Over the last few months, the difficulties for Apple seemed to be increasing constantly. On the one hand, there was the plunge in shares (from 700 to 400) and the feeling that the company had lost some of its freshness and drive. For the first time, it seemed that the lack of Steve Jobs might be making a dent and there were doubts whether the new management could preserve the frenetic pace of the company’s last years.
As if that wasn’t enough, there was last month’s Google IO… While the Google IO was taking place (about 1 month ago and in Moscone itself) I was in Silicon Valley, teaching an iOS programming course on Facebook. Every day, after finishing the work, I would meet for dinner with a friend (@ebf) who was going to the IO. What I was telling was frankly worrying. Google did a fantastic job in this last year, and the new APIs it released for Android gave more than one iOS developer long teeth.
While the Google IO lasted, Google’s shares shot up dramatically and Apple’s fell even more. It didn’t look good. Either Apple was getting its act together, or we could be on the verge of a cycle change, with Android taking the technological lead.
In some American technology blogs, Tim Cook was beginning to be compared to Gil Amelio: worse prognosis, impossible. With the entry in hand, it was time to go anyway.
Monday June 10: The Empire Strikes Back
The developers I had talked to hours before the WWDC seemed generally discouraged and didn’t expect much from this WWDC, and there was a somewhat gloomy, not to say defeatist, atmosphere. It was clear that the Google IO steamroller had made its mark.
As soon as you get to the Keynote queue, you start noticing changes. There is free coffee for those in the queue and the doors open early, reducing the time spent outdoors. Indeed, you can see the new administration, with a closer and more human touch.
A wave of change: OSX Mavericks
That feeling of change is still noticeable as the Keynote begins. First break with the past: the new version of OSX will be the 11th and no more cats. From now on the names will be derived from the world of surfing and waves (something very Californian), starting with one of the most famous beaches: Mavericks.
As if that were not enough, a “maverick” in English is a person with groundbreaking ideas, someone capable of thinking in an extremely innovative way. It would be wrong for him to think that all this is chance. It is clear that these are clearly thought-out and symbolically charged decisions.
On more than one occasion, it is stressed that the foundations are being laid for the next 10 years and that we are at a turning point in Apple’s technologies. A new cycle.
In general, the developments in OSX are interesting, and affect both the kernel of the operating system and the interface. In the kernel changes, there is a clear interest in making it more portable (MacBook is the world’s best-selling notebook), with an emphasis on saving battery and memory.
From now on, OSX will be the OS of the 21st century laptops. There are some things that I miss, like replacing the current file system with ZFS, but I imagine that is something that most users don’t care too much about.
Old friends don’t forget: MacPro
Something that was of great concern to some users was the future of the Mac Pro. There was no news from Apple, and certain markets, such as video editing, felt neglected. The saddest thing is that this is a market that has traditionally been at Apple’s side, and at the worst times it was one of their lifelines. However, with the overwhelming success of iOS devices and MBAs, it seemed destined to be abandoned.
Just yesterday, talking to a salesman at the Stockton AppStore, he confessed to me that he hadn’t sold a single MacPro in a year…
Soon after finishing the section about OSX Mavericks, Tim warns that he’s going to do something that is not usual for them: they are going to give us a glimpse of something they are preparing. Totally unheard of, it’s clear that the “mavericks” at the helm of the new Apple have their own ideas of how to do things.
It turns out that not only is there a future for the MacPro, but that future is magnificent. The specifications are to remove the hiccups and the design of the new heavyweight apple is totally different from what has been seen so far (I admit I was afraid of another cube ;-).
iOS 7: the biggest change in iOS since the iPhone
We arrive at the main course and what is possibly the main project of the dynamic duo “Cook Ive”: iOS 7. Once again we are faced with a break with the past. The user interface gains a lot in usability and breaks away from past hindrances, such as excessive use of skeumorphism. The rococo look of some Apps is replaced by something cleaner and fresher, being especially remarkable the case of the Game Center.
Contrary to what many predicted, it doesn’t look like the Metro style at all. Instead, iOS 7 has its own unmistakable personality. In addition, there are many jokes about the previous style.
There are also several new features for developers, one of the most striking being the changes to background execution of Apps. The details are not yet clear, and we will have to wait for the sessions of the next days, but it seems that there will be more freedom for those Apps most used by the user.
The Force is still with Apple
Although it has been a very software-centric keynote with relatively few relevant hardware announcements (iPhone 5S or 6?), the changes have been “hard”.
Looking back, last year’s WWDC was one of transition, without major changes, following the inertia of Steve Jobs. Not this one. Clearly, Tim and Jon Ive have taken over the reins of the company and are not afraid of change. This is the WWDC of Tim, Ive and the new Apple… and it looks good .
Tim’s WWDC, Ive and the new Apple…
Interestingly, breaking with the past is how they best preserve the legacy of the past, as Jobs himself asked that they not waste time thinking about “what would Steve Jobs do?” . Tim Cook is not a Gil Amelio, and more reminds of Steve Jobs when he took the reins of the company.
There is a new Apple, and I think it will soon surprise us with great news and results.
Google has certainly pushed the competition hard and done a fantastic job, however, the Force is still with Apple!