WWDC 2014: The Good, The Bad, and the Meh - Macenstein

WWDC 2014: The Good, The Bad, and the Meh

Apple World Wide Developer Conference 2014

WTF?! I may have to change this series’s title to “The Good, the Really Good, and the GREAT!” For the first time in THIS cynical old journalist’s history, I liked pretty much everything I saw, and I actually LOVED most of it!
From the updated OS X to the TRULY exciting iOS 8, I’m going to be hard-pressed to complain much here… but I’ll try. Let’s see how Apple’s 2014 World Wide Developer’s Conference breaks down into my “Good, Bad, and Meh” rating system.


OS X Yosemite

Ugh that name…. OK, so I was a little worried when we heard OS X was going to be modeled after the flat iOS look, but really it doesn’t look all that different, or maybe I’m just used to iOS 7 so it doesn’t look as weird. Basically, a thinner font and they added the blurry translucent thing that iOS has with its pulldowns. And the addition of a “dark” mode is the first time Apple has given its users a choice of ANYTHING UI-related in a long time. Notification Center looks like iOS 7, along with the new widgets that iOS 8 is getting (spoiler alert). I like Spotlight’s new search bar location (centered on the screen) and its more robust searching, even if it IS basically a ad for Apple’s digital content.

iCloud Drive, Mail Drop, Markup…
Well, looks like Apple REALLY wants all our stuff on their iCloud drive. I sure hope it’s secure… This is a seemingly very nice way to sync data between all your computers, assuming you have more than one. It also syncs data from your iOS apps as well. Mail Drop is Apple’s new large file transmitting service (up to 5GB!), Markup let’s you sign documents or scribble on images and pdfs. MailDrop is actually one of the coolest an unexpected things announced today. It is a welcome addition, but who was asking for it? I love it.


Apple made Safari a whole mess faster, and the Safari UI smaller… like 1 bar thick. I am going to REEEALLY try to adapt to this because I love how it looks, but I am the person who re-enabled my status bar on my current Safari, so it’ll be tough. But it certainly LOOKS nice. The revamped recent sites/bookmarks looks nice, but I’m not yet sure I see the benefit over the current Top Sites method… The scrolling tabs looks awesome and it is going to confuse the HELL out of my Mom who will be calling me asking where her stuff went when she accidentally swipes.

AirDrop now works between iOS and the Mac. But as cool as that is, it’s the proximity awareness that that is the big news. Your Mac and iPhone will now be aware of where each other and what apps are doing what via something called Handoff. For example if you are working on a document or email on your phone, and walk near your computer, your computer will prompt you and ask if you’d like to finish typing that email on the computer. It is MAGIC I TELLS YA! But not as magic as the new Instant Hotspot feature where your computer will wirelessly grab an internet connection from your nearby iPhone if it doesn’t have one! Countdown to Skynet going live…


Oh, and you can now make phone calls from your computer. Yep. It hijack’s your phone for the connection and uses the iSight mics. We have not seen an OS X update with this many listable “tangible” features in a long time. AND IT’S FREE!!!

iOS 8

While there were no big visual enhancements to iOS, almost everything got at least a little love under the hood, and some apps got a BIG overhaul. I’m happy to say pretty much everything looked like a step up. The take away message from this year’s WWDC seems to be “integration”, and Mail, Messages, Calendar, Photos, Safari etc. now can communicate with each other and 3rd party apps in a more cohesive way. It seems with iOS 8 a lot of long-time barriers imposed on developers are either being removed, or at least lessened to a noticeable degree. It will be interesting to see what developers are able to do with this new freedom in the coming months.

Enterprise Features
Apple made some nice changes in how Enterprise iDevices are deployed, giving it a slick, Apple-like experience, although I assume it only alleviates headaches for the IT guys, not the end users so much. What is DOES do though is allow for employees to be the first ones to unbox their iDevices for once. There is some nice integrations with Business apps as well throughout the Apple apps, which shows Apple is not going to let Google or Microsoft usurp their lead in the corporate world without a fight. Very exciting.

Health and HealthKit
Apple’s new “Here’s everything wrong with you in graph form” Health app seems nice, but also seems like 5 years away from benefitting the average user as it relies on a lot of 3rd parties adopting the technology and medical facilities signing on as well. Still, if it is going to happen eventually, better start now. I guess how exciting this is depends on how ritzy your doctor’s office is and how much they like to invest in new toys.


