WWDC 2013: What we didn’t get

WWDC-Moscone-West

Just like on Christmas Day, when all of the presents have been unwrapped, and the dust has settled, we are left to think about what we didn’t get. This list doesn’t sting me as much as last year’s, because iOS 7 didn’t disappoint my expectations the way that iOS 6 did. If anything, it was a more expansive update than most realistic tech reporters and analysts were initially expecting. However, there are still some features that had either been rumored, or that I brought up in my iOS 7 Crystal Ball series that either weren’t addressed, or that we haven’t heard about yet. Let’s take a look.

1. Maps

maps-logoThis one was a bit of a shock to me. After the huge mess that Maps, which was originally announced at WWDC 2012, became, I really expected to hear Tim Cook or Eddy Cue talk about the steps that they’re taking to make it better. Instead, all we heard about regarding Maps was that it’s coming to OS X Mavricks, and that it will seamlessly share information with iOS devices.

I personally felt that Apple needed to step up and demonstrate their long-term commitment to this app and service in this, one of their biggest public events. However, after seeing the keynote, I can understand why they waited. This presentation was pretty strong, almost defiant, in tone from start to finish. Apple seemed like they had something to prove today. That they aren’t washed up. That the company is still capable of stepping up to the plate when it matters. Phil Schiller summed up that sentiment pretty well in his segment on the new Mac Pro, saying “Can’t innovate anymore, my ass.” It was clear to me that the folks working at Infinite Loop have been reading the reviews and the press clippings.

With that said, it seemed to me that a mea culpa on Maps in the middle of today’s presentation would have seemed pretty disjointed. Talking about the issues with Maps didn’t fit the tone they were trying to strike. I have a feeling that they will either have a small press event to talk about Maps before the Fall launch of the iPhone (if there’s a major acquisition or partnership), or they will just handle it at the launch event. Either way, we will hear something about Maps in the not too distant future.

2. Messaging Integration

iMessage-for-iOS-5.pngWe got a redesigned Messages client. We also got a new Voice over FaceTime feature, allowing us to make voice-only calls over WiFi. However, Apple didn’t mention anything about bringing all of this together in a meaningful way. In such a big redesign, that seems like a missed opportunity. It’s pretty obvious that the new look of iOS 7 is more than just skin deep, and probably took a mammoth amount of effort, so there probably just wasn’t time for such a thing. Maybe next year.

 

3. Documents and iCloud

icloud-logo-smallApple made a big deal about the release of the new iWork in the Cloud, which is great for iWork users who don’t want to be tied to a single device to work on their documents. However, Apple didn’t say anything about changes to the way documents are shared or stored in iOS devices. Other than the fact we should be able to AirDrop files between devices and share with other nearby users, it doesn’t look much has changed.

There also wasn’t any news on enhanced app restore capabilities or better handling for multiple devices on a single account. That could come up at the Fall launch event, but probably not. As for the broken Core Data Sync feature, we should hear news on that, one way or the other, from developers as WWDC wears on. If Apple hasn’t done anything to overhaul it yet, we’ll know.

4. Notification Center

ios-7-notification-center

There were actually a LOT of changes made to Notification Center in iOS 7. We just didn’t get quite everything that I heard users ask for. There wasn’t a Clear All button to get rid of old notifications, and they are still grouped by app, just like before. However, the Today and Missed views are definitely huge improvements over the original. Apple also did away with the old separate Lockscreen notification support, and just ported the full Notification Center over. Much better.

The biggest disappointment for me was that there was no mention of actionable notifications. It looks like we still can’t respond to messages or perform actions on reminders or alarms from the notification itself. With the interface coming so far in one update, this feature is what I’ll miss the most. It would have been killer, added on top of the new iOS 7 visuals.

