder from macOS. I can go to a document on Pages, and drag it to Google Drive within the same app if I wanted.

Another to note: Control Centre. Its finally been given the overhaul I’ve been hoping for since iOS 7. It looks like lego, while you can customise it exactly how you want. That feature alone is something I’m looking forward to, as I’ve never been keen on having to swipe through two cards on iOS 10 to go to music for instance.

The swipe ups on the keyboard for a symbol is a smart touch. Smart Invert Colours is something I want to look more at. It might be the Dark Mode I’ve been waiting for.

MacRumors have a great quick overview on the features announced.

That’s a very short overview of what I liked from the announcements. Now I’m waiting for the public beta and there’ll be more in-depth impressions of that soon.

10.5″ iPad

The new iPads surprised me. Their videos show iOS 11 running throughout, with drag and drop and the dock being shown off. These iPads are made for iOS 11 and above, regardless of its release being in autumn. I’m almost expecting Apple Stores to have their new demo iPads with iOS 11 running.

I get the impression that again, iOS 11 and the iPads signify a better focus on power users. Drag and Drop, the Dock, it’s only the start of where it can go as a PC replacement.
The ProMotion and the slightly bigger screen I really like, and I keep seeing from a few tweets that already, some iOS 11 iPad features are reserved just for the new models. I’m leaning towards a new 10.5″ iPad soon. I’ve also been looking at a Mac upgrade, and with these, they’ve made me think to look at the new iMacs instead of a laptop.

Their power with the A10X chip now rivals MacBooks from early 2012, which can handle any app (or three at once with the new multitasking feature), with ease.

This is now where the iPad has been rebooted in a sense. It can be a replacement for someone’s PC now, coupled with a wireless keyboard and a decent iPad stand, it would benefit even more customers once iOS 11 is officially released.

Other highlights

It’s no secret that Apple have now refocused their efforts on the Mac hardware. I don’t usually use this term, but for the last eighteen months, it’s justified: they have received a bollocking from pros for the Mac’s lack of power and availability for them. Focus on design more than the internals in the last few years have clearly irritated. But no more.

The keyboard alone on the new MacBook Pros have kept me from seriously looking at buying one, whereas the keyboard that come with the iMacs are just what I’d like to see on the MacBooks. Alongside the extra power and a 4K display, I’m leaning towards one of those in the coming months once my Air has given up.

The native support for an eGPU is welcome. This is where a graphics card can essentially be plugged into a port on the Mac and have its graphics power supercharged, whether its games or video editing.

The VR and AR features surprised me. Having someone use a HTC Vive on a ‘regular’ iMac, walking around Mustafar was madness. There’s a lot of potential in AR especially. It’s a smart move that their AR API launches now, and its official launch won’t be until September at the least. This gives developers time to have their apps, or new apps, given enough time to have their AR features refined and easily accessible to the most minimal user.

The iMac Pro was a great tease, and the space black design alone is something that will tempt some customers to the product. A 16 core model and DDR memory that can expand to 128GB is tempting to professionals. I wonder how much the ‘new’ Mac Pro will be if this model starts at $4,999, alongside its power.

Overall, the keynote resolved a lot of fears and requests, from casual users to pro users.

It’s now a wait and see of whether these features will be improved upon in the coming 11.x releases, but right now, its a good time for all involved.

Some links below that may be of interest:

MacRumours iOS 11 Small Things.

State of the Union.

App Store 2.0