WWDC ’16: Color commentary from the cheap seats

Miss the keynote? You can catch it on the rebound here.

For what felt like a jam-packed keynote—with updates for four different operating systems—there were precious few large takeaways and almost no surprises. The rumor sites were right about Siri for the Mac, a software toolkit for Siri, the Apple Music redesign and that OS X would be rebranded macOS. The action was mostly in incremental improvements and APIs for popular applications, with special attention to iMessage. Wall Street, unsurprisingly was unimpressed.


My notes from the event (all times Pacific):

11:59. Cook summarizes the advances in what Apple is now marketing as four platforms: watchOS, tvOS, macOS Sierra, iOS (“the mother of all releases”)

11:54: Cook: We believe coding should be required subject in all schools, so we’re making Swift free. He’s definitely going after the Chromebook school market. The video about coding around the world — striking Apple’s “change the world” theme — is actually quite moving. Cheers from the developers when it’s over.

11:44: Back to Tim Cook. “I couldn’t be more proud…” A pitch for Swift. Haven’t heard about that for a while. More than 100,000 apps that have “adopted the use of Swift code” whatever that means. Photo of teens using Swift. “It can be your first programming language.” A new app for iPad: Swift Playgrounds (surprising loud applause). Will this help the iPad compete with Chromebooks in schools? Not in the grades that have to do a lot of typing?  Another woman to give the demo. Pretty low level interface. Too cheesy for high school kids? Mastering loops looks a bit more useful. Playing around with gravity with coding keyboard looks more interesting. Public beta next month. Is there a version of Swift Playground for macOS? I’ll have to look into that…

10:49: iOS 10. Federighi is doing this one too. He has become Apple’s go-to presenter.

Ticks off 10 improvements:

  1. Raise your wrist to see notifications on lock screen. Force touch to take action. Works with Uber. Does it work with every 3rd party app? New slide options: up, over, over the other way. More obscurity from Apple. i.e., How does the user learn about these things?
  2. Siri: Opening up to developers, as widely rumored.
  3. QuickType. “Siri intelligence to the keyboard” Buzzword alert: Deep learning LSTM’s. Auto fill in calendar events.
  4. Photos. “Advanced computer vision” Deep learning buzzword again. Face recognition and scene recognition “with privacy protected.’ More buzzwords: Advanced AI. To make photo albums organized by Highlight reels. Memories. Topics. Trips. Catching up to one of Google Photo’s creepiest features. Mood slider changes the music. Weird. Mac gets “many” of these features as well. More deprecation for the Mac.
  5. (Eddy Cue back to stage) Maps. New design More pro-active: It knows you have a lunch date, for example, and can offer sea food restaurants. Much improved traffic notifications. Alternate routes suggested (unlike Waze, which does it automatically). Open to developers.
  6. Music 15 million paid subscribers. All-new design. Clarity and simplicity that should have been there before, “Music is the hero” First Apple deep by a female African American. She tries and fails to get the audience to rap to the beat. Lyrics gets a big applause. She’s got demo chops! Connect has been deprecated to a subset deep in For You. Radio live in almost 100 countries. Shows on demand. Big applause for the woman in the pink pumps. Big improvement over last year!
  7. News. 2,000 publications. 60 million monthly users. New design. For you. New topics based on what you read. I never could figure out how to fine tune the old one. Subscriptions gets tepid applause.
  8. Federici is back. HomeKit. “before we introduced the home accessor market was a mess.” Guess what? It still is! This year: a new app called Home on iOS. All your accessories in one place. Mine is going to be quite empty! Live feed of your front door is pretty cool. Access through Apple TV because it is always on. (Really? Mine isn’t.) No Apple answer to Amazon Echo, I guess.
  9. Phone. Voice mail transcription is very cool. “Possible phone spam” is also cool.
  10. Messages.The most frequently use app on iOS. Emoji 3X bigger. Finally! Emoji predictions. Emojifiction. The new verb — and the new app — gets big laughs. Bubble effects. Not clear how the slider works. Ditto effects. Bethany and Enron do the demo. Double touch, press and hold for effects. Share music etc. “without leaving iMessage.” (Demo fails here). Invisible ink. Full screen effect. Lots of bells and whistles. Opening up iMessage to developers. Pay through Square cash (is that the Gurman rumor?) Mac and Watch can receive, but not create.