Family Sharing(Good)
Well, the sharing photos and events part of this seems largely useless, as most people will continue to use Facebook, texting, twitter etc., to share photos and such, but the new “Alert me when my kid tries to make a purchase” feature seems like something that will be a big hit with the tech media who have loved to vilify Apple and Android every time some 6 year-old kid drops three grand on an in-app Smufberries purchase.

New Photos App(Good)
Uhoh… given that a full 3/4s of all apps on the app store are photo enhancing apps, Photo’s new, more robust photo enhancement capabilities might ruffle a few feathers. Apple has once again added features to an app that will canabilze some 3rd party developers, although there are still a few features that some people might pay for, such as horrible filters and effects.

3rd party WIDGETS and Keyboards!
Widgets on the HOME SCREEN! Hooray! You will be able to install weird 3rd party keyboards! Hooray! Now shut up Android users.

Siri is always listening (meh)
Hmmm… I’m not sure how this is going to work, but Siri’s new auto Shazam capabilities and buttonless activation implies to me that Siri is always listening now. As we all know from watching The Dark Knight, this seems like something Batman, or some government agency could easily exploit. I’ll assume there will be an optional toggle though, but still… seems like we are 1 year away from a story about how people are hacking iPhones to spy on people.

App Store improvements
Apple is adding the ability to bundle apps for a reduced price, and let developers beta test their apps via the app store with select users. The bundle idea is a great idea, and I’m sure will lead to people spending MORE money than usual while thinking they are getting a deal. You only want 3 apps but you can get 5 for just $1 more, even though you probably don’t want the other 2? BUY! Genius.

Wow. Securely control everything in your house from your iPhone, assuming you are willing to drop $1000’s on retrofitting your house with wifi enabled locks and thermostats and lights. This seems cool and will be useful when I build my next house from scratch I’m sure, but I don’t see myself replacing every lock and bulb in my house anytime soon.

Apple’s new programming language looks to take the place of Objective C, and… that’s about all I understood. But the developers in the audience seemed to cheer a lot, so hey, Thumbs up!!


The Meh

Various attempts at humor
WWDC 14 seems to be the first time Apple has decided to go full Gallagher on our asses. Lots of jokes about Craig Federighi’s hair… Well, at least there wasn’t anything as embarrassing what Ballmer has done over the years…

The Bad

Nothing really. My only REAL concern is that this Family Sharing thing is going to somehow limit my app sharing, as my family of 4 has about 10 iDevices, and I like that I can pay once and slap my same game on all 10 devices. Family Sharing says it limits you to 6, and since no one is using BOTH devices at the same time, this seems like a step down for me. I guess we’ll have to see if Family Sharing is mandatory or if I can continue my business as usual.


So there you go. Everything Apple has added seems to be a great advance or an advance towards a FUTURE advance, both on the Mac and the iPhone, and EVERYTHING IS FREE. I really hate not being able to be upset here, but Apple appears to have nailed it. Feel free to tell me how right I am in the comments.

8 Responses to “WWDC 2014: The Good, The Bad, and the Meh”
  1. Musashi says:

    You are SO right! For once.

  2. Jon says:

    I’m impressed, too. If I can have an iOS keyboard with cursor keys, I will be very pleased. The Swift programming language may be a big deal, allowing more users to become developers.

  3. Jon says:

    It took a two hour keynote to cover a lot of software releases. I hope they follow up soon with a two hour hardware special event. We’re expecting an iPhone 6 (with parallel iPad), a game-playing, Internet-browsing, home-automating AppleTV, a health-enhancing iWatch, updates to their computers and some new headphones.

  4. facto says:

    Always a pleasure to read your good-bad-meh.

  5. Glorious1 says:

    “Siri is always listening” only when the device is connected to power

  6. gprovida says:

    I think the idea is that up to 6 iTtumes and App accounts can share stuff assuming they are one family using the same credit card. So in my case my two iTiunes accounts xxxxx and xxxxx@xxx.com as well as my wife’s yyyyy can share apps, hopefully other media, there is no mobile device limit other than the original no more than 5 PC and/or Macs sharing iTunes music, TV, and movies.

    This is terrific if I have it right. This really simplifies my life with our 2 iPhones, 2 iPads, and 2 macs. I suspect families with kids will be delighted.

    Oh by the way, I thought the parental OK feature for kids to purchase an App was a great add, although it does require a minimum amount of setup by the parent (some parents are pretty lazy and/or clueless) and kids not to fake being a parent (again minimal parental oversight required).

  7. Kay Jay says:

    It means 6 different accounts ( each account could have 10 devices) so family sharing won’t do you no harm 🙂

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