I’m writing this in the lobby of my hotel in Cupertino, a couple of hours before I fly home to Memphis and I am here to report that the vibe at WWDC is good.
The Annual March
For several years, Apple has been really good at keeping features across its platforms in step with one another. 2023 is shaping up to be no different, with core improvements coming to the company’s various operating systems at the same time, each tuned to the particular form and function of their host devices.
I think it’s past time Apple rework its keynote strategy, building these videos around features and not OSes, but that’s a blog post for a different day. For now, users can move between their Apple devices more fluidly and quickly than ever.
This has been one of Apple’s goals for its ecosystems for a long time,1 but the company has become more clear about it in recent years.
That’s not to say that these various platforms are merging. Each one still has its own flavor, with features that make sense for the context in which they are used. NameDrop comes to mind, making it easy to quickly share contact information to/from an iPhone and/or an Apple Watch. When I’m at my Mac, I have other ways to share my contact information that don’t involve bumping my MacBook Pro against someone’s iPad.
(And that doesn’t even take into account the new Macs which are all exciting in their own ways.)
Apple’s Vision for the Future
As good as the new OSes look, Apple Vision Pro stole the show this year, and it seems completely justified. I didn’t get to use it this week, but everyone who did is freaking out about it. The technology seems incredibly impressive, blowing away everything else in this space.
I feel pretty good about what I wrote back in April:
Apple’s rumored broad approach with the new device could prove to be a wise one. By supporting most of the things its customers use their iPads and iPhones for, more folks may look at the headset and think, “This does something that is important to me,” and be willing to entertain a purchase.
If the headset is pitched as the next great gaming platform, many people would not be interested in it. Likewise, if it’s heralded as just a new way to work remotely and connect with colleagues, a bunch of people would write it off.
In a sense, every new product needs to be broad now, because consumers assume that everything is a computer that can do computer things. Splashing cold water on the headset’s upcoming announcement because it appears to lack a killer app feels premature to me. Doing a bit of everything is mere table stakes now.
I didn’t have “spatial computer” in mind when I wrote that, but the way Apple is talking about the product shows this thing is about more than just content or just gaming or just productivity. I don’t know if visionOS is the future of personal computing, but it is certainly an intriguing and promising prospect.
It’s an also exciting prospect for developers. It’s been a long time2 since there’s been a new platform that is so fundamentally different than what came before. At launch, I’m sure there will be a lot iPad apps floating around in AR, but I am much more excited about what new apps this type of computing will enable. From talking with developers this week, it’s going to be a lot of fun to see what works well on the Vision Pro.
On a personal note, seeing my friends at Relay FM and beyond is what makes this trip so special. When I first showed up at WWDC 2013, I knew a handful of people and we were on the verge of launching The Prompt. This year, we recorded Connected and Mac Power Users at Apple Park.
I’m an introvert, but I really missed being in Cupertino for a few days every June during the pandemic. Last year felt like a trial run, but this year felt much more like the old WWDC. I can’t wait to come back in a year, probably with a very fancy headset packed away in my bag.