June 9, 2015

∴ Thoughts on 2015 WWDC

I watched Apple’s live stream of their 2015 Worldwide Developer’s Conference keynote presentation at home yesterday, while recuperating from surgery. While my thoughts on what I heard and saw are my own, they’re intermediated by a significant dose of pain medication. Maybe they’re flat-out wrong, so take this with a grain of salt.

I wasn’t all that impressed. Not like in past years, when new features were debuted for iOS and OS X that extended those operating systems’ capabilities and ease of use. Worse, the debut this year of Apple Music was pretty much the fulfillment of what I dreaded about Apple’s acquisition of Beats: the introduction of schlock culture into Apple’s mainline product offerings. I half-expected to see “turntablist” extraordinaire Dr. Dre slide out on a platform for a live performance.

Several tech writers in the audience actively wondered whether the presentation was still going on. It had a distinct “after dark” feel to it, if you know that podcasting term.

And I still have no idea why I should pay for Apple Music.

Other sites, such as Federico Viticci’s MacStories, are recounting highlights of what was presented. Still others will dig deeper over the next few days. I’ll read through those with a known thoughtful track record. I have an idea about the event, though.

Perhaps what threw me was not so much a lack of content, but rather the implication that Apple will spend the next cycle of OS X and iOS production partly in a “Snow Leopard pause.” I hope this is the case.

Let me explain that phrase. At each step of my recent medical work the doctor, nurse or team that was about to lay hands on me paused and asked for my full name, date of birth and description of what we were doing. I had to give a positive, correct answer before work continued. That professional pause made sure the medical team was all on the same page, taking the same thoughtful, concerted action.

When Apple announced in 2009 that Snow Leopard, their 10.6 version of OS X, had no new customer-facing features, what they were really doing was taking a professional pause to repair, improve and update what they already had in place. There was a lot of under-the-hood change involved. The result was a tighter, less buggy and more functional operating system.

It doesn’t wow the crowds to do this. It doesn’t impress shareholders. It would, however, please and impress those of us who’ve been saddened to watch the quality of OS X and iOS slide as new features and UI design were brought to market over the past two years.

Again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I was simply drug-addled yesterday, and what Apple announced was amazeballs. I hope that’s not the case, though. I hope yesterday’s underwhelming roll-out was a simple return to modest updates rolled out alongside significantly more effort going to features and software consumers will never directly see. An under-the-hood code review, reboot, tweaking, call-it-what-you-will.

Apple product users have only to gain if that’s so.

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