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Game Changers: What Apple Announced This Week at WWDC

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You can’t go anywhere on the web without reading one of a zillion articles about what Apple announced at Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), so instead of going long on this and reiterating what everyone is saying, I’m going to summarize the big things as succinctly as possible.

Why even bother? Because some of the things Apple announced are HUGE.

Open-API Touch ID Functionality

Touch ID – the software behind Apple’s fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5S – is excellent, and once you start using it, you get used to it – fast. Passwords feel archaic, and you get annoyed when you have to type one.

This week, Apple opened Touch ID up to third-party developers, which means anyone can create an app that foregoes passwords and instead uses a fingerprint biometric. Think about that: Apple is swinging an axe straight down on the neck of the confusing, easily-compromised password scheme we all love to hate.

This will change the way login security will be handled on a massive scale. Just wait and see how quickly developers snap this up.

Continuity

Apple just unveiled the universal client. Meaning: you can start working on a document on your desktop computer, continue it on your iPad, and finish it on your home laptop. No files being stored anywhere, no transfers, no Google Drive, no Dropbox. Your work, in the state you left it, ready to be worked on from any device, no hassle.

And then of course you have messaging. SMS is the most widely used messaging technology in the world. Apple announced the ability to reply to ANY text message (even non-iMessage messages) from ANY device.

To the casual observer, continutiy is a big, “So what?” To the actual user experience, it’s, “I can’t believe I’ve lived without this for so long.”

This is agnostic device computing, and a death certificate for the old model of moving files around so the most recent version is available on different machines.

iCloud Drive

A shot straight across the bow of Dropbox, iCloud Drive promises to be a cloud file storage system that integrates with Apple devices better than anything. It’s part of both of Apple’s main OS’s (OS X and iOS), so no more having to use a third-party solution like Dropbox or Google Drive. The key here is integration, and that’s why this will be huge.

iCloud Drive isn’t just for Apple devices, either: it’s available for Windows, too.

If Apple can scale and ensure uptime and performance for iCloud Drive, this will be a game-changer. (Scalability and performance, incidentally, are where Dropbox succeeds wildly, and that’s not easy stuff. Apple has to do this right, or be ridiculed by nerds everywhere. Dropbox has set a very high bar.)

Smaller Stuff

What I list above are the features I think are the biggest game-changers Apple released, but there are other smaller things and tips of yet-unseen icebergs that are plenty interesting:

  • Improved Input – There’s a new Apple predictive keyboard (called QuickType) AND support for third-party keyboards, like Swiftkey and Swype. This is HUGE, as it’s been on every iOS user’s wishlist for a while now.
  • HealthKit – Apple just effectively became the middle-man for one’s health-related data, from fitness and performance data to health records. It has all the promise of Passbook, but then again, Passbook hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. I have a feeling Apple has a LOT going on with third-party health information providers. We’ll see.
  • Swift – this is the new programming language Apple announced, and from developer reaction on the web, it’s pretty amazing. The description of it has lots of words I don’t really understand, so if you’re the coding type, dig in.
  • HomeKit – this is Apple’s entrée into home automation. It’s a set of APIs that allow home devices (locks, lamps, lighting systems, HVAC, etc.) to integrate directly into iOS. The use case shown at WWDC was cool: tell your iPhone, “Get ready for bed” and HomeKit will lock your doors, close your garage door, and turn off your lights, all automatically. The only iffy part I see is that it relies on third-party hardware products, so Apple is going to have to QC that very strictly lest the user experience falls short of expectations.

If you want more in-depth coverage of what Apple announced, I recommend The Verge’s breakdown. It’s great and covers a lot more than I do here.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and don’t forget to check the P4R Gaming services for your video games.

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3 Responses

  1. Jeff V. says:

    Hey Carson. Good stuff.

    Yes, TouchID was hacked quickly (like many new technologies), but for a wide swath of the population, it’s not something you need to worry about. Why? It’s anything but trivial.

    Do I expect TouchID to get better/stronger? Yes, I do, especially if I’m right in my assumption that Apple is going to roll out biometrics on MORE devices, not less.

    As for cloud storage, yeah, there are very good enterprise solutions (like DriveHQ). But I can tell you from personal experience that 99% of all cloud-hosted files I receive in the office are on Dropbox or Google Drive. I think we have to be careful labeling something as ‘consumer,’ because that moniker can cover a lot of very good technologies suited for many EXCEPT those looking for specialized use cases or who have stringent requirements.

    Great comments, though. Thanks!

  2. Carson says:

    Also, I work for a cloud provider, and I can safely say that we do not consider Dropbox a strong competitor due to a severe lack of scalability and performance. To be fair, we, DriveHQ, are an enterprise solution, not a consumer solution, but still, scalability and performance? Sorry, but no.

  3. Carson says:

    Not to rain down on Apple’s parade, but isn’t Touch ID already a thing on the iPhone 5s that was within something like 48 hours rendered extremely hackable? The idea of biometrics is definitely intriguing, but this is a case where I have to see it work first before I get hyped up about it.

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