5. Apple TV

Barely a peep. The only mentions of the platform had to do with the enhanced multi-display support in OS X- Mavricks, and its compatibility with iTunes Radio. Nothing about AirPlay enhancements, apps, or gaming. Hopefully we’ll hear more in the Fall. Hey, at least Apple gave us integrated 3rd Party game controller support, so that’s a step in the right direction. Just make it compatible with Apple TV, and either open it up to apps, or fix AirPlay Mirroring, and we’re really getting somewhere.

6. Rich Text Support

I’ve wanted to see this come to iOS for three years running. If it were, it would have been announced today, since it is a feature that developers would need to be aware of. Maybe next year.

7. Enhanced Bluetooth Keyboard Support

I still hold out some hope for this one. Considering that the iPad version of the beta isn’t ready, and that we didn’t see any examples of it, there is a chance that some iPad specific features could be unveiled at a Fall device launch.

8. Integrated support for Flickr and Vimeo

Considering Apple’s growing distaste for Google, I was actually expecting to see this rumored announcement happen. Considering that Photo Stream isn’t a permanent photo archive solution, and that the Google+ app has become very popular if for no other reason than it will automatically back up photos and videos for free, Flickr makes a lot of sense. Also, supplementing Google’s YouTube, which is currently the only video upload solution included in iOS, with Vimeo seemed plausible. I guess Apple figured they would stop at using Bing for Siri web search.  Oops! While this little item wasn’t mentioned on stage at the keynote, it turns out that Flickr and Vimeo ARE integrated into iOS 7. They operate exactly the same as Facebook and Twitter. So, we did actually get this one. Thanks, Apple. But, how about you at least put this on the grab bag slide at the end of the presentation next time.

 

These are just a small selection of what I’m sure are hundreds of things, both big and small, that users wanted to see today, but didn’t. That’s the way the cookie crumbles, I guess. We don’t always get what we want. However, like I said at the outset, I’m not upset as I am writing this post this year. It’s all about perspective for me right now.

Looking at the UI redesign of iOS 7, I see Jony Ive’s fingerprints all over the place. Considering that he has only been in his current role at the head of Apple’s UI design for seven months, you have to wonder, what did iOS 7 look like before that? Bear in mind that a new mobile OS version would already be in the design phase before the current gen is out of beta, and then ask that question again. You have to wonder, did Apple just completely re-work what was going to be iOS 7? Or, did they completely throw it out and start over?

When I heard the increasingly mentioned rumors about an iOS redesign, I kept this timeline in the back of my mind. Because of this, I actually had more modest expectations for iOS 7. I honestly didn’t think the UI changes would be this sweeping. I just didn’t think seven months was long enough to completely re-invent the look of iOS. I was expecting a makeover, not cosmetic surgery.

With all this in mind, I’m not disappointed because of the things we didn’t get this year. In fact, for the first time in the last two years, I have real hope that we will see even more pervasive changes next year. The iOS 7 redesign threw out a lot of UI conventions and elements that have been part of the platform since day one. For really the first time in the history of iOS, we have a palpable shift in direction. That gives me hope that, with a nearly full development cycle ahead for iOS 8, Apple will be able to really shake things up next year. They’ll have the time. It seems that they now have the inclination to use it.

Was there anything else that you expected today that didn’t get announced? I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Feel free to let me know in our Forums, the comments below, or on Twitter @jhrogersii, or Google+.

 



  • J-MOBILE E. HITE

    Jeez

  • J-MOBILE E. HITE

    When You get Y!MAIL &/or GMAIL the BODY of the LETTER SHOULD HAVE A MUCH LARGER FONT AVAILABLE!!! It’s SO, TINY YOU MAGIFITY IT TO READ IT! iOS Should be MICH MORE COLOURFUL & USE a BOLDER FONT

  • James Rogers

    Settings-General-Accessibility-Large Text

    “View Larger text in Main, Contacts, Calendars, Messages, and Notes.” The choices range from 20-56 point font.

    That’s in iOS 6. However, considering that its accessibility features have been a big selling point for Apple devices among disabled persons and those with diminished eyesight and hearing, I doubt this feature will go away in iOS 7.