Soon Apple will host their yearly World Wide Developers Conference. For the last few years, in anticipation of WWDC, I’d write a wish list post, what I’m hoping for at that years WWDC. Unfortunately I’m not feeling much anticipation for WWDC this year. Why? Because Apple has made it clear they will not give us the things I want, and when they do promise to work on the things I want, they take forever to ship.
Here’s my hopeless list of wishes for this year’s WWDC. I want them all, but my hopes are non existant that Apple will deliver on any of them.
Encourage Long Term App Improvement
I wish for this as a developer, but I more wish for this as a customer and user of apps. I wish Apple will change their App Store rules and support technology to suport business models that encourage long term improvement to apps. I want many developers to 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.
Apple’s current policies result in many profitable apps that exploit users, such as pay to win games or social networks where the user is the product. Many other apps are abandoned, since further development is not profitable. I don’t know if Apple’s management intended this sorry situation. I can’t sense intention, I can only see what exists.
I keep wishing Apple would make it easier for developers to pursue business models that included long term improvements to their apps. 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?
Another business model is free trials, as asked for by The Developers Union.
What makes me most sad is that these changes can only help Apple. These changes can only improve the over-all quality of apps on Apple platforms, resulting in more customers for Apple.
Encourage Cross Platform (within Apple OSes) App Development
There’s lots of talk about a rumored cross platform API from Apple, and I don’t believe them. Yet I would like to see some improvements in cross platform coding for Apple OSes. Where there’s no good reason for the APIs to be different (e.g. NSColor and UIColor) there should be just one API (maybe Color).
There’s been a great renaming of APIs with Swift. Maybe Apple can push harder on this, renaming and combining similar APIs in the AppKit and UIKit level. Yet, keep macOS and iOS sufficiently separate that each platform maintains its character.
John Gruber tells us not to expect anything this year, so we know we can rule this wish out.
Game Authoring Environment
Year after year Apple makes improvements to their game centric technologies such as SceneKit, SpriteKit, GameplayKit, Model I/O, Metal, ReplayKit, Game Center, Game Controller, On-Demand Resources, and ARKit. This year I expect to see improvements to all of these, and maybe even a new Kit or two.
Yet most game development is now done in editors like Unity or Unreal. These Apple game technologies are necessary, but I don’t think they are sufficient. I think Apple needs to do something big to make game development as easy and powerful as Unity or Unreal, but uniquely Apple.
Maybe Apple can expand the Sprite Kit editor so that a user can start with a template and produce a simple platformer like Mario Bros. without writing a line of code. Users must be able to write their own code too, to customize anything, just like in Unity. Then next year, make one just a capable of making a code free game in Scene Kit
WWDC is rarely the place where Apple introduces new technology, but it does happen. One thing that would fit into the developer focused WWDC, because they are popular with developers, is a new Mac mini. Maybe they can miniaturize it to the size of an Apple TV. Maybe they can add more options, allowing a wide range of configurations, from really cheap starter Mac to high powered server (probably excluding high end GPUs). Maybe they can just update it to current processors.
Apple finally got into the assistant in the can game with HomePod, but not really. Their product is an expensive high end speaker, with the worst assistant. This isn’t in the same market as the Amazon Echo. I’m hoping to see major changes to Siri including improving the functionality, opening up the ability of third party developers to write add-ons, making multiple devices work better, supporting multiple users on one device (TV, HomePod).
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 HomePod.
Can every family member share one photo library for all the kids pictures, while having a separate library for each person’s 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?
Leaving the Park
This one is totally insignificant, but can Apple finally leave the park with the macOS code name? It’s got to happen this year. First there was Yosemite, then we zoomed into one peak in that park, then zoomed out to the surrounding mountains, then zoomed back into a subset of those mountains. California is a big state. Please Apple, how about “macOS Mojave” this year.
Maybe I’ll be happy with what Apple does deliver with WWDC. I know they will deliver many improvements to their APIs and development tools, with some new additions. These will make my job as an iOS developer better. Yet I have little hope they will deliver one of the above wishes.