The WWDC keynote was yesterday, and they packed a lot of info into their two hour presentation. Apple now develops four distinct software platforms: watchOS, iOS, tvOS, and macOS (nee OS X).
Let's have a look at the changes announced for watchOS and iOS.
The Apple Watch has had a middling critical response. Its apps are too slow, its design is too unfocused, its dev tools are too limited. Apple addressed each and every one of those concerns in turn at WWDC.
FIrst, app speed. With watchOS 3, the Watch will now launch apps up to 7x faster than before. This is done through a new dock design, that pre-caches your "favorite apps" and allows them to update in the background so that whenever it launches, it will have the most up to date information.
The new design also does away with Glances entirely; since pre-caching allows the apps to update faster, you can simply swipe over to the full app within the dock and see the info there. This will make navigation much more straightforward--previously, you swiped down on the watch face to see notifications, and up to see Glances...and long pressed to switch watch faces...and pressed the crown to see all your apps and hunt and peck for apps. It was helter skelter. This streamlines things.
What isn't clear is how apps that aren't designed as favorites will load or experience the same speed increase as favorited apps, and whether the same weird cloud of app icons exists somewhere underneath the new dock.
At the end of the presentation, Kevin Lynch also shoved a lot of new available APIs and tools into two slides that will make native watch apps run much better.
Apple also showed a number of new watch faces, some new fitness capabilities, and an SOS/emergency call feature.
Overall, this is a significant overhaul of one of Apple's more problematic (but also very promising) platforms.
Let's start with the biggest piece of news that wasn't even announced during the keynote: in iOS 10, you'll be able to delete stock apps. I say that only slightly tongue-in-cheek. This may pave the way to allowing users to select their favorite apps as defaults for mail, notes, and other key functions. There isn't any clear indication of that, but it seems far more likely.
Onto the rest.
Apple highlighted 10 new features in their presentation, but there were only three major themes: Siri, redesign, and opening things up to developers.
Siri was the biggest news. Developers will now be able to use Siri to control their app. For apps like Lyft or Uber that really only serve one function (hailing a car), it will largely obviate the need to open the app at all.
It's not clear whether Siri will have the sort of natural language understanding that Google has displayed, like incredibly precise speech recognition and being able to ask follow up questions. But giving the keys to Siri over to third-parties will vastly improve its usefulness.
Redesign was also high on the list.
Apple redesigned News, Music, Photos, and--most importantly--the lock screen and homescreen.
News, Music, Photos, and (especially) Messages got some new features and a fresh coat of paint. But on the lock screen and home screen, they have made possible a whole slew of new interactions.
Notifications will now be much more interactive, allowing several actions from within a notification. Through 3D Touch, an app icon on the homescreen's springboard will now expand into a widget with tons of new info. It's not quite as far of a reimagining as I would have liked (the onus is still on the user, after all), but it's still a marked improvement.
Finally, everyone expected Siri to be opened to developers; no one really foresaw Messages opening up. I'm very interested in seeing how this will be used. It's not bots. It's not AI. But it's something very similar, and could include a road toward both bots and AI, and since it's in conjunction with an App Store, the path to monetization is already clearer than efforts detailed by Microsoft and Facebook.
This was a good WWDC for both watchOS and iOS. Now comes the waiting for the consumer release.