Apple’s 2012 WWDC: The Good, the Bad, and the Meh
As with all big Apple events, I once again find people turning to me for my opinion on the announcements from Apple’s 2012 World Wide Developer’s Conference. Honestly I can’t blame them, as my opinion is often the only correct one when it comes to such things. I seem to have the uncanny ability to cut through the hype with laser beam-like precision, and somehow categorize the day’s events into one of three categories: Good, Bad, and Meh. Here’s how the 2012 WWDC event broke down:
New Laptops: The MacBook line gets slightly more confusing with these updates, but who cares? ALL hardware updates are welcome in my opinion, especially the addition of USB 3, and who can complain about graphics and processor improvements across the board? (I know, I’m sure some of you can). The MacBook Air gets not only a decent bump in specs but a nice $100 off the current price to boot. The MacBook Pro line has received a bit of love as well, but anyone who gets a “regular” MacBook Pro vs. Apple’s newly announced retina display models is all but insuring their laptop’s obsolescence. Clearly the future of the Mac and OS X in general will be revolving around these new displays, so it will likely be worth your while to try to save up an extra $600 or so and get one of these. Siri is also set to be integrated into the latest vehicles from BMW, GM, Mercedes, Toyota, and Honda, so I will be buying one of each when they come out.
Mountain Lion: Wow. Available for $19.99 starting next month, this thing seems to pack more bang for your buck into an update than Apple has delivered in years. True, there is very little that has been added that you NEED, but everything is cool, and borrowed from iOS, which I use almost more than OS X these days. GameCenter, the Growl-rip-off Notification center, AirPlay mirroring, integrated social sharing, iMessages… Pretty much the only thing I do NOT care about is anything having to do with Pages syncing across my devices.
iOS 6: Siri seems to slowly becoming more useful. The new sports features look useful for those in a fantasy league or those in a drunken bar discussion. The movies feature is perhaps the coolest shown off today (Siri can pull up movie times, Rotten Tomato ratings, actor bios, etc.), although a close second is the ability to now launch apps via spoken commands. This is great for someone like me who has 11 pages of folders, vs 11 pages of apps on their iPhone and has to search manually sometimes to find them. The VIP feature in Mail also looks great (you can now flag important people as VIPs so only THEIR email notification show up on the lock screen), as does the ability to set up custom actions for phone callers.
Do Not Disturb Mode: Finally! I will not be woken up by my iPhone with a Hanging With Friends notification at 2AM when I forget to place it face-down on my nightstand!
FaceTime over cellular! Hooray! Another missing feature you guys can now shut up about! I personally can’t see using this much, but I can’t wait for annoying people to use it behind me in the checkout line so I can finally put an annoying face to the annoying voice.
Passbook: This “lifestlye card” managing app looks AMAZING for those of you who leave your houses. I will never use it, but basically if you store your Movie, sports, or plane tickets (or even Starbucks-type cards in it) it will automatically pull up those cards for you when you arrive at those locations, making it more fun to spend your money. And isn’t that what life is all about?
Guided Access: If you have small kids you know two things: First, they LOVE your iPhone. Second: They constantly hit the Home button and need to hand you back the device to relaunch their game or movie, usually while you are driving. This new feature allows you to temporarily disable the Home button (or any other feature) so your kids can get back to shutting up and leaving you alone.
MAPS: Holy S#@!, Apple ate Google’s lunch. Or they will, if version 1.0 of their Maps app is any indication. And the demo didn’t even crash! 3D buildings, turn-by-turn, Siri integration, auto-rerouting to avoid traffic… At the risk of sounding “fanboy-ish”, I haven’t been this excited to own an iPhone since iOS 2.
Mac Pro refresh: And you thought it was DEAD! Yes, the MacPro got a much needed refresh (not that anyone mentioned it on-stage), with expensive options for 12-cores, 4 SSD drives – all the stuff it needed two years ago. Look for a Reddit post with a maxed-out $35,000 configuration in about 15 minutes.
The MEH I’m not a big fan of Apple adding ports to BOTH sides of the MacBooks. If I may be so bold as to suggest, it feels very UN-Stevelike. Also, dropping the DVD drive (while long inevitable) is a little meh. That being said, I actually took mine out of my current MacBook and added an extra hard drive, so I suppose I really have no grounds for complaining.
No iOS 6 for the original iPad, which is a shame as it is really only 2.5 years old. That being said, my 1st gen iPad really feels slow these days doing almost anything, so I suppose it was only a matter of time before it got labeled EOL. However, the inclusion of the iPhone 3G S on the iOS 6 checklist is a bit odd, although I imagine not ALL (most) features will work with it (certainly not anything Siri-based). And it will likely run painfully slow.
iCloud integration: I don’t want to sound like an old fart here, but all this “super-simple” syncing between my iPhone, iPad, Mac, AppleTV, iPhotos, FaceBook, Safari tabs… It is sounding so simple that it has become complicated. I think I may need a little time to really sit down and think about how much of this I care about, and what I will be allowed to avoid.
Apple doesn’t think the Mac Pro update is worth mentioning: A silent update is better than NO update, but since Apple doesn’t really hold Pro-video events anymore, WWDC is th eclosest thing to a pro event it has, and it’s sad that no one was able to take the stage for even 3 minutes and just say “Hey, we know a lot of you guys develop on these ancient towers of ours. Well, we updated them finally after two years.” The applause would have been thunderous. Oh well, I will try not to read too much into this… at least they didn’t announce the Mac Mini was taking over their pro line. Yet.
Wait… No Thunderbolt on the new MacPro?!?! OK, I guess Apple really IS killing off the Mac Pro. I mean, out of all the computers it makes, to skip adding even ONE Thunderbolt port?!? What about the Apple Thunderbolt Displays? I think it’s safe to say this appears to be the last Mac Pro update ever, so if you want one, now’s your chance.
No more 17-inch MacBook Pro?: Speaking of worrying about Apple’s pro market, I don’t seem to be able to find a 17-inch MacBook Pro in the Apple Store…
So, that’s it, the Good, the Bad, and the Meh from today’s “WWDC 2012″ event. All in all, VERY little to complain about – perhaps the most exciting keynote in years (in content, if not in delivery). Feel free, as always, to tell me how dead-on correct I am in the comments.