I enjoy predicting things that Apple is going to do as much as the next guy, although I’m not always crazy about the result. My approach with predictions has always been one of cautious optimism; my trolling methodology of 90% sarcasm and 10% sensationalism is the opposite of many sites that generate a lot more hits than mine. So how did my measured predictions for WWDC pan out?
- iOS 6 and Mountain Lion (100%) – Maps was a no-brainer, but even I was surprised by the features demoed by Apple, particularly the turn-by-turn navigation with traffic update. I currently use Navigon, which also pulls traffic data from users. The problem is that maybe 2% of iPhones users also use this app. Imagine the depth of the data well Apple will be able to pull from for its traffic information once iOS 6 is in the wild. Making navigation available to iPhone 4S+ users will instantly increase accuracy by several orders of magnitude. The “Flyover” 3D mapping seemed nice, but I haven’t been able to form a hands-on opinion. Also surprising was the degree to which Apple was willing to partner Siri with 3rd parties such as OpenTable, Yahoo Sports, Rotten Tomatoes and Sports DB. This signals a move to make Siri a much more useful feature, and in my mind a must-add for any television product Apple is contemplating. Mountain Lion didn’t exactly get a date, but it did get a release month (July). I thought it was late in the development cycle for new features, but Apple did introduce dictation, which in itself undercuts an entire product category.
- New Apple hardware (90%) – all Apple hardware (with the exception of the iMac) did get a bump, and the MacBook Pro did get more svelte. Apple also forked the MBP line into those with and without a Retina Display, something I didn’t mention but seemed likely to appear in some form.
- More content available on the AppleTV (70%) – Nothing. Not a whiff. No HBO Go, no ESPN. I hope Apple has another announcement before the holiday season, because this ship is starting to sail – and it’s flying a Microsoft jolly roger.
- A refreshed interface (50%) and apps for the AppleTV (20%) – I didn’t think it was likely, and Apple mentioned nothing about the set-top box, with the exception of the portion of the Mountain Lion demo that featured AirPlay (which does look awesome).
- An AppleTV SDK (20%) – a lot of people thought it was a gimme; I didn’t see it happening. Apple has a lot more work to do on the content side – and it will have to address the AppleTV’s limited on-board storage – before it can release any APIs to the developer community.
- The iPhone 5 and an Apple television (0%) – only idiots predicted this, so I take no credit for stating the obvious.
Of all the things on display at the keynote, I was most pleasantly surprised by the new features in iOS 6. Even the “givens”, when fleshed out on stage, were much more impressive than the predictions made by the rumor mill. The Maps and Siri demos showed that Apple can still deliver in areas where it has no prior experience and make significant improvements to existing features. Facebook integration looks clean and useful. The Passbook demo showed us something that is “cool” today, but it also has the potential to be what Google Wallet dreams of being. All of the other refinements to apps like Mail, Safari, Facetime and even the Phone app show that the attention to detail given to Apple’s latest smartphone OS has reached into every corner of its functionality. This stands to be a huge upgrade, befitting the best smartphone on the planet.