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WWDC 2016 Keynote Recap

Even in the post-Steve Jobs era, Apple keynotes seldom disappoint, and this year’s presentation was no exception. But in the company’s continuing efforts to engage with the world outside the tech industry, CEO Tim Cook led off with an acknowledgment of the horrific shooting in Orlando, calling it “a senseless, unconscionable act of terrorism and hate, aimed at dividing and destroying.” Then he asked the audience to rise and join him in a moment of silence. It was a tasteful move, and a heartfelt one.

After that, Cook ran through some numbers, noting that there are now 13 million developers writing for Apple platforms. The iOS App Store now boasts 2 million apps, and Apple says it has paid $50 billion to developers. On the other end of the spectrum, Apple was happy to announce that there are now over 6000 apps for the Apple TV.

We were chatting during the keynote with more than 60 people in the #events channel of SlackBITS where there was some snark about how broadly that $50 billion has been distributed. (It might be somewhat disjointed, but you could mimic the experience by watching the video while scrolling through the discussion. SlackBITS has almost 600 members now; feel free to join us!)

With no new hardware announced, the rest of the keynote focused on forthcoming updates to Apple’s four operating systems: OS X, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Wait, did I say OS X? No longer, because with the next release, Apple is renaming it macOS to match its siblings. It will undoubtedly take everyone a while to become accustomed to the name change, but we’re in favor of it, both for consistency reasons and because we were unhappy when Apple dropped the “Mac” in “Mac OS X” during the days of Lion. It’s the Mac’s operating system, so Mac should be in the name. Although macOS will still have a version number (10.12), Apple is also continuing with its recent practice of using California-based names, so the full name will be macOS 10.12 Sierra, which we’ll start abbreviating once it becomes well recognized.

Speaking of macOS 10.12 Sierra, I wrote about it in “macOS 10.12 Sierra to Succeed OS X 10.11 El Capitan” (13 June 2016), but it will be most notable for adding support for Siri, enhancing Photos with automatic recognition technologies, and enabling Apple Pay for the Web so you can pay via Safari. To integrate the Mac more deeply into Apple’s ecosystem, you’ll be able to auto-unlock your Mac when you’re wearing an Apple Watch (finally!), copy and paste between all your Apple devices, and access everything in your Desktop and Documents folders on any device via iCloud Drive. Lower-level features include Optimized Storage, which automatically frees up space on your Mac by uploading rarely used files to the cloud; tab support in all apps; and picture-in-picture support for those who just have to watch videos while working.

If that sounds like a lot, sit down, since iOS 10 promises even bigger changes. In keeping with the version number, Apple showed off ten notable changes that Josh Centers covered in “iOS 10 Promises New Lock Screen, Open Siri, and More” (13 June 2016). For here, suffice to say that iOS 10 will:

  1. Radically improve the lock screen experience
  2. Open Siri up to developers
  3. Offer better typing suggestions
  4. Enhance Photos
  5. Give Maps significantly more capabilities
  6. Redesign the Music app
  7. Add subscriptions to a redesigned News app
  8. Extend the capabilities of HomeKit for home automation
  9. Add voicemail transcription for phone calls
  10. Build all sorts of fancy effects into Messages

In some ways, the most compelling update is watchOS 3, which is vastly faster, adds more watch faces with more complications, and simplifies replying to messages, as explained by Tonya Engst in “Why watchOS 3 Will Be Nimble and Nifty” (13 June 2016). In two changes familiar from iOS, the side button will now display the Dock, which you can configure with your most-used apps, and swiping up from the bottom of the screen shows Control Center. Pressing and holding on the side button brings up an SOS screen for making an emergency call. Apple has improved the popular Timer app, and the Activity app now offers activity sharing and gains awareness of the activity of wheelchair users. A new app called Breathe helps users relax with deep-breathing exercises.

Rounding out the platform updates, tvOS 10 enhances its support for Siri, brings single sign-on for apps that require cable or satellite subscriptions, and adds a dark mode for those who find the brightness of the interface visually painful. Julio Ojeda-Zapata covered those changes in “tvOS 10 to Get Improved Siri, Single Sign-on, iOS Remote App” (13 June 2016). A new iOS Remote app can do everything the Siri Remote can, including work with Siri, navigate the interface, and act as a game controller. Finally, if you get an iOS app with an Apple TV version, it will download automatically, saving you a search in the Apple TV App Store.

For each of these new operating systems, developer previews are available now, with the free public releases slated for “this fall.” That’s likely to mean sometime in September or October, and given how integrated these systems are with one another, it’s likely they’ll all be out at the same time. (Take Control authors, start your keyboards!) Both macOS 10.12 Sierra and iOS 10 will have public betas starting in July, if you want to give them a spin.

