Will WWDC 2016 be another Apple snooze-fest? [Friday Night Fights]


Are you excited?
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple’s most recent keynotes have been a little… boring. Even die-hard fans have been left disappointed by the lack of action and surprises, but with WWDC 2016 right around the corner, many have high hopes that Apple’s about to buck that trend.

FNF-bugApple’s keynote will offer our first sneak peeks at iOS 10 and the next big upgrades to OS X, watchOS, and tvOS — plus possible refreshes for Apple Watch and various Macs. Will these things make up for the lack of excitement?

Join us in this week’s Friday Night Fight between Cult of Android and Cult of Mac as we talk about (argue over) all things WWDC!

cartoonluke_360.pngLuke Dormehl — Writer, Cult of Mac: It’s Friday — which means that it’s time for a bit of manly scrapping before heading off early for a drink at the local bar. Or, as you call that, a light weekday.

There was a fair bit of Apple-related news this week, but something I’m very excited about is hearing the confirmation date for WWDC. Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference always feels like a major event because it’s the start of the summer/fall upgrade cycle, when we’re introduced to the next-gen operating systems that will eventually arrive in time for the fresh crop of devices.

For one thing, there’s reportedly a major App Store upgrade, with improved searchability being one of the focuses. It’ll be Phil Schiller’s first WWDC overseeing the App Store, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that turns out to be a major focus.

Then there’s iOS 10 and the new MacOS, which should be exciting to witness. Interestingly, we’ve not seen many leaks at all this year, so the fanboy part of me kind of hopes this turns out to be a surprise-laden event.

On the Mac hardware front, I’m expecting eagerly-anticipated updates to the MacBook Air and (most exciting to me) Retina MacBook Pro lines, while there’s also the chance Apple will use the event to announce original programming for Apple TV — finally living up to the promise of the technology and putting Apple in a more direct rivalry with Netflix and Amazon. If that comes to pass, it will be absolutely massive — and certainly worth the price of admission in itself.

There are also all sorts of rumors about a second-gen Apple Watch, so we may also hear something about that — while there’s bound to be some updates on technology like Apple Pay, too.

While I think the upcoming quarterly earnings report is going to be better than some are anticipating (coming, as it does, at a time when iPhone business is starting to slow down), I do also feel that Apple will want to knock it out of the park at WWDC in terms of proving that, yes, there is still plenty of innovation coming out of Apple. I think it’ll be an exciting event to watch.

With a Cult of Android paycheck riding on it, I’m sure you’ll disagree, though.

Will we see a "one more thing" at WWDC 2016?
Will we see a “one more thing” at WWDC 2016?
Photo: Apple

Killian-FNFKillian Bell — Writer, Cult of Android: Luke, you couldn’t handle a manly scrap, so I’ll go easy on you.

First of all, I have to bring this up. “Something I’m very excited about is hearing the confirmation date for WWDC.” Is life really that boring for you? Can’t you take up fishing or join a gym or go joyriding or something?! I can understand you being excited about WWDC itself a day or a few days before Apple’s big keynote kicks off — but confirmation of the date? Geez.

I’ll certainly be looking forward to seeing what Apple has to show us nearer the time — as I do every year. Although I mainly use an Android smartphone, I do have an iPad and use OS X as well, so getting a sneak peek at what’s coming to those platforms is always nice. But I actually think this year’s event will a little disappointing.

It seems Apple has stopped saving big software features for its annual upgrades. For instance, iOS 9.3 brought Night Shift, Touch ID protection for the Notes app, support for multiple users on iPad, and lots of other improvements Apple would normally save for a WWDC unveiling. OS X also got Notes protection and many other things.

This suggests to me that there won’t be many major changes to look out for at WWDC. I’m sure there will be some, but I expect most of Apple’s improvements to be under the hood. We certainly aren’t going to see anything that will change the way we use iOS and OS X, though I am hoping there will be big improvements to watchOS. I doubt we’ll see new Apple Watch hardware until the fall.

I can’t get excited about new Macs, either. As I’ve mentioned before, I’d rather install OS X on a machine I’ve built myself and get a whole lot more for my money. Hackintoshes have all but ruined any joy I once had for new Mac announcements, but my bank balance looks better for it.

