Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

What Apple didn't announce at WWDC

Dan Moren | June 12, 2015
In which Dan Moren ponders what Apple declined to reveal, and handicaps our chances of seeing it anytime soon.

There are already some breadcrumbs that suggest that an Apple TV SDK isn't too far off, and it can't come soon enough, but a new set-top box is at the top of my list. In recent months I've switched much of my video consumption to the Fire TV, thanks to its support for services like Plex, its snappy performance, and features like voice search. In the meantime, my second-generation Apple TV has not only become stagnant--it didn't qualify for the latest significant software update--but in some cases has actually gotten less capable, as when Google killed YouTube's old API.

Nice as the Fire TV is, I'm eagerly anticipating a new Apple TV that will push Amazon's offering off its current living-room throne.

iPhone lock screen complications

Perhaps the best feature of the Apple Watch is its complications, which present useful information at a glance, all with no interaction from the user whatsoever. In watchOS 2, Apple's making those even more powerful by allowing third-party developers to have their own apps supply those complications on the watchface. But I'd been hoping for a lateral move where Apple might also allow a similar feature on the iOS lock screen.

While the lock screen on iOS has improved in recent years, it still falls far short of its potential. Right now it acts mainly as a clearing house for notifications, when it could be providing much more contextual information. I'd love, for example, to be able to pull out my phone and see the current weather conditions without doing anything more than bringing up the screen.

But I think an improved lock screen might still be on its way, based on two things. First, the aforementioned introduction of third-party complications in watchOS 2, which provides a precedent for this kind of glanceable information, and second, those same proactive features that Apple showed off for iOS 9. Having the capability to anticipate the information you need would seem to hand-in-hand with having that information easily accessible on your phone or tablet, without having to bring up a specific screen.

Much of that can, of course, be done with notifications on iOS, but the current notification scheme has plenty of limitations. It can be annoying to set up and maintain for developers, they only display in very limited ways, and they can very quickly turn into a barrage for the user who doesn't carefully manage them. Complications, by comparison, offer a very constrained format that present a fast but passive way of getting pertinent information.

The future is yet to come

Let it not be said that I'm unthankful for all the great new features and products that Apple did announce during this year's keynote. I'm glad to see the company address the iPad's vision problem, interested in whether Apple Music will finally convince me to pay for a streaming service, and intrigued to try iOS 9's many new features. But Apple's playing chess, not checkers, and it's always fun to try and decipher where the company's current moves position it for the future. Even if we have to wait until WWDC 2016 for the payoff.

 

Previous Page  1  2 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.