The usual Apple emphasis on privacy: End-to-end encryption, no user profiles. Buzzword alert: “Differential privacy” is a new kind of crowdsourced learning. Another way Apple is highlighting its AI. “great features and privacy.” One more thing…a video. (Don’t wear that out, Craig.) Public beta in July, free upgrade in the fall.

10:34: Craig Federighi to talk about OS X. Is he seriously going to make a fuss about the name? macOS. Big applause. Really? Sierra. Smaller applause. Auto Unlock: the task they took on this year. So if your watch is connected, no need to enter password on Mac. Universal clipboard got Ooohs. Copy on iPhone, paste on Mac. iCloud Drive: 10 billion docs in drive today. Makes desktop available across devices. Uh oh. I’m going to have to clean up my desktop today. Optimized storage looks good, but maybe dangerous. Apple Pay to the Mac looks useful. I wonder if this will reduce the number of times I have to enter my Apple iTunes ID. Tabs everywhere feels like an invitation for abuse and another way to get lost. Picture in picture. Applause that actually grew in volume. One more thing: Siri on Mac. “Show me the files I worked on last week about TK…” Cool demo of using Siri to build a document. Unfortunately, by the time this becomes available I’m going to have forgotten how to do it. Public beta in July, available to everyone in the fall.

10:27: Eddy Cue is doing Apple TV, starting with some weak quotes. Round numbers: 1,300 video channels and 6,000 native apps. Sling is coming today. Fox sports something coming this summer. Molotov.tv, french TV. Sketch party seems a bit lame to me. Small beer: New remote app for iPhone. Dark mode. Replay kit. Photo Kit. Home Kit (wish he’d told us more about that!) Siri search categories 650,000 movies and TV shows. Live Tune-in on iPad and Apple TV addresses the sign in problem with Single Sign-In. Finally. Coming to customers “this fall.”

10:26: Lots of new APIs for watch developers. Preview available today. Free upgrade this fall. “It’s going to feel like a whole new watch.” (That’s the money quote.)

10:18: Activity sharing is a new twist on getting healthy — i.e. competitive health goals, including “smack talk.” More for stair steppers than yoga masters. For wheelchair users: Time to stand has been replaced with Time to roll. Very Apple-like sensitivity for special need. Take a minute to breath” is a nice touch, with haptic feedback so you can do it with eyes closed.

10:17: The underutilized side button just got a new reason for being: SOS emergency calls.

10:13: The fact that the demo is done by a woman gets a high-pitched cheer. The proof is in the pudding, but i looks like the watch just got significantly better, especially if you know a little Mandarin.

10:08: Starting with Watch OS, the least? Kevin Lynch promises instant launch. They’ve learned from a year and reorganized the user interface in big (new navigation structures to replace the circles) and small ways (like Minnie coming to the watch.)

10:05 The North Star speech with a twist: Now four platforms. Category defining and world changing. I bet we hear that again.

Subtle rebranding: Apple Watch no longer the “most personal” device, now “the ultimate device” for health.

10:04 Apple loves these nice round numbers. Milestones:  2 million apps on the App Store. 130 billion downloads. About to pass $50 billion paid to developers.

10:00: Opening remarks — and moment of silence for the victims of the Orlando shooting — has a special resonance for Tim Cook, perhaps the world’s most prominent gay CEO.

9:58 If a tree falls in a forest…

9:53  Wi-Fi fail. Live blogs are gasping for air. Tune in later

8:58: I’m in. First WWDC rumor dispelled: No metal detectors. Big joke. Ho ho.

The view from center stage:


Click to enlarge.

7:36 Huge crowd, small orifices. The terror factor.

crowd 2


Starting this event on time (10 a..m Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern) could be a challenge.


  1. Did anybody manage to live blog the keynote from inside Bill Graham? The WiFi was so bad couldn’t see the competition.

    June 13, 2016
  2. Richard Wanderman said:
    All looked like great updates.

    The one thing that has bothered me for a while now is that Cook keeps saying that the iPad is the future of personal computing. This is not a great sign for us power Mac users, or, he’s differentiating “personal” from “desktop.”

    Eddie Cue is the weakest presenter as were the two Messages folks. The woman who did Swift Workshop was fantastic, hope to see more of her in the future.

    June 13, 2016

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