WWDC 2014


My take on this year’s WWDC in a nutshell: Incremental improvements galore, with a touch of disillusionment.

All in all, it was a logical progression from last year, further narrowing the feature gap between Apple‘s platforms and the competition’s – by which I mean that their borrowing of other platform’s UX is being done with their characteristic polish.

And I’m not just being cynical – I’ve been writing on and off about Apple tech for over a decade, and literally everything Craig Federighi presented fell into two categories:

  • stuff that was obviously long overdue (iCloud drive, storage providers, family account management, betas, etc.)
  • stuff I’ve already used on Android (interactive notifications, intents, third-party keyboards, etc.)

That’s it. I don’t want to diminish the engineering involved in bringing these about, but they’re simply not that novel. Yosemite looks nice, too, but it’s just not… interesting enough.

HomeKit and HealthKit don’t quite fit the above definitions, but I see them as market enablers – both tackle businesses that nobody has really cracked yet, and Apple’s huge developer community will bang at them until viable solutions emerge.

Technically, there were only two things of interest to me: Metal (and whatever other ways there are to leverage the GPU, besides those which are sure to be useful in Unity 3D) and CloudKit (which looks like it’s borrowing a page off Azure in terms of providing a back-end enabler), so I’ll be looking into either as time permits.

The Swift Elephant (In The Room)

As to Swift… Seriously? I learned Objective-C on a NeXT, but am not sorry to see it being replaced. It’s nice in its own way, but carries too much baggage.

I don’t think I’ll have any sort of problem learning Swift and see the point of bringing a JavaScript-like1 development experience to iOS, but I keep wondering why they feel the need to have vertical integration at the language level – it’s like training captive developers, even if the language does seem a little more mainstream.

But yes, color me unimpressed. I have other interests right now, and I think one of my tweets from tonight (which seems to have been rather popular) sums up my views rather neatly:

So let me see if I got this straight: Apple uses proprietary tech, Google can’t make up their minds, and Microsoft uses ECMA standards.

Kind of fitting that I gave away my iPad 3 yesterday, really – but I’m getting ahead of myself here, and will eventually write about that at length.


  1. It actually reminds me a lot of Go, including the near-instant compilation that makes the REPL possible. In fact, the most interesting thing about it for me is the playground, which is a cunning mix of marketing and productivity tool. ↩︎


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