Home > Uncategorized > Quick Reactions to WWDC 2014

Quick Reactions to WWDC 2014

Just some off-the-cuff thoughts.

New “Yosemite” UI
What, new icons and transparent window title bars? Not much there, really. Vaguely pretty, I guess.
I guess the piece of real UI that might make some difference are the changes in Notification Center. Looks like Dashboard is going away and widgets will live there. Frankly, I’ve never like Dashboard so this is probably an improvement.

Oh, and the new Spotlight? Seems nice, I guess, but other than the Wikipedia suggestions, many of us already have very similar functionality with LaunchBar or Alfred. I can’t imagine using a machine without LaunchBar, so I guess this is good for people who aren’t already in on that.

iCloud Drive
File this under “duh.” It sounds a lot like what we used to have with MobileMe’s “iDrive” and what we currently have with Dropbox. Given the relatively small amount of storage, since all photos are now going here, I’m not that excited. I also suspect it’ll be slower than Dropbox. Feels late to the party.

Hooray, real meat! This stuff looked great, and will probably help sell boatloads of Macs. I’m already vested in the all-Apple computing ecosystem, but this will be a real incentive for people who aren’t. And for those of us already there, this just looks sweet.

Tweaks to Mail.app
MailDrop actually looks pretty cool, and since my employer’s mail servers is one of those that blocks large attachments, I’m hoping my friends and collaborators will get this sooner rather than later. Marking up emails seems nice, but what I really want to do is add metadata to my emails—kind of like with MailTags, but one that actually works with the current OS.

Tweaks to OS X Safari
Nice but nothing overwhelming. The “overview all your open tabs” thing is probably the big winner, but that’s “big” in a relative sense—nothing too thrilling here.

OS X Yosemite Redux
Overall, outside of the “Continuity” stuff, pretty underwhelming. What I really hope this means is that Apple has spent more of their engineering effort on quashing bugs, as Mavericks is one of my least favorite OS X versions so far—very flaky in many regards. I really really hope this is where the real effort went.

The iOS 8 stuff generally seemed more significant, but was still nothing overwhelming.

Misc iOS 8 UI stuff
The new predictive keyboard stuff seems mildly clever but not exactly revolutionary. Widgets in Notification Center seem like an upgrade. I don’t do a lot of multi-person SMS so I won’t use those features often, but they do seem really good for people who get into those a lot. I can’t see much use for the in-line audio and video, though. HealthKit strikes me as actually kind of creepy. I’m not sure I’m all that into having my medical data flying around all the time. Changes to Siri seemed pretty trivial, unless of course you speak one of the 22 new languages, in which case it might indeed be a big deal.

This seems like a pretty big deal. One of the big technical drawbacks of Apple so heavily sandboxing everything is that inter-app communication seems pretty limited, and some of the clever system hacks that developers have generated for other Apple systems haven’t found their way to iOS. This has always struck me as correct, as the last thing I want is a crashy phone. However, if Apple thinks they’ve found a way to get back at least some of that in a safe way, I’m all for it. I’m looking forward to seeing what developers can do with this.

Family Sharing
Greatest idea since sliced bread? Well, probably not, but a very good one, and I’m looking forward to it. We’ll see how easy it really is to configure, but I think this is going to be a win.

Under the Hood Developer Stuff
New APIs are always good; the Extensibility stuff I already mentioned was the most interesting, but I’m sure some of the other new stuff will be good, too. The second-most interesting is “Metal,” Apple’s new… well, I’m not sure exactly what to call it—graphics accelerator engine? I’m not a huge video gamer or anything, but the notion of console-level games running on A7 hardware is certainly interesting from the perspective of the next generation of Apple TV.

Warning: computer programmer geek alert.

Closures? Generics? REPL? Namespaces? Multiple return values?

Looking at the trajectory of C to C++ to Java to Python it has long been my contention that eventually the dominant computer language will simply be Common Lisp but without the parenthesis-based syntax that many people (myself not included, though) dislike.

That’s sure what Swift sounds like to me: all the Lisp language features, but with procedural syntax.

I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

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