Finally, it’s worth noting that this keynote had the most diverse set of presenters ever, most of whom did at least as good a job as Apple’s white male executives. That emphasis on diversity was bolstered by a video of Apple developers that showcased developers around the world. And, as long as we’re talking about gender equality, watchOS 3 adds a Minnie Mouse watch face. Like most tech companies, Apple’s employees, particularly among engineers and executives, may not be as diverse as the company’s customers, but it’s great to see the company making an effort to include women and minorities prominently.


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Comments about WWDC 2016 Keynote Recap
(Comments are closed.)

David Morrison  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2016-06-14 00:14
lol I wouldn't have thought of a mouse as a minority user of Apple Watch!
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-06-14 10:36
The Apple Watch now has gender equality in its cartoon characters. ;-)
Miro Lucassen  2016-06-14 02:32
The second part of this sentence is somewhat disappointing imho - why the white view of this planet:
Finally, it’s worth noting that this keynote had the most diverse set of presenters ever, most of whom did at least as good a job as Apple’s white male executives.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-06-14 10:36
I'm really not sure what your criticism is. The bit of text you quote is not referring to the planet, it's referring to the technology industry in general and to Apple's executive team in specific, both of which are overwhelmingly white and male.
George Chase  2016-06-14 12:29
I read this morning that iOS 10 will not be supporting devices over 4 yrs old. Is that correct? Is Apple saying their stuff has a diminished life expectancy? Maybe replace the "white male executives" with black turtle necks.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-06-14 13:55
No, what you heard is wrong. As I said in the full article about macOS Sierra, it will support some Macs back to 2009 and the rest back to 2010.
B. Jefferson Le Blanc  2016-06-14 20:20
I like the OS X name change, too. I've gotten more than tired explaining to people that the X in the name refers to the Roman Numeral "ten," not to an "x." MacOS is a bit cryptic, but still an improvement.

As for the new features, how exactly will you use Apple Pay in Safari?

Siri in OS X (macOS) is long overdue.

Copy and Paste between devices will be a big deal—once people figure out how to use it (no doubt it will use iCloud).

Accessing your Desktop and Documents folders on other devices will also be too cool for school. Then, again, I wonder how this will work, accessing stuff in a file system centric OS in iOS, which does not include an accessible file system. That will be a neat trick indeed.

But I have my doubts about Optimized Storage. What if you need that stuff when you don't have Internet access? And what about security? Is iCloud Drive safer than, say, Twitter? Hopefully it will be an optional feature you can do without if you don't want or need it.

Maybe some of my questions will be answered when I have time to read your article on macOS. ?

And, finally, I hope all this stuff works better than the new features in Yosemite did. OS X 10.10 set a bad precedent for Apple ineptitude. They're still pushing these things out too fast. We'll see if Apple learned anything from the Yosemite experience, or if quality control is still a missing feature of the Apple design and development process.
J. A. Duke  2016-06-15 10:20
While I’m sure the Optimized Storage will use iCloud, I’m hoping someone develops a method that would allow one to use a NAS for the same purpose.

I’ve got terabytes of free space on my home NASen and would love to have data from specific folders automatically archived there.

I know I can do a backup, but I don’t think I can specify data downloaded (using the date of download, not the file creation or modification date) more than 6 months ago for my downloads folder. I don’t know of any tool out there that will handle this task. Does anyone else know of one?

I used to archive all of that onto floppies, back in the day.


I couldn't agree more.

I have a Mac mini running at home I already use to store some of my files and to access them remotely.

All Apple would have to do is release an iCloud Server app. Let people be their own cloud. No need to trust Apple or any other company with my personal data when I could be trusting myself.

Alas, that would be about empowering people, catering to more savvy users, and not about monetization by selling services. I have a hunch which one the new Apple favors.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-06-15 16:02
For a personal cloud, you can get a Transporter:

Or use BitTorrent Sync on all your Macs:

Personally, I'm quite dubious about Optimized Storage as well. I understand the motivation behind it, but after what Apple has done with some of the cloud-based services, I'd have a hard time trusting it until others had tested it hard. If Dropbox introduced such a thing, I'd be more likely to give it a try.

I find that it's easy enough to manage my own data, moving big stuff off to an external drive or server as need be.
B. Jefferson Le Blanc  2016-06-19 15:00
Ideally one could use any external storage, not just a NAS. The more possible destinations the better. Perhaps you should check with Bombich Software to see if they would consider adding a time sensitive criterion to the backup options in Carbon Copy Cloner. There are many backup utilities out there, but CCC is the gold standard, in my opinion.
Anonymous  2016-06-15 22:15
sure hope all that emoji bling in messages is optional and can be disabled or the app deleted ....
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-06-16 10:12
I very much doubt the app can be deleted, but the simple fact about the emoji and the rest of these features is that you don't have to use them. You can't stop others from using them, but I'm guessing that if you really dislike such things, your main correspondents will as well.
starosta  2016-06-17 00:19
Not that long ago... well, okay, twenty years ago, Apple changed the name of the OS from "System" to "Mac OS" which stuck until OS X came out three or four years later. Even then it was "Mac OS X."

So we've come full circle, it seems.