29th May 2014

How exactly will Apple's 2014 WWDC 'change the world'?

“Write the code. Change the world.” That’s the bold, if not hyperbolic, promise Apple is making for this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference. As we’ve come to expect from any Apple event, this year’s WWDC is as much about what is and isn't going to be announced. The Apple rumour-mill, is saying everything from iWatches (unlikely) to home-automation (likelier).

While a hardware announcement is usually a safe bet for a WWDC (12 inch retina MacBook Air?), most of the focus will probably be on a wholesale update to the venerable OSX and significant tweaks to iOS. There's also the possibility of the expansion – some say major expansion – of iBeacon into a fully fledged Internet of Things platform. But who really cares about actual fact, when there are rumours unbounded by reality to ruminate over.

And ruminate we did. We sat down to discuss the possible announcements/rumours that we’re most excited about.

 

Tom Cunningham, Lead Graphic Designer

Tom Cunningham

I’m interested to see how they can align the the desktop UI with the flat design approach of the Mobile OS. My hope is that a more streamlined aesthetic won’t be at the cost of usability and visual balance. I’d like to see a more refined visual style without simply shoehorning an iOS7-esque aesthetic onto my 27inch screen.

If they simply whitewash every panel with #ffffff then it may be equivalent to looking directly into a torch light for 8+ hours a day.

 

Brian Herron, Lead Content Strategist

Brian HerronI remember Airdrop for iOS being announced last year's WWDC and thinking: "FINALLY!".

But thinking that meant easy wireless transfer of files between my phone and mac was ridiculously optimistic  – you can't Airdrop (verb?) files between a Mac and an iOS devices. Only device to device, which I guess could be handy but I've never once needed to do this.

Having to shuffle between between Dropbox, iCloud, Gmail or iMessage, just to copy an image off a phone without a cable is shocking.

This is probably a only once a month situation for me, and there are workarounds (apparently Pushbullet is good), but not having this simple feature, to me, is borderline negligent. Whatever about the rest of the pie in the sky stuff, just make that work please, Tim.

I'm putting my money on no new hardware category announcements – so no iWatch, no iTV. It's a developer conference, not a consumer goods show. The last few days a few rumours have surfaced about iBeacon; I think that expanding iBeacon into the Internet of Things or payments (probably not till next year) is the most interesting thing that Apple could do. Like, 'change the world' kind of interesting.

 

Laurence Veale, Head of UX

Lar VealeI'd like to see them open their fingerprint authentication to third parties. Samsung seem to have done so, meaning that developers are free to implement more secure and innovative login systems for mobile apps.

Wearables is the obvious one and I'm expecting something here. Since Nike disbanded their Fuelband team there are a lot of developers free with some excellent domain knowledge.

When it comes to a potential iWatch, I’m interested to see whether it has any substance, or if it’s a pure vanity/bling device

When it comes to a potential iWatch, I’m interested to see whether it has any substance, or if it’s a pure vanity/bling device. There are so many user experience questions that an iWatch opens up - how will it pair with a phone; will it be waterproof; and, most importantly, how do you charge it. Constantly charging your phone is a terrible experience, and not one many users will be willing to repeat with a watch.

With that said, perhaps what we actually need is a radical announcement about battery lives.

 

Owen Derby, Creative Director

Owen Derby

Dr. Dre becoming a senior member of apple … this kinda sounds like an Onion headline … except it’s true.

I wonder how Dre's lifestyle will fit in with Apple's squeaky clean image, and how stepping into the popular culture spotlight is a real change of direction for Apple.

Frankly, Beats is a seriously over-hyped brand. It’s products are some of the most expensive, sub-par, headphones and speakers I've used. Apple products are expensive, but you’re paying for quality and a great user experience (their design aesthetic helps too) but this is nearly the very opposite of Beats’ headphones.

Many people buy into the Beats brand, but they’re a getting terrible experience from it. Sadly most are blowing a load of cash to buy a status symbol that looks good, and has a ringing celeb hip hop producer endorsement.  It’s a powerful combo, and a licence to print money – but I’d like to see how this fits with the Apple brand.

With Apple, you get quality and a great user experience; this is nearly the very opposite of Beats’ headphones.
There's some who've linked the acquisition to Beats' music streaming subscription service, meaning apple can compete with Spotify etc .. so it's kind of a defensive move. Long term, I think they'll launch a streaming service and integrate Beats into the Apple range of headphones.

 

Emma Wade, UX Designer

Emma WadeI’m most curious about Apple’s Healthbook (and iWatch). We’ve heard a lot about what Healthbook may do, but I want to know how it’ll actually work. Potentially, it’ll be very exciting to be able to track your own blood pressure, hydration, heart rate and glucose levels. But how’ll this be done? From what I understand, Healthbook will pair with a new iWatch laden with health sensors.

The value of such an app depends on the accuracy of the data that it records, so I want to see how (and what devices) Apple’ll use to capture this information.

It sounds so promising, I hope it delivers.

 

Piers Scott, Content Strategist

Piers Apple has been relatively quiet about what could become a massive technology, and a huge industry – iBeacon. We’ve been looking at iBeacon a lot lately, and the potential for the technology is just astounding, from frictionless payments to real-time contextual notifications.

If it’s as powerful as industry insiders suggest, it could (and I say this with no sense of hyperbole) transform how we make in-store payments, pay for public transport, navigate our cities, and even communicate (using mesh networks).

The latest rumours suggest that Apple will be implementing iBeacon tech for home automation. This would truly bring UX into the home, place Apple in direct competition with Google Nest, and open a new niche for app developers.

 

Ciaran Harris, Director of Innovation

Ciaran Harris

I want to see Apple build on its existing ecosystem, and use this combined platform to deliver some really innovative services.

Little by little they’ve added to their AppleTV service, but they've never showered it with love or consistent design thinking. I'd love to see the AppleTV become more of a platform, rather than merely a container of services.

Dare-we-dream that we might even be able to search AppleTV and get results from all the content providers it has? It wouldn’t be too much to ask that they even offer filters so users can more easily explore content, would it? But seriously, AppleTV has been a hobby project too long, it needs to grow up, be counted, and become the hub for your automated Apple home.

With the acquisition of Beats subscription service, maybe it's time to bring more multi-device love to the Apple ecosystem. It seems the multi-device thinking exists between Safari & iCloud on Mac & iOS (iPhone, iPad) but not yet on many other apps or other devices (again, such as AppleTV).

Editing: Brian Herron | Illustration: Patrick Cusack