WWDC 2017 Wishes

Posted on Sunday, June 4, 2017 in Development 
by Eric Berna

Tomorrow Apple will host their yearly World Wide Developers Conference, so I’m writing my annual wish list. Here’s what I’m hoping they will announce this year. As I did last year, I’ll express my wishes as goals I’m hoping Apple will attempt to achieve, not specific solutions to achieve those goals. I still think Apple’s collective intelligence can far outpace my ability to solve the many problems involved in reaching such goals.

Recap Last Year

But first I’ll recap last years wishes. Did Apple work towards the goals I wished upon them? Does it make sense to still wish those goals on Apple?

Goal: Encourage Long Term App Improvement

I wished Apple would make it easier for developers to pursue business models that included long term improvements to their apps. Last year we got improvements to the subscription model for apps, which I think helped, but Apple is still precluding some business models wanted by many developers.

Specifically many developers would like to offer paid upgrades for their apps in the App Stores. How hard can it be to allow developers to offer paid upgrades? Maybe I’m missing something from my point of view outside the company, but how can paid upgrades be so much harder than in-app purchase or subscriptions?

I don’t wish for this just as a developer, in a hope to make more money from my efforts. I wish for this as a customer and user of the apps. I wish Apple will change their App Store rules and support technology so that many developers can make a living building apps that improve over time. I hope that my iPad, iPhone, Mac, Apple TV, and Apple Watch all get better because developers have multiple viable business models that require extended investment in the development of their apps to succeed.

Goal: Encourage Cross Platform (within Apple OSes) App Development

I didn’t see anything towards this wish last year, so my wish stands unchanged this year.

Goal: Consistent OS Version Numbering

Last year we did get macOS, but I’m still wishing Apple could let the marketing name “Mac OS X” finally die, and number the next version of macOS 11.0.

Goal: Better Games

I got this wish last year, with some improvements to Apple’s game APIs and tools such as a Scene Kit level editor in Xcode. I’m wishing that Apple continues these efforts, including more content editors.

Although most game development is now done in editors like Unity or Unreal, Apple needs to keep advancing it’s tools. Since Unity et. al. are cross platform (and by that I mean almost every platform that you can play a game on) using those editors means a developer will make their game available on more than just Apple devices. If they cede game development to Unity et. al. developers will not make games just for Apple platforms.

Goal: Better Tools

Apple worked towards this goal, but in some ways took some steps backwards. Apple took a step forward by officially supporting Xcode extensions, but in that action took a step backwards by limiting what could be done with extensions. I’m wishing they continue, but this time we’re allowed to extend more parts of Xcode.

Goal: An Assistant I Can Use

Why is the only way to interact with Siri through voice? Let me type to Siri. I work in an open office, and I don’t want my pod mates to know what help I request. It strange that Apple so extols it’s own support for accessibility, but continues to offer Siri only to people that can speak to it.

Goal: Better Hardware

It didn’t come at WWDC, but last year Apple finally released some new hardware, and the rumor mill claims there will be new MacBooks at this year’s WWDC. I think Apple stumbled a bit on product updates, but I think they are getting better. This wish continues for this year.

Predictions

I made a few small guess last year. This year’s update is:

  • The code name for macOS has to leave that park. First there was Yosemite, then we zoomed into one peak in that park, then zoomed out to the surrounding mountains. Can they possibly go for four version names in the same area?

  • I got this right last year, there was no broadcasting snafu. With this year’s move to a new venue, the odds are increased that a broadcasting snafu will occur during the Keynote.

  • Peer-to-peer Apple Pay didn’t appear, but I’m still hoping it will arrive.

New Wishes for This Year

Goal: Compete With the Assistants in a Can

I’m wishing Apple finally gets into this game. With Home Kit, Apple Music, and Siri on all their other devices, putting Siri in a can could outperform the competitors. Sure, Apple claims having Siri on all its devices is better than having it in a stationary can, but plenty of Apple device users are getting the Amazon Echo because something about that can is what they need.

Goal: Family Support

Although plenty of people do live alone, the majority of us humans don’t. I wish Apple would acknowledge this and support more multiple user setups for their products like the iPad, Apple TV, and Siri in a Can.

Can every member share one photo library for all the kids pictures, and manage a separate library for each of us for those personal photos? Can each member of my family add their account to the Apple TV, so I don’t have to have my daughter’s princess movies in my video library? Can we have one iPad that the kids share, yet each keep their personal settings and data?

Goal: Augmented Reality

I’ve recently tried both the Oculus Rift and the Hololens. I found them both fascinating, but I think in the long term the augmented reality of the Hololens is far more useful than the virtual reality of the Rift. Mostly because you’re tied down to a safe location when you’re in virtual reality. If you’re replacing your sense of the outside world with computer generated inputs, your body can’t be wondering around. You’ll fall off a cliff.

For most people virtual reality will only be used for entertainment. It’ll be gaming equipment. Sure, some lucky few will use the technology for work, but most of us will still have to work in the real world.

Augmented reality, on the other hand, can be used almost anywhere. Once Apple gets the displays to work inside the envelope of current vision correcting glasses, and the computing power within an iPhone, connected wirelessly, everybody will want such devices.

So I wish Apple comes out with AR hardware. I don’t know what that would be, but I don’t want them to wait until the Hololens can fit into contact lenses.

And More

That’s a big list so far, but I could keep going, and going, and going . . .

I’ll stop here with one final wish, that Apple surprises me. I’m hoping that we’ll see something new as big as the iMac, iPhone, or iPad. I have no idea what that should be, I’m just hoping to be surprised.

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