Thoughts on WWDC 2015

Well, it’s that time of the year again. So…

It was definitely a “Snow Leopard / Mountain Lion” time. Not much as far as end-user feature go : if features like the mouse cursor being enlarged if you jiggle it or swipes on messages in Mail.app get stage time during the keynote, it really means you don’t have much to show at all. But, likely a lot of fixes and refinements under the hood, as early feedback on El Capitan’s first beta would indicate (I’m not running it yet). Less so with iOS 9, though.

Swift 2 : again more refinement (I like the new error handling), but the big announcement is of course that it goes Open Source. I said last year that I expected Swift to play a role on the server side at some point, as it was clearly more suitable for this that Objective C (yes, I know WebObjects was initially written in Objective C). Now I’m even more certain of that. I’m not sure if this effort will come from Apple, right now I’d say probably not, but given that they are getting better on the server side, it’s possible that they would want to take advantage of Swift to build their own solution, possibly inspired from WebObjects https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebObjects.

Also, there were a bunch of Swift-related sessions, quite technical, which I very much recommend :

Protocol-Oriented Programming in Swift
Building Better Apps with Value Types in Swift
Swift in Practice
Improving your existing apps with Swift

which really shows how serious Apple is about Swift (surprisingly I still see some people having doubts on that), and the depth of the language itself.

Photos.app editing extensions : that one didn’t get any stage time except for a mention on one of the slides, but it does have my full interest. It means Photos.app becomes much closer to being a suitable replacement for Aperture. The only thing that would be missing is a better library management : having only global timeline and albums won’t really cut it, neither will the lack of rating and flagging images. You also need to be able to transfer images from one library to another. But as far as editing goes, it’s looking pretty good.

watchOS : I haven’t looked at it yet, just acknowledging it’s existence. Cool.

side note : I’ve had an Apple Watch for a month now, and I really like it. I reached the same conclusion as most others have, it’s not a life changing device as the iPhone can be (though for some it can be), but it’s a very nice complement, hugely convenient. The quietness it brings in removing the need to compulsively check for your iPhone is, ironically, invaluable. I expect native apps to open it further in interesting ways, though.

Apple Music : Right before the keynote I had attended the MIDEM in Cannes, which featured Sony’s CEO “pre-announce” of Apple Music. Having a rough idea of the music industry’s stance toward Apple’s new service (they have great expectations for it), I knew that this “one more thing” was not for the devs in the audience, who quite expectedly found it rather dull and out of place. Still, the service looks quite interesting, reasonably priced, and I might get a subscription, even though I already own (legally, mind you) more music than I can listen to. What I’m also curious about is how it will fare compared to existing competitors. Many have noted that it flies against Steve Job’s poor opinion of music subscription services. On that regard, I think it tells more about how much the music industry has changed, and how music itself is consumed differently, than how Apple is yet again trying to do something right that everybody else has gotten wrong. The current state of the music streaming business shows that several players in that field have gotten it right already, or at least well enough.

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