This morning we finally got to see the WWDC keynote and the announcement of the much-anticipated iOS 7…and despite the constant oohs and aahs from the Kool-Aid drinking attendees, it wasn’t all good news.
The good, the bad and the ugly…
As usual, Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked off the keynote by rattling off a bunch of numbers…
Apple’s developers program has 6 Million members, 1.5 million of which joined since WWDC last year. This year’s WWDC event sold out in 71 seconds and Apple’s retail Stores receive 1 Million daily visitors. The App Store will be turning 5 years old in a couple of months and there are currently 900,000+ iOS Apps in the App Store, 375,000 of which are iPad apps and 93% of which are downloaded every month.
Apple recently saw its 50 Billionth app downloaded from the App Store. There are 575 Million iTunes Store accounts most of which had credit cards attached meaning that the App Store has more accounts with credit cards on the internet than any other store that they know of. So far Apple has paid out over $10 Billion to developers, half of which was paid out in the last year alone.
Unfortunately (aside from one cool Anki Drive iOS tech demo) as usual the lion’s share (pun intended) of the first half of the presentation was taken up discussing the latest version of the Mac OS and Mac hardware. Ditching the ‘cat themed’ releases the next version of Mac OS X was dubbed Mavericks after (I guess) a popular surfing destination in Northern California. I’d have preferred Apple go with “Sea Lion” as “Mavericks” sounds dumb to me and means nothing to pretty much anyone living outside of Northern California or who is not a surfer. The only highlight of this section was that the new Macbook Pro would be produced in the US. After
wasting spending nearly an hour on Mac updates in excruciating detail on even the most minute and trivial of “new” features we finally got to something interesting…iOS 7.
If the first sentence of his post didn’t give it away, I have to admit that I was a bit underwhelmed by today’s iOS 7 announcement and I ended up feeling a bit slighted, nauseated and left with too many unanswered questions. It seems like with every positive thing iOS 7 brings to the table, there is something negative that can be said about it as well.
First and foremost I’m not really sure I like all the aspects of this “simplistic” new design. Some of the redesigned apps looks nice, while others just look too sparse. While I welcome a change from the stale interface we’ve had for the last 5+ years, I seriously question the look of the new app icons, some of which look downright hideous and child-like in their design. They seem like some sort of cruel joke that Jony Ive is trying to pull over on us and I’m still waiting for the punchline. I’d say that it looks like a kid drew them, but I’d be insulting kids as my own children would certainly do a better job than that…just look at that Newsstand icon! The bright green color of the new Phone and Messages icons are enough to make me go cross-eyed. And don’t even get me started on the atrocity that is the Game Center multi-colored bubbles. Perhaps these will appeal to me over time or when I actually see it in my hands, but right now iOS 7 is looking a bit too stark for my tastes.
This tweet I saw earlier today sums it up nicely:
Aside from the minimalistic facelifts on the existing core apps iOS 7 will be getting some new features…
Folders With Unlimited Pages
While Folders in iOS 7 now allow for multiple pages, they now only allow for three icons across, meaning that I will definitely need to have multiple pages in any of my existing 12-icon folders.
Other announced features included the previously announced car integration with a number of specified vehicle manufacturers, age and location-based app recommendations in the App Store, a nice security update that will not let your phone be Activated even if wiped by thieves, audio-only Facetime calls. It appears that Game Center may be adding official support for third-party controllers. There were also some improvements done to both the voice and abilities of Siri. Now Siri can even be a man…baby!
There are also 1500 new APIs available to developers.
There are still some unknowns
There are still quite a few unknowns and until we get the final release build of iOS we won’t know exactly what made the final cut. As I mentioned there was no mention of interactive notifications, it is unclear if consumers will be able to set their own default apps for specified tasks.
I’m really hoping that in the coming months iOS 7 will grow on me since in some ways looks like an improvement=, but as I said, the WWDC press conference left me a bit sad and unsure of the new direction of iOS platform. The cosmetic changes coming in iOS 7 are likely to be fairly polarizing and do not offer the broad appeal of the current design. I will reserve final judgement until the official releases, but I just don’t think this release hits all of the bullet points it needed to in order to catch up to the user-friendly/customizable experience offered by competitive platforms. We’ll have to wait until the Fall for iOS 7. There was no mention of the Apple TV or any other iOS products so it appears these will be coming in the Fall as well.