So, in a nutshell, I think WWDC will be just as boring as recent Apple events. Fans will appreciate what’s on the horizon, but we’ll have to wait for the iPhone 7 for real excitement — and some rumors suggest even that will disappoint.

cartoonluke_360.pngLuke: Wow. You must be a joy to live with Killian.

Firstly, confirmation of the date is exciting simply because it makes it all seem that much closer. Yes, it’s an irrational thing to get excited by — but, in the best, most handsome sense of the word (present company excluded) we’re all geeks aren’t we? Getting excited about the minutiae of what we love is part of the fun.

I’m honestly sad that you’re so jaded about Apple these days. WWDC tends to be one of the highlights of the year and it’s always a lot of fun to see such a focus on software from a company that built its name on hardware. As I mentioned, there’s plenty to look forward to at this year’s event — and that’s just going by the relatively few things we’ve heard about iOS 10 and the next MacOS (a name I think is going to be made official at the event).

Since it seems like we’re not going to agree on this, let me ask you a slightly different question: Are you seeing more excitement coming out of Google keynote events these days? Because, while there are a few promising ideas here and there, my impression of Android events has always been that they wind up being big bloated messes rather than the entertaining events Apple manages to stage.

Oh, and to cap off your “glass half empty” scenario, could it be that Apple’s released features like Night Shift and Touch ID protection for Notes with relatively little public fanfare, precisely because they’ve got much bigger things to fill the time with at WWDC? I don’t completely follow your logic.

iOS 9
iOS 9 was a nice upgrade, but iOS 10 needs to be even bigger.
Photo: Apple

Killian-FNFKillian: I’m not jaded about Apple, but I’m not blindly loyal. Yes, I use Android and other competing products, but I also recognize why the iPhone is so popular, and why hundreds of millions of people love iOS. It’s just that I’m not adverse to trying other things, so if I can get a better product from another company for the same money (or in most cases less money), I’ll do that.

When I first started writing for Cult of Mac, Apple was the most exciting company on the planet. It offered the best hardware with features you couldn’t get elsewhere, and the best software, which didn’t ship with the many issues Android had back then. But that’s not the case anymore; other companies are doing just as exciting things, and I’m not against using them.

Now, to answer your question about Google’s keynotes. Yes, I am seeing more exciting things, as I’ve mentioned in previous Friday Night Fights. Google’s keynotes throw up nice surprises — like Android Wear, virtual reality headsets, and more — that give fans something new to look forward to. Apple’s are predictable; even if you didn’t read the rumors, you could probably guess what the next iPhone refresh will bring.

If Apple does surprise us with big changes at WWDC, then I’ll be delighted to see them. I’m just not holding my breath.

cartoonluke_360.pngLuke: Well, I guess we don’t have too much longer to wait until then. Seeing as it’s a Friday I won’t put you down by speculating on what you did to be turfed out of writing for Cult of Mac and sent over to the desolate endless winter of the Android reporting world. But I assume it can’t have been good.

You repeatedly say that Apple’s not innovating, and yet every time a new Android device comes out it seems that it’s “borrowing” another idea from the apparently un-innovative Apple. But, hey, at least you Galaxy S7 owners finally have rose gold colored phones, right? Or is “pink gold” something different altogether?

Look, at the end of the day you and I are both tech fans — which means we probably want similar things from events like WWDC: to be awed by some amazing new device or piece of software we’ve wanted for years. Or had no idea we wanted but suddenly really, really need to complete our lives. Can Apple present world-changing media events several times per year for, by this point, forty years? No. Do I think you’re selling WWDC short because you’re no longer a regular Apple customer and you’d rather have the semi-fleshed out promise of a half-baked Android feature which may or may not ship a year from now? Definitely.

But perhaps I’m wrong — so let’s turn it over to readers. Do you have high hopes for this year’s WWDC? What would you like to see there? Or, like Killian, do you think we’re in for “another” Apple snooze-fest?

Friday Night Fights is a series of weekly death matches between two no-mercy brawlers who will fight to the death — or at least agree to disagree — about which is better: Apple or Google, iOS or Android?


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