Between June 5 and June 9, Apple is holding its annual worldwide developer conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California.
For one week, more the 5,000 developers from more than 70 countries get to meet and discover new features that Apple has been working on over the past 12 months, both in hardware and software.
In case you don't know, the first day is always kicked off with a presentation called the "Keynote", during which Tim Cook, (the CEO) and his team paint a picture of what is coming up in the world of Apple.
This more than 2 hours long session was jam-packed with information about the next versions of the operating system running on Apple Watch, the Apple TV, the Mac, iPhone & iPad, as well as new and upgraded hardware.
The purpose of this blog post is not to give you the most complete coverage of this event, so don't be surprised if you don't see some of the announcements.
If you're interested, the June 5 Keynote and all its announcements are available at https://www.apple.com/apple-events
If you have an Apple TV, you could also watch the keynote from the comfort of your living room and if you'd like to go even further, you can install the WWDC app on your iPhone & iPad and watch the sessions that have been recorded during the whole week.
Because I understand that you may not have the time to watch this keynote, I've prepared a short summary with my 3 main takeaways:
- Apple has not forgotten its pro customer base
- iOS 11 will be a cornerstone version for iPad productivity
- The developer community is more diverse and vibrant than ever
1. Apple has not forgotten its "pro" customer base
If you're a little bit familiar with the history of Apple as a company, you know that part of its success is coming from the adoption of the platform by creative people (graphic designers, publicists, etc.).
With the latest Mac Pro line of computers that wasn't updated for almost three years, abandoning software like Aperture and questionable design and specification decisionstaken for the release of the MacBook Pro with TouchBar, part of the blogosphere started to question whether Apple was still interested in serving professionals.
Well, not only did Apple show that they are embracing new technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), but they've demonstrated their commitment to offer appropriately specced computers for people whose job it is to create content and applications in the world of AR & VR.
The best example is the new 27-inch 5K Retina iMac Pro which will be more powerful than the current top of the line Mac Pro.
Apple being Apple, they're differentiating this superb machine by offering it in space grey finish, including for the new wireless keyboard, trackpad and mouse.
Combining this with partnerships with key actors in the gaming industry, the message to professionnal customers was heard loud and clear:
If you want the best computer to create the AR & VR hits of tomorrow, come to Apple!
2. iOS 11 will be a cornerstone version for iPad productivity
I wasn't much impressed with the next release of macOS which will be called macOS High Sierra.
Similarly to Snow Leopard and Mountain Lion that succeeded respectively, Leopard and Lion, it looks like macOS High Sierra will mainly offer stability improvements and under-the-hood functionalities.
Since they could not show everything during the Keynote, I expect that we'll discover more features as the beta versions get released.
This is why I've decided not to include it in my highlights and focus instead on the next version of the operating system powering our iPhones & iPads, iOS 11.
Let's start with what grabbed my attention in general and later on dive into what has been specifically introduced for iPad.
The keyword that was repeated several times during the keynote was Machine Learning (ML).
Machine Learning is the capability for the operating system to do tasks in the background so that it becomes better at predicting what the user will be doing or at offering the most pertinent information at the right time and in the right context.
For example, face recognition and categorisation of photos will be much faster than before, and new features, like handwriting recognition will allow us to search and find text written with our finger.
By giving the developers a way to hook into the ML capabilities of iOS, other apps will soon offer capabilities that will undoubtedly make our digital life on iPhone and iPad easier and more pleasant.
Talking about simplification, Control Center has been improved and all the buttons will be more readily available and thus require less gestures.
Apart from improvements with respect to Live Photos, Apple didn't talk much about the new Photos app, so I'm eager to install the public betas as soon as they become available to see what's coming that could help us better manage our photos.
If you have a spare device and would like to test iOS 11 before its official release next September, head over to https://beta.apple.com/sp/betaprogram/ for more information.
Let's dive into what will transform the iPad into a real laptop replacement contender:
- Window management
- File management
- Drag & drop
With iOS 11, split screen is reaching a whole new level.
Not only do we have more flexibility about where to position the different apps, but like on the Mac, the iPad will create spaces holding previous configurations (like mail & safari side-by-side for instance).
In addition, the dock, that we know and love on macOS, is becoming a reality on iPad too.
This is huge because it will be easier than ever to quickly switch between applications and to arrange windows on the screen.
Next comes a new app called Files and which is like Finder but specifically tailored to iOS.
Don't expect to suddenly have access to the intricacies of the underlying folder structure of the entire operating system on your iPad though.
Instead, see it as a quick and convenient way to access files stored on the various cloud providers in town, including iCloud Drive, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and many more.
Like on macOS, you'll be able to pin favorite folders in the sidebar and even be able to tag files, like you do on a Mac.
There will be a Recent view that filters all the recently accessed or modified files regardless of where they're stored.
Finally, iOS 11 for iPad will offer the possibility to drag & drop images, text, links and even files between applications.
What's even better is that it will support multiple selections out of the box.
I can't wait to test this new feature on my iPad Mini 4 🙂
3. The developer community is more diverse and vibrant than ever
The youngest participant in the room was a 10 years old boy from Australia and the oldest, a woman named Masako from Japan was 82, both of them have published apps in the App Store.
Nowadays, it's less a boy thing too and developers now come from all walks of life and can express their creativity from anywhere in the world.
What a blast to witness how quickly children, as young as 6 years old, pick up new concepts and realise that coding is not rocket science.
In fact, during the iPad coding workshops that I organise, children start programming their own game during the second afternoon.
Having talked with other adults about this initiative, some of them expressed interest in learning how to code themselves.
If this is your case too, just let me know in the comments section below.
Indeed, I could definitely organise coding workshops for adults if there is enough demand for it.
In summary, Apple recognises that to be a major player in the AR & VR industry, it needs to offer hardware competitive enough to entice developers and professionals to adopt or stay on macOS.
Second, iOS 11 will greatly simplify our digital life, especially on iPad and will make me think twice about which option to pursue when it'll be time to replace my MacBook Air.
Finally, I believe there's never been a better time than now to start learning how to code, even without the intention to publish an app to the app Store.
And you, have you watched the Keynote?
Among all the announcements, which one are you the most excited about?