Next week Apple will host their yearly Worldwide Developers Conference. Judging from what Apple has done at previous WWDC I’m expecting to see new products, features, and APIs announced on Monday in the Keynote and Platforms State of the Union addresses. The following days will have numerous sessions covering these topics in greater detail.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
― Henry Ford
I have no insider information on what will be revealed, but here are my wishes for what Apple announces. I assume the collective intelligence of Apple employees far outpaces my singular brain, so I’ll present my wishes in the form of goals I’m hoping Apple will attempt to achieve, not specific solutions to achieve those goals. I don’t want to be like Henry Ford’s focus groups wishing for a faster horse. I do mention some specific solutions, but these are merely to demonstrate my point. I hope Apple comes up with much better things than I can suggest.
Goal: Encourage Long Term App Improvement
Right now many developers are trying many different ways to monetize their Apps under the rules of the iOS App Store. Few of those ways encourage the developers to release an app, and then follow with an improved version of that app, and then repeat. A few developers seem to be succeeding following this plan, such as the Omni Group.
I want to see Apple change the rules of the App Store to encourage developers to follow this strategy instead of whipping out a quick and dirty app that gets abandoned once the initial rush collapses.
Sure, there will always be plenty of crappy apps that crowd the store, and there will be developers blaming Apple for their inability to make any money in the app store. I’m not asking for solutions to those problems. What I’m asking for is the App Store rules to tilt the playing field towards making great apps that are the result of years of improvements.
Goal: Encourage Cross Platform (within Apple OSes) App Development
All of Apple’s OSes can easily trace their heritage back to NeXTSTEP. Mac OS X is clearly a continuation of what Apple bought when it acquired NeXT. Apple engineers re-thought the user interface layers when they mutated Mac OS X into iOS. tvOS and watchOS are close siblings of iOS. Maybe it’s time to rethink the relationship of all of these OSes to each other, and combine the APIs that are or can be common between them, making it easier for developers for one platform to include the other platforms in their projects.
Goal: Consistent OS Naming
Apple has tvOS, and iOS, and watchOS, and Mac OS X. As I learned on Sesame street, one of these is not like the others.
Goal: Better Games
For a long time now, Apple engineers have consistently produced new libraries and APIs to support better games on iOS. They’ve produced numerous “Kits” (Sprite, Scene, Gameplay, Game, etc.) aimed at game developers. But they are not used that heavily. These kits are competing with game engines like Unity and Unreal.
I’m hoping that Apple does not give up on game technologies. I’m hoping for improvements to all the current Kits and a new Kit or two. I’m hoping Apple does not cede control of game development to the game engines.
Goal: Better Tools
I hope Apple continues to improve Xcode. Specific areas that could use improvement are Swift refactoring tools. Auto Layout tools in Interface Builder could be improved. Also, a minor improvement would be to produce better templates, ones that show different app structures or better practices in coding.
One trend for Xcode I hope they are willing to break is integrating everything. Xcode subsumed Interface Builder. Last year they added a 3D scene editor and animation editors. I’m hoping Apple is willing to break some of these tools out into separate programs so they don’t have to live within the confines of Xcode. I could see them making a companion program for 3D modeling and SceneKit scene design, which could be much better than it fitting inside Xcode.
Goal: An Assistant I Can Use
I work in an open office and live with my wife and kids. Most of the time I’m not willing to talk to Siri. Let me interact with an assistant using text and/or a visual input. Add Siri to Mac OS X as an addition to Spotlight.
While you’re at it, add a Siri API, so I and all those other app developers can add functionality to Siri. Let me tell Siri to add something to OmniFocus, or ask if my Boom Beach base was attacked.
Goal: Better Hardware
WWDC is a developer conference, so I’m not expecting much for hardware. I’d much rather they have so much new software to discuss that they just can’t squeeze in a hardware announcement. Yet, if they do I’m hoping for MacBook Pro, display, and watch hardware improvements.
My work MacBook Pro is almost 4 years old. It’s still a great workhorse, and the new MacBook Pros don’t offer any compelling reason to dump this one for a newer model. Maybe if I could get the iMac’s 5K display in an external package, I’d be interested in that plus maybe a new MacBook Pro if it’s required for running the 5K display.
Apple offers so many watch bands, but each of them only offers two features, a different appearance, and the ability to hold the watch to a wrist. What if the watch bands could add additional features? Maybe add a new sensor, like a blood sugar monitor. Maybe an additional battery.
Finally, here are a few minor predictions that I’m not concerned about enough to call a wish:
The code name for this year’s Mac OS will leave the Park. It will not refer to anything in or near Yosemite.
There will not be a broadcasting snafu during the Keynote. This really could go either way, so I flipped a coin to make this prediction.
Apple Pay will add a feature to allow peer-to-peer payments, allowing us to pay from one iPhone to another for things like paying the babysitter.
Update (June 8, 2016)
WWDC hasn’t even started, and one of my wishes has been granted. Phil Schiller talked to The Verge and The Loop about changes to the App Store. Among other items, Schiller announced a new subscription based business model available to all app developers, not just news outlets. Go get details at the linked articles.
Time will tell if this business model is widely adopted, and if it results in achieving my wish. My hopes are raised, as my initial analysis of this change does seem to encourage app developers to continuously improve their apps to maintain subscription users.