Quick Takes from the WWDC Keynote

Like most of you, I’ve been following Apple’s WWDC announcements today. I’ve watched the keynote and likely will watch it again tomorrow, taking more detailed notes before David and I record a special WWDC wrap-up episode of Mac Power Users later this week. Before the news becomes too stale, I wanted to offer a few quick thoughts from today’s announcements.

  • There was much more released today than could fit in the keynote. More information will trickle out this week as WWDC goes on. I’m trying to save the most relevant articles to my Reading List so you may want to check back for updates.
  • Perhaps my favorite stealth update was the new newMagic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad. I’ve been begging Apple to release an extended wireless keyboard for years and today they finally did. I’ve been very happy with my trusty Logitech K750 which is very similar to the newly-announced keyboard at a fraction of the price. But when the time comes, I’ll likely be upgrading to Apple’s new keyboard.
  • None of the big features about watchOS 4 particularly thrilled me. I suspect we’ll see new hardware in the fall and there’s likely more coming that can be announced until then.
  • Seriously, “High Sierra”? Am I going to have to say this on a podcast repeatedly and to people in public? <sigh>
  • Hardware updates to the Mac line were most welcome. As expected the MacBooks, iMacs, MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs all saw processor upgrades, graphics boosts, and memory bumps. It was nice of Apple to let us know they still remembered the Mac.
  • As for the announced iMac Pro, it's clear this is what they intended to be a Mac Pro replacement until they pivoted and decided to build a new Mac Pro after all. No word on that machine since their press briefing a few months ago. While the iMac Pro is a very powerful machine and will likely fill the gap for many developers, it still has a fundamental flaw in that the system is not upgradable. We’ll see how this compares to the forthcoming Mac Pro.
  • Apple Pay updates sound great. There was a mention in the keynote that Apple Pay will be accepted at 50% of retailers next year. Given the number of local places I can use Apple Pay that seems like a bold assertion, but one I’d like to see happy. Additionally, person-to-person Apple Pay will come in very useful. To make this work, Apple has created their own “Apple Cash” card that makes funds available for use with ApplePay or transferred to a Bank Account. While this will likely be used for fairly small “settling up” transactions. I’m curious to hear the details of any fees involved and how taxes and reporting are handled, particularly if this is used for larger transactions.
  • I love the Do Not Disturb when driving feature. This is a feature that has the potential to prevent accidents and save lives. I see so many distracted drivers on the road today and many of them are playing with their cell phones. I will be turning it on, I hope others will too.
  • Siri improvements are always welcome. Not as much time in the keynote was devoted to this as I would have liked. Hopefully, more will come out on developer access as the week unfolds.
  • Apple really hit it out of the park with the iPad features in iOS 11. This was the update we were hoping for and I can’t wait to try it. I will probably install the first public beta (which tends to be a little more stable) on my iPad when it’s released later in the month.
  • The 10.5" iPad is tempting. In fact, right after the keynote, I was ready to order one. However, the reality distortion field has dissipated a bit. While more screen real estate and storage are nice, for me the biggest upgrade to the iPad will be the iOS 11 software. It is hard to justify buying a new device and all new accessories when I have a perfectly good iPad Pro now.
  • The HomePod leaves me a bit perplexed. As we’ve already established, I’m not someone who spends a lot of time listening to music. I have nicer AudioEngine speakers I use when I want to “rock out” and all my other speakers are Bluetooth devices, including the Amazon Echo, which has always been “good enough”. Dropping $350 on a premium Apple Speaker with the idea of likely expanding to multiple speakers for the house is not appealing and one of the reasons I never bought into a Sonos System. To me, the appeal is as a home assistant and thus far those features seem to be no more advanced than the current Echo. Though this is a device that is still 6 months away, so plenty of time for more to come.