This year’s WWDC keynote was a mere ‘S’ upgrade, but that’s OK

Apple maps out its future each year during WWDC at San Francisco's Moscone Center.
Apple maps out its future each year during WWDC at San Francisco's Moscone Center.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Every other year Apple releases an “S” version of the iPhone. Later this year, we’ll see the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. The “S” models generally deliver modest improvements — better cameras, better networking, faster chips. But the basic design remains the same. The “S” suffix means the same, but better.

And so it goes with this Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote. In terms of announcements of import, WWDC 2015’s kickoff was an “S” upgrade. It built on the spectacular announcements of last year, but didn’t break huge new ground.

And that’s OK. “S” upgrades are often underrated.

What if Apple’s Beats 1 turns out like BBC’s Radio 1?

dj
DJ Zane Lowe is heading up Apple's Beats 1 live radio station. If it's anything like the BBC's Radio 1 -- where Lowe made his name -- it could be the great music discovery mechanism that digital music's been looking for.

Please, please, please let Apple’s Beats 1 radio station be good.

Of all the announcements at Monday’s WWDC keynote, that’s the one I personally am most excited about. When it launches June 30, Beats 1 will be a 24-hour global radio station run by three DJs from three different cities around the world.

I’m a music junkie. I listen to music radio all the time, especially Radio 1, the BBC’s flagship radio station in London. To be honest, a lot of it sucks, but a lot of it doesn’t. It allows me — an expat Limey living in California — to keep tabs on Britain’s awesome musical culture.

And that’s what I’m hoping for — that Apple’s billions will privately fund a radio station that’s like the BBC’s publicly funded Radio 1 — on a global scale.

Apple hinted at such ambitions in the launch video played during Monday’s keynote. Done right, it could be the great music discovery mechanism the entire music industry’s been looking for.

Take a peek at the new version of OS X, El Capitan

Hair Force One rocking the El Capitan reveal.
Hair Force One rocking the El Capitan reveal.
Photo: Apple

Named after a giant granite cliff in Yosemite National Park, Apple’s latest version of OS X looks pretty good, with new ways to manage windows and better performance. Most importantly, it’s now easy to mute annoying audio in open browser windows!

Unveiled during the Monday morning keynote at Apple’s big WWDC programmers’ conference, Apple’s OS X version 10.11 is called “El Capitan.” It will be available to the public as a beta in July and a final release in the fall.

OS X El Capitan looks pretty nifty. It has several new window management features — including a split-screen mode — that make it productivity nirvana!

Here’s a recap of everything that was shown off Monday.

Our Facebook page has been hacked, and it’s impossible to get it back (Updated)

Cult of Mac's Facebook page has been taken over by hackers; and we're having trouble getting it back. It's impossible to contact Facebook.
Cult of Mac's Facebook page has been taken over by hackers, and we're having trouble getting it back.
Photo:

Update:We’re back! We were finally able to get hold of someone at Facebook and get our Facebook page back. Many thanks to everyone who tried to help and offered support. We contacted someone at Facebook through a reader in Chicago, who happens to work for a big newspaper. He had a contact in Facebook’s media team and called her up. Within minutes I received an email asking for details, and two minutes after that it was fixed. In fact, it was shocking how quickly the situation was reversed, given that we’d been wrestling with it for almost 24 hours — many thanks to the Facebook insider who fixed the problem for us. However, my thesis still holds — Facebook is a locked vault. If you don’t know someone who knows someone who works there, you’re SOL. Oh, and no word on what happened. I asked them, but no reply as yet.

Much to our horror, Cult of Mac’s Facebook page got hacked Monday and turned into a spam site. The hackers have locked us out and we’re finding it impossible to regain control.

We’re trying desperately to contact Facebook, but the company offers no customer support whatsoever. There are no online submission forms, no support email addresses, and the phone automatically hangs up on you if you call. It’s impossible to raise a human being over there.

It would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. But during this ongoing nightmare, I’ve discovered something important about Facebook and the kind of tech companies it represents.

Why Jony Ive’s promotion means more design, not less

Jony Ive and Steve Jobs talk during the first public FaceTime demo, which took place at WWDC 2010 in San Francisco.
Jony Ive and Steve Jobs talk during the first public FaceTime demo, which took place at WWDC 2010 in San Francisco.
Photo: Mathieu Thouvenin/Flickr CC

Apple is such a strange and secretive company, the news that Jony Ive has been promoted is instead widely interpreted that he’s on his way out.

The Telegraph revealed Monday that Ive has been promoted to Chief Design Officer and freed from the day-to-day running of Apple’s Industrial Design studio.

This was greeted with speculation that Ive is actually stepping back. He’s taking it easy, many theorized, easing into semi-retirement. He’s already halfway out the door, and will soon move back to the United Kingdom, seems to be the consensus among pundits.

I think this is Kremlinology in the extreme. And a little perverse. Apple is often obtuse, and sometimes disingenuous or even dishonest, but I think this news should be taken at face value.

Apple has characterized the move as a promotion, and it is. Ive has been moved up into a rare position that gives him a ton of freedom. He now has the breathing room to be what he really wants to be: a pure designer.

In fact, the promotion allows him to take on an even stronger and more Steve Jobs-like role. We will see more design work from him, not less.