WWDC 2017

I thought I’d jot a few notes about next weeks WWDC, Apple’s major developer conference. Full disclosure: I’ve not been following the rumour sites very closely this year. I’ve not even done as much iOS development since WWDC 2016 as I have for the last few, so what follows is just a wish list. It’s based on neither leaks nor an in depth knowledge of failings of the current developer tools.


WWDC is normally a time for software announcement but so much of Apple’s hardware is currently stale that it would be disappointing if nothing is updated before September.

Pretty much every Mac and iPad Pro could do with an refresh. We know not to expect a Mac Pro update, but anything else would be fair game. An update to last years MacBook Pros would be a decent indication that the “Pro” market is still a segment that Apple wishes to serve.

Personally I’m not currently in the market for new hardware, but good and frequent updates would show that my platform of choice will remain viable.

Development tools

In the last year I’ve written an Apple TV app and a small Mac app. The former I used as a exercise in learning Swift. What I found was that I liked the language but hated the tools.

Xcode is just less stable, slower and less complete when using Swift. I also picked a time where open source projects were transitioning from Swift 2 to 3, so not all projects worked together nicely. (I ended up using no third-party libraries for just this reason.)

Based on this experience, when I wanted the Mac app to be something I put together super-quickly, I chose Objective-C instead. I missed Swift-the-language but I appreciated the return of a usable Xcode. Call me a Luddite, but on balance I think I preferred boring but stable. (I also used Cocoa Bindings which feels much more natural in a language like Objective C.)

So my wish is simple: a Swift development environment that’s as smooth, fast and complete as when coding in Objective-C.


Despite the negative press, iCloud has mostly worked well for me. Famous last words. Last year, Apple fixed my last core complaint: that it wasn’t possible to share CloudKit records between users. I’ve not seen many apps that use it yet, though.

What’s left?

Firstly: storage sizes. It feels that the amount of space you get isn’t very generous. The 5Gb “free” space just isn’t enough. You should be able to back up all your iOS devices. And the storage tiers should probably be cheaper or give you more space for the same money.

Secondly: I love iCloud Photos. Take a photo on my iPhone, have it instantly appear on my Apple TV. Download my DSLR pictures to my iPad, have them available on my Mac without any extra work. What’s not to like? Well, each device has its own database of Faces and other metadata. I should get the same results for the same search term on all devices.

Thirdly: more Continuity. The main thing I’d like to see is continuity between the various Music apps. Start listening to a playlist on your iPad, pick it up on your iPhone when you leave home or on your Apple TV when you want to share it more widely.


I upgraded my personal Mac to Sierra but my work computer is still on El Capitan. Day to day I notice very little difference.

This sounds like a bad thing but, actually, it’s not. I broadly like 10.11. It’s stable and fast for me. I think for the next version I’d just like them to finish what they started.

Does Siri on the Mac feel finished to anyone? What about all the extras in iOS Messages that never made it to the Mac? The web (and Chrome) are always advancing, so there’s always work to be done on Safari.

There is a feeling of stagnation on the Mac but maybe that’s inevitable at this stage of development. Do we really need major annual updates any more? I wasn’t convinced this cadence is useful or sustainable when they announced it. I’m still not sure.


As a younger platform, iOS clearly has more room for growth than macOS, but with a decades development much of the low hanging fruit has already been picked.

Overall, I’m fairly happy with iOS on the iPhone. Sure, there are tweaks. How about being able to configure the Control Centre? Or change the default apps from the Apple-supplied version? (For what it’s worth, I prefer Safari to Chrome and would probably stick with Mail.app, but competition would be good.)

But the iPad… so much of what was added in iOS 9 still feels unfinished. I love side-by-side apps but I hate having to switch between those apps. I often also want to switch the two running apps, but there’s no simple way that I’ve found.

Ultimately this is similar to the macOS situation: refinement and finishing what’s already there. I don’t think we need a revolution this year.

Apple TV

Some progress, any progress, here would be good. I like my Apple TV but it’s not cheap compared with the competition and the App Store is not exactly vibrant. Some of the recommended apps, for example, are still the same launch titles. Not good for two years later. (I hesitate to conclude that traffic in the App Store is low based on downloads of my own app… but it is a data point that suggests so.)

Is it a games machine? If so, why do Apple only sell one controller? Is it for TV? Then where (in the U.K.) are the ITV and Channel 4 apps? Where is Amazon Video? As the industry moves to 4K, why is it only HD?

Apple seem not to know what to do with it, so my wish would be some statement of intent.


The funny thing is, desipite using both the Mac and iOS devices all day, every day, I’m pretty happy overall. Maybe it just indicates a lack of imagination on my part but my vote for this year would be simple, incremental updates.