Apple opened its annual World Wide Developer's Conference (WWDC) this year as it has done for years. The keynote this year was notably absent of quite as much flash and pizazz as one would normally expect. It seemed to be directed even more strongly than years past towards Developers. I guess it makes sense since it is after all a "Developer's Confernce".
Despite the lack of "amazing" new consumer features, this year's WWDC was the most exciting one to date.
I've tried to be platform-agnostic for years##
My first Apple product was an iPod I got around 2006. Since I bought my first iPhone in 2009 and my Macbook Pro in 2011, I've grown to quickly love Apple products.
Even so, I've tried to be platform agnostic as much as possible.
A few years ago I started using Linux. I've been using Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X all in tandem for awhile. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. But lately I'm having trouble finding a compelling reason to use Windows.
I can edit documents on any platform that supports a browser. Every platform has a browser. Apple has a well-integrated eco-system of products that work well together with killer interface and fantastic support. Linux is really flexible and customizable. And Windows? Windows is... the default. Or was. Windows 8 is awful. Windows 7 is a great Operating System, but compared to the innovation that Apple is fostering with its Operating System, Microsoft is just coasting along, adding a new shiny coat of paint every few years.
Why Apple might lure me away from Windows once and for all##
Apple is excellent at what they do. I know plenty of people that have an unwavering hatred for Apple's products. I've heard some refer to their MacBook Pro's as "expensive coasters". But this is an empty claim. Apple's products are second-to-none.
Apple dominates the smartphone, tablet and PC market in customer satisfaction. Their products are regularly rated as not just great, but the best of their respective categories. While Apple used to be the 'niche' computer to buy a few years ago, Apple's products have completely overtaken traditional laptops and desktops.
The reasons not to get an Apple device (other than price) have been rapidly diminshing for years. Apple transitioned to Intel-based architecture starting in 2005. Many, many games are now available on Mac that previously weren't. More and more games are either starting off cross-platform, or made for Apple first, thanks to their ridiculously huge App-store.
Now don't get me wrong. Apple products aren't perfect. I'm certainly not saying that. But compared to other products they hit it out of the park in almost every way.
This year Apple announced something that's going to be a game-changer for the Apple eco-system: Continuity.
Like usual, Apple talks about the concept as if it invented something new. When it comes to "continuity" apple certainly didn't come up with the idea. What Apple is doing with this concept though, is something entirely new and potentially game-changing.
The boundaries between devices don't matter anymore. All your files, documents, and applications (for the most part) are accessible wherever you are. Use whatever device best suits your needs in the current time and place without missing a beat.
Of course, this new technology is yet to be proven and won't be without caveat or blemish. Even so, this concept turns the computing completely on its head.
Devices won't feel so isolated from one another anymore. You won't have to contort yourself to get photos off your smartphone into that document you've been working on. No need to email yourself that link for the web page, just pull up your browser to view the video in HD. These examples probably just barely scratch the surface of the possibiltiies.
Swift: A literal Developer's playground
While some bemoan Apple for introducing what is yet another proprietary language that Developers will have to learn, I think its an incredibly smart move.
I've spent some time with Swift, and have been very impressed with how user-friendly the XCode playground tool is, how simple the language is to pick up, and how easy it is to write in.
Swift, as well as the huge APIs and changes made to Apple's platforms, signals something very important that no other company is managing to do. Apple has made development across all its platforms highly lucrative, easy to do, and more accessible than ever.
While Apple certainly has a sort of "cult following", the appeal for developing for Apple far outreaches the diehard fan. Apple's products have impeccable quality, and its documentation is more robust, understandable, and complete than any documentation I've seen for any other platform or technology.
The Start of a New Era
Apple is often put down for the perceived slow pace of their innovation and their failure to pick up a lot of common-sense features in a timely manner. I won't defend them here. They take their time, often to a fault.
Their upgrade cycles for hardware also tend to be hampered by the obnoxiously stingy rationing of new and exciting features, sometimes making the company seem like it is just treading water.
This couldn't be farther from the truth though.
Apple builds quality products and innovates in a way that the rest of the industry could only dream of. While the company may be overly preoccupied with progressively thinning out their products and bumping up their processor speeds in small steps, Apple has consistently released both software and hardware that is extremely usable and innovative in the right ways.
With the new techonlogy that Apple is releasing now, they are taking their ecosystem to a level that has never been achieved before. The innovation their platform will promote by reaching more Developers than ever before, and equipping them with tools to develop faster, utilizing new troves of data and enabling a new level of interactivity between both devices and applications in a way that is unprecedented.
Apple doesn't make all the right choices, and doesn't have the monopoly on innovation, but they've built an ecosystem of products that provide a comprehensive user experience that is simply without equal. What is coming on the horizon is hard to tell, but one thing is for sure, its going to be amazing.