WWDC 16

Did you all find Google’s announcements at last month’s Google I/O as underwhelming as I did? When you undercut the biggest news (what’s coming in Android N) by releasing a beta before the conference, it does detract from the on-stage excitement. Just sayin’.

Apple, on the other hand, has been harkening back to days of yore, when secrecy was the rule. But yesterday was the opening of WWDC 2016. Shall we see if they were hiding anything exciting, or if there weren’t any major leaks because there wasn’t anything to leak?

Yes, that was a rhetorical question.

The keynote was organized by operating system, so I’ll take the same approach.

  • WatchOS It’s faster. It does background updates. There are new faces, limited handwriting recognition, and a task list. Apple’s somewhat bi-polar attitude towards privacy rears its head: there’s a new app called “Find My Friends” that “takes advantage of background updates to make sure I always have the latest locations for my friends and family.” Terrorists, take note: probably not a good idea to install this app to keep in touch with the rest of your cell. Your watch can now call 911 in an emergency–and send emergency contacts and location data. Let’s hope that function can’t be triggered by software.

    This one’s kind of cool: the workout app is being optimized for wheelchair users, with customized notifications (“Time to roll” instead of “Time to stand”) and wheelchair-specific exercises.

    And then they lose all the cool by announcing an app for deep breathing exercises “to help you deal with everyday stress”. No guys, the “medical community” has not “embraced deep breathing”. The alternative medicine community is pushing it alongside acupuncture, homeopathy, and the rest of the scientifically nonsensical garbage in their arsenal. *sigh*

  • tvOS Apps. Lots of apps. A new iPhone version of the Remote app that will let you control the Apple TV with Siri. Installing apps to you iPhone or iPad will also put them on your Apple TV. No word about whether there’s a way to turn that off if you don’t want that hot new productivity app on your TV.

    Single Sign-on sounds nice: log in once and every app that supports the functionality will pick that up. Except for the app developers who are going to have to explain to their customers why they can’t use Single sign-on on their TV to log into their bank account on their iPhone.

  • OS X macOS Yes, in the interest of brand consistency, OS X has been renamed. Closer integration between your computer and your other Apple devices is the big thing here. Auto-unlock when your Apple Watch or (maybe) iPhone is close to the computer. Copy/paste between devices. iCloud to share files between computer and mobile devices–and to allow you to share your Desktop folder among multiple Macs. Better rethink that NSFW wallpaper of your significant other.

    Apple Pay for online shopping. Set up the transaction on your desktop, then authenticate it with your iPhone or Apple Watch. Shrug. If it’s even slightly more secure than typing your credit card number, it’s a win, but not exactly earthshaking.

    And [trumpet sound effect] Siri on the desktop. Because, of course, Microsoft has Cortana, and Apple can’t afford a personal assistant gap.

  • iOS And, of course, Apple’s bread and butter. A new lock screen that comes on when you pick the phone up so you have a chance to read your notifications before you unlock it. Hopefully it won’t trigger in your pocket often enough to run your battery down. And, naturally, you can do more in the way of responding to those notifications from the lock screen. Is it really that much of a pain to unlock the phone before you can reply to a text?

    Siri and Autocorrect are having a baby: Quick Type. Because having Siri tell you what to type isn’t at all scary.

    Photos can now show you a map of where your photos were taken. I can see that being useful. It would sure make organizing your vacation pictures easier–especially those ones you took through the plane’s window somewhere between Sedalia and Seattle. Oh, wait, that’s me. There are improvements in facial recognition and a new “Memories” tab that sounds like it’ll show images related to the one you’re currently looking at. Automatic slideshow creation. Hmm. That’s more worrisome–do you really want your phone automatically creating a slideshow of all 200 pictures you took at last night’s concert?

    Maps will expand last year’s “Nearby” feature to give you “proactive suggestions based on calendar events or your normal routine”. So it’ll offer you directions to the restaurant you’ve been going to for lunch every day? That’ll be handy. Hey, traffic data! Because nobody’s ever done that before.

    UI tweaks in Apple Music. Thrills. Oh, wait, now it can display lyrics. “Death of the mondegreen predicted. Film at 11.”

    Am I the only person who didn’t know that Messages was the single most popular app on the iPhone? I’m sure those of you who use it will be happy to hear that not only will emoji be three times larger in iOS 10, but the OS will provide emoji suggestions as you type in addition to suggesting words and phrases.

Well.

I hope you’re as excited about what Apple will bring us this Fall.

No, let me amend that. For Apple’s sake, I hope you’re more excited than I am.

Looks like it’s something of a consolidation year for both Apple and Google. Maybe we’ll get something radically new in ’17.

