No, it’s not just you. WWDC’s keynote this year was pretty underwhelming.
This year’s keynote felt like an afterthought, full of announcement for features all too familiar to many of us who regularly pay attention the the tech industry. Try as it might to spin them as new, Apple’s announcements this year were just a bunch of “me too” moves inspired by competitors and popular apps.
To name a few:
- Moto X Active Display, which lets you pick up your phone and glance at notifications (a 3-year old feature for Moto X)
- Spotify Discover Weekly, a curated playlist that Apple instead spins daily
- Android Wear handwriting support, which lets you write to reply on your smartwatch
- Google Photos, which uses machine learning to recognize people in photos and makes movies from your photographic journey
- Instagram Photos Map, which visually lays out on a map where you took each picture
- Cortana, an AI assistant available on the desktop
Not to mention its rebrand of the News and Music app look a little bit like Bloomberg.com. And these were just a few noticeable ones – it’s surely not the first to release a command center to connect all your internet of things, nor text and photo messages that are private until you swipe to see the content.
That’s not to say the keynote wasn’t at least fun to watch. Apple tried including more diverse presenters on stage, bringing life and color to the keynote. There was music, dancing, a sing-along attempt. There was a little shade thrown at Window for good measure. Apple knew how to poke fun at itself, and understand its consumers want silly things like larger emoji and text animations. Craig Federighi couldn’t even hold his laugh in when showing off the emojification of iMessages.
— Natt การุณรังษีวงศ์ (@nattgarun) June 13, 2016
Meanwhile, there’s a wheelchair mode for HealthKit and watchOS! It’s a feature the handicapped community have long asked for, but it only got five minutes of stage time versus more than double that time on text messages that can be translated into emoji.
At the end of the day, WWDC 2016 was neither innovative nor inspiring, and it makes me fear for the next generation of iOS apps that integrate these mindless features for the hell of it.
Which is disappointing, given that CEO Tim Cook opened the event with a moment of silence for the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting. Mr. Cook, if you’re going to start the keynote with a nod to one of the most tragic things that happened to the nation this year, your products should push tech-forward thinkers to create solutions to these issues, not how to make iMessages more eye-popping.
And if that was never your intent to start, then at least create something original rather than rip off a bunch of three-year-old features and calling it 2016.