WWDC 2014 – iOS 8, OS X 10.10 – Apple opens up iOS a bit more!

Well…Not a very exciting event from Apple, but, there are some points that could stretch Apple’s lead in the mobile and desktop market to some extent.

  1. Apple has opened out more APIs on the iOS side allowing app functionality, officially, that was previously available only on jailbroken devices. Given the wide developer base, we could see some exciting apps coming up in the near future. iOS 8 Enterprise features have also been enhanced and could spur wider enterprise adoption.
  2. The introduction of a new programming language, Swift, which could accelerate the development on iOS and OS X platforms far more than ever before.
  3. The integration and extension of the functionality of the 10+ year old Nokia PC Suite into Yosemite is a welcome addition. Most people using iOS devices would probably understand that this could be quite useful on occasion. This page has details.

A word of caution for early adopters. Do not attempt to try iOS 8 just as yet on your primary phone. Most of the current applications will not work as expected and a vast majority would simply crash, including the stock apps. Yosemite, although usable, is quite laggy and slow, which is to be expected from a developer preview. The same applies to Xcode 6 beta.

Now, that we have the basics out of the way, let us try to look at some of the details.

Personally, I am a little disappointed with Apple in both the announcements. Instead of other companies copying Apple, it’s now the other way round…The most blatant example being “Hey, Siri” copied from “Ok, Google”, besides features like battery usage per app which Android has had for a while now or “Extensibility” that sounds suspiciously like a mix of ActiveX from Microsoft and Intents from Android. I only hope that Apple keeps a focus on security and privacy which Google does not really care about.

While Safari and Apple Mail were highlighted at the event, there was no mention of having fixed any related issues. I still get missing images, missing plug-in and incorrectly rendered email in Yosemite. Even stock email from eBay is sometimes not rendered correctly.

I have yet to figure out how to turn off the “touted” transparency feature in Yosemite. The new Yosemite UI and icons are different and therefore look better, but, try using it for a while. The first issue would be when trying to move windows. It would be difficult to figure out the window drag points since there is a lack of contrast and you might keep dragging at the wrong point. Anyway, I would rather that Apple fixes the huge amount of bugs and issues reported on their own forums first instead of spending a year making windows translucent.

On the positive side, the typeface used looks a lot cleaner and better than earlier OS X versions even though the Finder remains an 18th century relic with no control over tabs (if you do not want windows opening all over the place, similar to a single window browser option) or the file listing (in case you want directories/folders listed first) and a lot more.

As for iOS 8, the maps disaster remains intact and is still completely useless at least in India. Apple engineers have not yet cracked the complexity of getting Gmail push notifications. If that did not suffice, iPhone 4 will not be getting the iOS 8 update, despite Apple pushing the iPhone 4 in a lot of geographies and the device is available even today. This is a grave omission for a device that is being actively promoted and sold. The iPad 2 on the other hand, will get the iOS 8 update. Go figure! An obsolete device gets the update but not a current one.

The block list remains as unusable as it was in case you need to organise/edit it. The QuickKeys addition does not work in all fields and as one would expect compared to the Android experience so far. Hopefully some of the other 3rd party keyboards will make typing a lot easier and faster. Oh, the weather is no longer provided by Yahoo! I assume that Apple was not very happy with Yahoo making their own weather app way better than what Apple had as a stock app in every respect.

It’s still early days and I hope Apple starts consolidating and fixing the Yosemite and iOS 8 issues from the past and we land up with a more robust and usable ecosystem. Overall, WWDC 2014 was a mixed bag…let’s see how it turns out in the near future.

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