12 thoughts on “WWDC 16

  1. Sigh. Deep breath.

    Yes, in this case Apple is 100% correct. The “medical community” HAS “embraced deep breathing” … as something that is scientifically sensible, effective in the reduction of stress, and not garbage.

    Here are just a few of the researchers and scientists and doctors who have found the medical evidence supporting that: Harvard medical researchers, the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, the University of Maryland Medical Center, Columbia University Medical Center, the University of Texas researchers, the Journal of the American Heart Association, and many, many others.

    I’m sure Apple’s App thing is nice, should you need an app to remind you to breathe. Breathing is pretty cool, with or without an app. I’m a big fan.

    Like

    • I’m going to have to ask for some citations before I’ll accept Apple’s claim. The only things I’m finding relating to medical use of deep breathing are related to Buteyko Breathing. There’s a nice summary at SBM; since none of those studies have shown anything more than modest benefits–and most of them are pretty lousy studies–clearly, I’m missing something.

      Even granting that deep breathing may be useful in reducing stress, Apple’s approach, which allows the user to set whatever amount and type of breathing they prefer, seems unlikely to be any more useful than occasionally tapping someone on the shoulder and saying “Hey, you’re still breathing. Good work! Keep it up!”

      Like

      • Sure. I’m with you on that. Yoga DVDs and Apps stink, too, compared to having a class with a highly trained instructor. But, maybe these things open the door for people, introducing them to something that isn’t Big Pharma …

        I can’t share all the citations with you (unless you’d like to cover my hourly research fee!) but here’s one from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that, I’m hopeful, will soften your stance: http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1809754

        And, when you’re looking up medical studies regarding stress, know that “meditation” and “deep breathing techniques” often refer to the same protocols …

        Like

      • Can we agree to skip the debates about “Big Pharma” and whether it’s beneficial, evil, or just clueless? 😉

        Without doing my own detailed analysis of the meta-study you linked to, I’ll just point out this statement from the “Findings” section: “[We found]…low evidence of improved stress/distress and mental health–related quality of life. … We found no evidence that meditation programs were better than any active treatment (ie, drugs, exercise, and other behavioral therapies).”

        So I’ll grant you some positive benefit, though I think we’re agreed that the app on the Apple Watch is unlikely to do anyone even that much good.

        And, realistically, if Deepak Chopra is the best Apple can do in the way of a spokesperson for the medical community, it suggests to me that they’re not even trying to claim support from the part of the community that believes in controlled studies with reproducible results.

        Like

      • Actually, let me add one more thing here:

        I have used and still use some meditative techniques myself for stress reduction. They help (and yes, anecdote doesn’t equal data), and they’re a damn sight cheaper and (probably) safer than pharmaceutical methods.

        But the limit to how much they can do, especially when used by someone who hasn’t made them a lifelong practice, is low. And Apple, by suggesting that their “Hey, it’s time to breathe” app can do significant good, are planting themselves firmly in the woo-woo space.

        Like

  2. I didn’t mean to debate Big Pharma — I’m not an absolutist on any medical treatment, chemical or alternative. Big Pharma saved my life, so I’m not a woo-woo only. I also don’t believe that Deepak Chopra and his non-science (or Dr. Oz or anyone who has “celebrity” before the word doctor in their CV) speaks for those of us in the hands-on and bodywork care community who seek the support of evidence-based science in our work.

    And, in the confusing world of scientific research … the quote you cite is followed (almost immediately) by this:

    “Clinicians should be aware that meditation programs can result in small to moderate reductions of multiple negative dimensions of psychological stress.”

    And, “small to moderate reductions” can be life-changing for some of my clients.

    Like

    • The less said about Dr. Oz and others of his ilk, the better–aside from excoriations, which are always welcome.

      Sounds like we’re not that far apart. And yes, I saw the additional sentence you quoted; I took that to be a rephrasing of the “no better” line I quoted, in a “no better and no worse” sense.

      Will you accept a withdrawal of “scientifically nonsensical garbage” in the limited case of an actual program that includes training, while keeping it intact for Apple’s “making it up as you go along” approach–as well as the Buteyko Bretheren?

      Like

    • I’d always thought so, but Google and Apple’s latest moves seem to imply that the point of locking your phone is so the data on it can be encrypted before it’s displayed to anyone looking at your lock screen.

      Convenience ahead of common sense, I suppose.

      Though, to be fair, both OSes allow you to limit the apps that can put notifications on the lock screen. So if you want to easily dismiss calendar notifications, but keep your texts private, you can.

      Like

  3. Pingback: Insert Apple Joke Here | Koi Scribblings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s