The Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is well underway, and the keynote is behind us. I thought, even though it’s still early in the week, that I’d take a few moments and reflect back on what’s left behind after the excitement of Apple’s six big announcements for the summer of 2017. With that in mind, here are my six takeaways from WWDC 2017, both good and bad.
1. Apple Is Smart in Spacing out Important Announcements
While Cupertino definitely gave us a good many things to look forward to, the tech giant hasn’t revealed all of its plans for the remainder of the year. In fact, Apple even told us there was more yet to come in 2017, with CEO Tim Cook saying they’d be bringing us more news about tvOS “later this year.” I’m still hopeful for a fifth-generation Apple TV with 4K (or greater) support.
Of course, we knew Apple wouldn’t announce everything at the developers conference. While there are plenty of great takeaways from WWDC 2017, we haven’t heard yet about new iPhones. That will come this fall, with the anniversary-edition of the handset as well as a possible update to bring us an iPhone 7S. Yes, there’s plenty still in store for 2017 from Apple, even with all of the terrific announcements made during the WWDC keynote.
2. Cupertino Is Starting to Let Us Have More Control Over Our Files in iOS
With iOS 11, Apple is showing that it’s ready to let us have more control over what we do with our files on the mobile operating system. While it demonstrated the new file management features strictly on the iPad Pro, many of those functions are available on the iPhone, as well. Markdown and the new Files app appear in the iOS 11 beta on my iPhone 7 Plus.
The Files app is currently limited to just iCloud Drive and select apps, but I’m sure more is coming as new betas are released. It’s still early in iOS 11’s development cycle, and apps like Dropbox certainly need to be updated to take advantage of the new features in the mobile operating system. It’s refreshing, though, to see Apple opening up the file system in iOS, allowing us more control than ever before over our own documents and images.
3. The iPad Pro Lineup Is Growing by Leaps and Bounds
The all-new 10.5-inch iPad Pro looks fantastic, providing an amazing amount of screen real estate in a smaller package than the model’s larger sibling. Reducing the borders by almost 40 percent frees up a lot of space for glass, which means you have more room to work than ever before.
Even better, the new A10X Fusion chip in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro makes the device a true powerhouse. The innovative ProMotion technology in the Retina display, offering 120Hz refresh rates, makes the iPad Pro perhaps the most elegant professional tablet on the market. I only wish there was more freedom in the app space, but it seems as if that may be coming, even if only incrementally.
4. Apple Is Killing Part of the Indie Developer Market
I know this isn’t Cupertino’s intent, but it’s true. The new features in iOS 11 will render literally hundreds of third-party apps obsolete. Airport maps, the dramatic improvements to Notes and the ability to scan documents to PDF with the built-in apps means more than a few developers will need to seriously think again about how to build upon what iOS is capable of and expand the features natively built-in.
What’s really impressing me is the amount of new features coming along with iOS 11. The Instant Markup promises to eliminate my need for the aging and almost abandoned Skitch, since I can do my annotations quickly and easily without opening a different app. I just hope that future betas allow me to invoke Markup after I’ve saved a screenshot to my Photos library, since I often need to make additional edits after my first round.
5. Phil Schiller Needs to Rehearse More
Maybe this is nitpicking, and maybe it’s just the fact that the executive is more used to smaller presentations, but the man seriously needs to up his game when it comes to speaking and “performing” at keynotes. He stumbled over his words a few too many times. It’s not a huge deal, and didn’t really take away from the keynote much, but it was definitely noticeable.
Of course, it isn’t just Schiller who seemed slightly ill at ease presenting. Toby Paterson was perhaps even less prepared, or maybe he just isn’t accustomed to giving presentations. His speech was dry and monotonous, and at times difficult to understand. Honestly, these presentation issues were the only part of WWDC 2017’s keynote that I can call ugly, and barely even that.
6. watchOS Just Keeps Getting Better
This might be my favorite among all of my takeaways from WWDC 2017. Apple announced watchOS 4, an update to the wearable’s operating system that proves the Apple Watch keeps getting better. I’ve had a chance to try out the new Siri watch face, and it’s definitely proactive in coaching you through your day. While I wasn’t exactly prepared to take the 21-minute walk the watch face suggested near the end of the day yesterday, it did help me unwind and close out what was a very busy afternoon and evening.
Health and fitness are becoming a huge part of watchOS, and it’s definitely good to see. After all, we’re in an age when people are increasingly facing struggles with staying in shape. The encouragement that watchOS 4 offers to make healthier choices, and the soon-to-come integration with cardio exercise equipment, will place Apple Watch in a position to become even more of a leader in the wearables market.
Takeaways From WWDC 2017: It's Going to be a Good Year for Apple
Those are my biggest takeaways from WWDC 2017 and its keynote. There’s definitely more yet to come, as Apple releases more news and hardware in the coming months. I didn’t even touch on HomePod, but that new device is certainly going to revolutionize how we listen to music in our living and family rooms, and beyond. Cupertino continues to expand its products and services, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else is in store for us in 2017.
This article was first published on June 6, 2017.