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  • The WWDC Aftermath — The Disconnect Continues

    June 23rd, 2016

    In the world of politics, there’s such a thing as fact-checking. When a politician says something that’s clearly false, or at least misleading, there are reporters who will pounce on those statements and correct them. Despite the corrections, most political figures usually don’t bother to change their stories, or if they do, the change is filled with excuses.

    Well, perhaps the same applies to Apple’s critics. No matter how often their opinions or conclusions are shown to be erroneous, they just repeat them. When it comes to click bait, facts just do not matter.

    So there are continued complaints about Apple’s alleged walled garden, the decision not to license operating systems to other companies, and, in general, Apple after Steve Jobs.

    One of the more foolish claims you see is that Steve Jobs would never have done thus and so. Most of these people only knew Jobs on the basis of what they read; they probably never met him, and if they did, they didn’t spend much in the way of quality time with him. I can tell you that I met Steve Jobs twice over the years. I talked to him for a few minutes, casual conversations, and that was it. I had no greater insight into his personality except to agree with those who said he could be abrupt, particularly with people he didn’t know.

    On the other hand, Jobs reportedly made a big deal of telling his chosen successor never to ask what he might do in any particular situation. Besides, what Jobs might have done in 2010 might not at all apply in 2016, where the issues at hand, the company’s standing and that of the industry, might be totally different.

    Now when it comes to a WWDC, far too many alleged tech and financial pundits just don’t get it! Consider the letter “D” in that acronym. It stands for “Developers,” which obviously refers to people who are creating software for one of Apple’s platforms. Despite the implicit purpose of the conference, there are constant complaints whenever new hardware isn’t announced.

    It is true that new hardware is sometimes demonstrated. Some new Macs, such as  Mac Pro, that workstation that caters to power users, scientists and content creators, have been launched at a WWDC. But hardware is not a normal part of the agenda.

    That takes us to the software. So one prominent alleged tech pundit complained there wasn’t anything significant, focusing the main part of his complaints on Siri. It’s easy to take the simplistic approach and complain that Microsoft got there first, in 2015, when Cortana debuted on Windows 10. But that doesn’t reflect on voice recognition features and accuracy. Clearly loads of improvements are promised for Siri on all Apple platforms, and part of that appears due to the technology the company acquired when it bought out VocalIQ last year.

    When macOS Sierra, iOS 10 and the other OS are released, it will be perfectly fair to pit the Siri update against Google Now, Cortana and Amazon Echo. May the best voice assistant win, but certainly not now. Any comparison that includes beta versions will be quite unfair, since they likely have bugs and performance glitches.

    But what about all those improvements to watchOS 3, and how they overhaul the user experience? You didn’t know that? I’m not an Apple Watch user, but Apple’s site and media outlets that cover Apple have detailed the changes and improvements. Many of the complaints about performance and usability appear to have been addressed. Articles about the beta are promising. The third time does appear to be a charm.

    iOS 10 also appears to benefit from a large number of significant changes, more than you’d find in any Android OS upgrade. Of course, it doesn’t matter so much with Android, since only a small number of users will have a chance to upgrade, at least in the first or second year. From Notifications to the fancier Messages, there’s a lot of meat to digest. To just ignore them doesn’t make any sense, unless the writer didn’t bother checking.

    With macOS Sierra, I find the arrival of Siri to be of less importance, because I’m not much of a Siri user on my iPhone. For me, it’s mostly about setting alarms, but I will try some of the other features and see if I can take to them. Not so far the Mac, where I did spend a few moments with the beta trying it out. Let’s just say that I will wait for it to be fine-tuned a little bit more.

    For some, Sierra’s Optimized Storage feature might be a revolution. If you’re Mac’s drive is running out of space, this new feature can move unused stuff to your iCloud Drive. Of course, you’ll need enough storage to accommodate all those files, and that means, for most of you, buying extra storage will be essential. If you want to share your Desktop and Documents folder too, expect to require even more storage. I’d like to see Apple enlarge the free space from 5GB to 25GB or 50GB, and lower the prices for additional storage. As it is, nobody will be able to use these features without an iCloud Drive upgrade.

    For the Mac, Apple is focusing on productivity and convenience. Yes, a fancier Messages will be just what the doctor ordered for some; ditto for the enhanced facial recognition and other new Photos features.

    The real hope is that all the new OS enhancements will arrive this fall without lots of glitches. That’s a tall order, and Apple has a mediocre record with initial releases. But that record, such as it is, is still far better than Google or Microsoft can claim. So I remain ever hopeful.



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