Cause and effect: WWDC yields predictable reaction


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Now I am become Disappoint, the destroyer of worlds. Or at least Apple announcements.

Writing for the San Jose Mercury News, Larry Magid proclaims “Apple's lack of significant news a disappointment”. (Tip o’ the antlers to Philip Speicher.)

I've been attending Apple product announcements since the early 80s and, at times, I've walked away impressed and even inspired.

Not this time! This time, despite the company highlighting software at its conference for software developers and showing significant improvements to all four of its platforms, all we were left with was the bitter taste of disappointment.

Which, to be honest, could have come from those WWDC box lunches.

…it wasn't the lack of showmanship that disappointed me this time. It was the relative lack of significant news.

To begin with, there were no hardware announcements at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference last week.

It’s true that in the past Apple has used WWDC to make hardware announcements. Prior to the iPhone, the only times Apple got consistent press coverage were at Macworld Expo and WWDC. The former is no more, but Apple really doesn’t even have to use the latter for announcements anymore if it doesn’t want to. If Apple said that they’re having an on-campus announcement in three hours, journalists would be pulling some serious Gumball Rally action to get there.

It’s not exactly like time has stood still for Apple simply because it didn’t announce new hardware at WWDC. Apple had an event in March where it introduced the iPhone SE and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. The next month they revved the MacBook without holding an event. Announcing software changes may not be what reporters want but it’s sure what the people who paid to be at WWDC — developers — want.

Still, there was one big Mac announcement. OS X is dead. Long live MacOS.

That’s your big take-away? The name change? Not Siri or the Universal Clipboard or Auto Unlock? Did you step out for nachos in the middle or something?

Let us turn the pages of time all the way back to, oh, three weeks ago. Yes, the Macalope recognizes that this is the distant past and is very hard to remember, however, the major concern for Apple was at the time was the intelligence of its devices. Apple was falling behind in the arms race and needed to step up its game. And what did Apple announce at WWDC? Not only that Siri was coming to the desktop (which is necessarily an improvement) but also that it was opening it up to developers and that it was using differential privacy to improve Siri’s results while maintaining user privacy. So, while Apple didn’t flat out solve the major issue everyone was discussing in the lead-up to WWDC, it went a long way toward making clear it was working on it.

As is the style of the genre, Magid provides his own take on the “Steve Jobs never would have” attack — because, as we all know, only those who write for pooh-poohing publications knew Steve the best — this time over stickers and the other features being added to Messages.

This was all about form and flash and not about function. …

Jobs was obsessive about the way things looked, but when he made engineers spend countless hours fine tuning the way a pixel appears or the polish on a screw, he didn't tout those as features but as part of the gestalt of a product that -- for him -- had to be as perfect as possible in every detail.

Yes, God knows Steve never took delight in flashy features with no real function.

The Macalope has read no less than 500,000 “Steve Jobs would never” attempts and the score so far is… let’s just look at the big board… hmm, yes, 0 for 500,000.

I'm not counting Apple out…

Well, that’s a relief. For a second we were all concerned that Apple was “out”. Very thrilled to know that’s not the case.

The Macalope will just leave you with this thought experiment: What is more disappointing, Apple’s annual WWDC announcements or the predictable, blasé reactions after the fact?

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