Thoughts on WWDC’21 : A Fun-Take, a Serious-Take and What it means for future Apple products
It’s been almost a month now since Apple unveiled their upcoming software for iPhone, iPad and Mac at the WWDC — Apple’s Annual Developer Conference. However, I have not always been a fan of Developer Conferences of any company until I watched WWDC last year. WWDC’20 happened last year in June and was the first of many pre-filmed events Apple did.
Because of the pandemic, many Tech companies had their events streamed online but what was so special about Apple Events? Yes,it was the hype from their loyal fan-base ofcourse (Apple Sheeps, as we call them) but apart from it there was also the production quality, the demo (filled with some humour), the attention to details and much more that everyone got to witness. WWDC’21 happened to be just like one of those events and here is my take on it.
Developers make an Opening Film For WWDC
Its rare to see a company like Apple doing fun-stuff to this level that they make a spoof of their own Heads working there. It has happened at some level in the past but with this WWDC, we saw ‘Not Actual’ Craig Federighi and a ‘Not Actual’ Tim Cook while Developers asked to make an opening film for WWDC. The short episodes of these two actors imitating Tim and Craig were really funny and engaging in a way that you wish to stay for more humour during the demo from Actual Craig… or Tim.
It was also wonderful to see that this time (unlike last year), the Steve Jobs Theatre was not completely empty and void of any buzz and hoots. This year we got to see developers sitting in the audience, virtually, with all the Memoji heads springing up and down. These kind of small efforts (not to mention the beautiful transitions all across Apple Park) in production is what makes even a Developer Conference seem more exciting to non-developers.
Craig — The Demo Guy
Craig Federighi, the Senior VP of Software Engineering At Apple or how all Apple-fans know him as: the Legendary Demo Guy. Just kidding, we call him Hair Force One!
Right from the time he comes on stage with his energetic run, you know the show has begun but what’s amazing is how he doesn’t loose a sweat throughout the demo and ends his demo with the same energy he started with earlier. However, from last year, with all the pre-recorded events we have seen Craig become more… zestful than ever before. Most of these are all thanks to Apple’s excellent budget (which does not compromise anywhere) and Tim Cook’s permission to go crazy during demos like these. This year we saw Craig running, jumping, teleporting and driving. Thanks, Apple!
The Easter-Egg Prank
When Craig revealed the Live Text feature and went ahead with the demo we see a whiteboard, he points his iPhone at, that seems to have a bunch of things written on it. Let me decipher it for you:
Top secret features for WWDC 22:
- Haircut reminder (use front-facing camera)
- Personal hologram (video call stand-in)
- Dog Airpods (AirBuds? Does Siri speak Dog?)
- Autonomous Phone Retrieval (Find Me?)
- Personal Stylist Feature
- Scroll to recharge
There is also a bunch of other stuff related to Apple TV locking itself if a user takes a lot of time to pick a show, Animal GIFs on increased blood pressure detection on Apple Watch, brainstorming macOS names, AirPods testing etc.
At first, you really wonder if they are what they mean but sooner than later you realise you have been a part of huge Apple Easter-Egg prank. Maybe, Apple knew you were gonna zoom in (like me) just to see these “secret features” of WWDC’22 so they made up some ridiculous-sounding features for their favourite leakers. Well, at least I did zoom in all the way so the jokes on me. Also, I will be waiting for “scroll to recharge”
The Serious Take
Attention to Details
If there is one thing, I admire about Apple above all, its the attention they pay to the details. (Or lets just say they love hiding some easter eggs that people take a longer time to notice. I am still mad about the WWDC’22 top secret features prank). Here’s an image of three Apple Watches to your left. Two of them, show the time 10:09 and that time — 10:09 has some real historic significance in the World of Watches right from Aesthetics to Marketing (Read more about it here). Its amazing how Apple pays attention to these small details because you will notice almost all Apple Watches in the WWDC demo, on every demo guy’s hand, showing the time 10:09 just like how all iPhones, iPads and Mac show the time 9:41 (unveling of the OG iPhone in 2007 by Steve Jobs)
Marketing for the Competitor
Apple also does this very annoying thing when it comes to displaying competitor brand’s products during their demo. They make them seem ugly. And while, I understand that they wish to show their products as the absolute best, even while showing off a propriety software now coming for all, they really make Android Phones and Windows Laptops seem like an instant turnoff. For years now, Apple treats themselves and their products as being from an entirely different universe where no other phones, tablets or laptops exists. Never has an iPhone’s RAM or Battery been compared with an Android. They are only compared to the previous iPhone’s performance. By never mentioning another company, they seem to have kept their customers happy in the walled-garden. But seriously Apple, show us a better Android next time.
“We already had that feature”
Oh yes, Apple users have heard this phrase before and are gonna hear it again and again when the new iPhones release and again next year and the year after that. Thanks to Android, we know a world of possibilities that exist beyond the iPhone and those that Apple will take years to implement. However, Apple has been choosy of what they want their products to do and how they want it to behave. In a YouTuber’s interview with Craig Federighi, I heard him reveal how some features of iOS 15 were on the table as early as 2015–16 but never made through because they wanted to do it at the right time.Similarly, I have heard about the AirPods being tested by Apple in, as early as, 2010 (FYI: they released in 2016). This just tells us that Apple does not give a damn about competition. They don’t care about Android having a million features or even shipping a bazillion different phones. They do it or launch it when they think it’s the right time.
What does new iOS mean for future Apple products?
So this is something, I have been observing quite a while. The new iOS version released every year during WWDC in June becomes the first software that runs on the iPhone shipped that year (in Sept-Oct). So does the new OS give us hints of what the next iPhone is capable of? While, I have never found strong point from previous WWDCs to prove this claim, there are some that persisting thoughts there:
In WWDC’19, Apple had revamped the ‘Find My’ app as ‘Find My iPhone’ but more interestingly, they had introduced the ‘Devices’ tab that added location for your other Apple Devices like AirPods, iPads, Macs, Apple Watch etc. That year was coincidently, also the year that iPhones (iPhone 11 and 11 Pro) got an UWB chip in them that improves location accuracy in short-range and adding more to that AirTags (that released in Spring 2021) were supposed to start shipping as soon as 2019 (Read more here). However, the same pattern might not lead to hints when it comes to iPhone 12. While iOS 14 focused on making the UI more compact and introducing widgets, we didn’t see a much improved battery-life with iPhone 12. We did get more RAM on the Pro models though.
So what does iOS 15 mean for the next iPhone or future Apple products in the pipeline?
Personal Take: iOS 15 seems to have features like drag-and-drop (previously only in Files App) implemented all across the OS. The drag-and-drop feature requires swift animations as you go from one app to another and we would really benefit from a higher refresh rate on an iPhone this year. Just saying. Also, the Photos app now provides more info related to the photo like what device it was taken on and lens setting used (ISO, Aperture etc) that was previously only accessible on Mac Photos App. Does this hint towards improved camera lenses on new iPhones that Apple might want to brag about in the Photos info? Will Focus modes be implemented with Passcodes/FaceID or I daresay, TouchID on newer iPhones? Improvement in Maps and Weather that work mostly on A12 and later iPhones are performance intensive and I wouldn’t be surprised if they add more RAM (or an M1 chip under Mission Implausible 2) to the iPhones this year. The new Apple-Maps revamp with Google Earth like 3D setting seems to be hinting towards development with AR Technology and plausibly AR Headset/Glasses? Will iMessage be available for Andro… okay that’s too much!
However, only time and Apple will tell us what’s actually in-stores and online (pun-intended for pundemic xD)