WWDC - Keynote Thoughts

3 minute read

I think I’m dehydrated, my feet hurt from standing and my butt hurts from sitting, and my mind is still processing what I just saw this morning and this afternoon. It’s been a great first few days at WWDC 2018!

WWDC in person

Waking up at 5 AM and waiting in line for 4 hours for the keynote, the two hour Keynote followed by two hours of beta downloading, another two hour presentation for the Platform State of the Union, the Design awards, and then naptime before the Loop Bash and Firebase Party. Yesterday I attended talks and got a chance to visit Apple Park. I’m wiped.

Attending WWDC live on Monday is a lot like live streaming these famous day-one events but with 10x #hype. Waiting in line with thousands of other developers and reacting live with them was a blast. I was mesmerized by sheer live production value.

When it comes to the actual announcements, I have a few observations.

iOS 12 is Performant

The story of iOS 12 is boosting performance while addressing some key problem areas in iOS like notifications and Siri with modest improvements. Following the trend of app-use awareness, iOS 12 also introduces some anti-distraction features to help users manage and minimize their time spent on their phone and in certain apps.

Oh yeah, also a password manager! iOS is definitely still all about privacy.

Notifications

iOS notifications have always been a struggle. The simplistic concept of every new push notification tumbling into the stack on your lock screen has become a chore to manage.

This year Apple introduced a new Android-like treatment of lock screen notifications where similar notifications (same app, similar category) are grouped into one stack that can be triaged together.

In addition, iOS 12 will prompt you when it detects you’re getting too many similar notifiactions and enable you to manage your push settings for the given app. Overall, some solid improvements for users.

Siri Workflows

Apple bought a workflow app a couple of years ago, so now it’s part of Siri! Siri ‘Workflows’ enables users to create custom ‘scenarios’ for standard workflows like driving home from work or going to bed. You can define new trigger words for Siri and integrate third party apps to create your workflows.

So now you can program Siri to tell it what to do - great. Telling Siri what to do kind of seems like it defeats the purpose, but alas, it’s where we are. And at least it’s something else with Siri in the name.

Screen Time & Do Not Disturb

Do Not Disturb added features for overnight notifications, and Screen Time is a new Settings category to show you how you’re spending time in apps. In addiiton, if you have especially addictive apps, you can set a time limit on them to keep you from getting sucked in for too long.

Along with the Notification management, these features are Apple’s attempt at helping users manage the time spent on their phones. It’s following the greater trend among big social networks where they are trying to help users fight phone addiction. It always feels a little half-hearted hearing the peddlers of the tools for our addiction also trying to provide us relief from the negative effects, but it’s where we are.

Security & Password Management

As always, Apple is all about security. This year they are attacking one of the biggest security weak points for most people - their passwords. Now in iOS 12 you can allow iOS to manage your passwords and generate new ones when you’re creating accounts in iOS apps and in Safari.

The API’s look pretty simple, and is definitely nice from a user perspective. Apple is also being pretty transparent when it comes to how it can work with existing password managers, so don’t get rid of your 1Password subscription just yet.

The Rest

macOS Mojave is the refresh with a sick name and a new Dark Mode in macOS. Mac is still all about security, and they’ve added even more encryption by default to your files.

The biggest Mac news was that now macOS apps can use aspects of the UIKit framework to build apps. To demonstrate, Apple has rebuilt and ported a few apps to macOS and re-built them for iOS as well - apps like Stocks, Voice Memos, and a newly redesigned App Store.

I’ll have more updates in the forms of some smaller one-off articles on the features that are affecting me out of WWDC.

Let me know what you’re excited about @ajkueterman on Twitter.