Essays on Technology and Culture

A Non-Developer’s Take on WWDC 2014

I don’t write software for the Mac, or iOS, or at all, for that matter. I write HTML, CSS, and I know how to build WordPress themes, and some other useful stuff. So, I’m not the target audience for the WWDC Keynote, but devoted Apple fan as I am (and have been since 2005), I had to tune in. Two hours later, Im more excited for the future of the tools I use every day than I have been since switching from Linux. As a user of the Holy Trinity of Apple Hardware, Mac, iPhone, and iPad, I’m in a good place to see some serious benefits from the latest updates when they finally drop.

iOS has always had massive untapped potential, and with iOS 8, it looks like Apple’s taking most of the brakes off. As an iOS Power User (or at least aspiring Power User), who keeps Launch Center Pro and Drafts in his dock, the possibilities of what the new Extension functionality can do are mind-blowing. Being able to access my 1Password keychain without leaving Safari, and using TouchID to unlock it, will completely change how I do web browsing on my iDevices. And, I’m willing to bet the folks at Smile flipped their lid over the news too. At last TextExpander touch will not have to rely on hacks to work. (Well, maybe.) Plus, if the iCloud stuff works as good as it looks, I may finally have the Dropbox replacement I want without the ethical conundrums.

The Mac’s played second fiddle to iOS, but now iOS and the Mac are getting tied deeply together. Yes, there’s a new UI for the Mac, and it makes Mavericks look like iOS 6 in comparison, but Continuity is where the magic really happens. If it works half as well as they make it out to work in the demos, I may never cast even the wariest of eyes at an Android device for the rest of my computing life. I’m genuinely curious about the Handoff API, and if third party developers will have access to it. If I can start writing a piece on my iPad in Editorial, and seamless switch to my Mac or iPhone, that would be incredible. We’re still a ways from Joshua Topoloksy’s “Continuous Client”, but Apple’s getting closer than anyone else.

They can do it, because everything is integrated. Yes, Apple wants to keep us all in their world, but I don’t think they need any new, exciting, hardware to make it happen. If Apple lands the execution on the software side, the capabilities they unlock in the hardware lines they have now, even with the most incremental hardware upgrades on the iOS side, they’ll have a platform that blows Android and Windows out of the water. Without the control of the entire experience on hardware and software, it’s infinitely more difficult to make things work as well as Apple, and their third-party developers can. I can’t wait to see how this changes how I work, and I know I won’t be alone.