Losing My Apple Religion. Seeking Salvation At WWDC.

I have crazy-high expectations for Apple’s worldwide developer conference. I expect, at minimum:

  • An iPhone phablet
  • iPad split-screen multi-tasking, necessary for the enterprise, awesome for gaming
  • Touch ID APIs to support mobile payments
  • Seamless inter-app communications
  • Apps that can actually push data onto the home screen — because we are adults and this is the 21st century
  • 25GB free iCloud storage per device

That’s just for starters.

What I mostly expect from WWDC is neither new products nor long-overdue enhancements but rather, affirmation. Too often of late it appears that:

  • Ecosystem trumps product
  • Brand usurps technology
  • Growth precedes usability
  • Margin before accessibility

Does anyone else feel this way?

The creeping doubts refuse to leave — even as I happily work on my MacBook, play on my iPad and yearn for that large screen iPhone.

WWDC Pilgrimage

Today, we mark our annual pilgrimage to WWDC. We learn of the many new products, the updates to Apple’s operating systems, extensions to the platform, the new and better paths to monetize content and services. Everything, no doubt, will be better than before, better than what can be had anywhere else.

That should be enough. Why is it not?

Because we long time users — the Apple faithful — have always held Apple to a higher, more personal standard. Apple is more than a business, even as it has become the world’s biggest business. Why else would we care so much about a developer’s conference?

Apple will never again be run by Steve Jobs. Pirate Apple has become Corporate Apple. Understood. Nonetheless, we want Apple, more so than any other company, and no matter how big, how global, how rich it becomes, to stay motivated not by profits but by an absolute and unwavering:

  • commitment to innovation

Even as iPhone implants itself at the center of our computing life, we expect Apple to:

  • disrupt everything

Is this true of today’s Apple? WWDC will affirm our faith, or dash it.

Clearly, we hold Apple to an impossible standard, not merely a higher one. If Elon Musk can build a reusable space capsule capable of ferrying astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station, why can’t Apple? Why must Apple spend the equivalent of 150 Dragon V2 spacecraft on a single headphone company?

dragon v2

These are the wrong questions.

Apple cannot do everything, cannot be everything. It’s simply unfair and unproductive to make Apple our litmus test upon which to judge all technological advancement and innovation. They make computing products and services. Nonetheless, we can’t help but demand Apple, especially Apple, relentlessly innovate, incite countless new revolutions, lift humanity to ever greater heights, with little more than screens that connect us to the world and connect us to our talents, the parts known and the parts yet-to-be discovered.

Believe Different

Belief sustained the Apple faithful through the dark times. It is this same belief that is now called into question. We want badly to believe in today’s Apple, and not merely admire its many products.

We want to believe blocking our messages was a bug, not hubris.

We want to believe China is not just about more billions, but about bringing the best of American technology to the world.

We want to believe CarPlay and “HomePlay” and “HealthBook” and Passbook are about making our lives simpler, better, not merely add-ons to enrich the ecosystem.

We want to believe that positioning the iPhone at the center of our digital life is empowering, not lock-in.

We come to WWDC to be inspired.  

WWDC faithful

One Of A Trillion

As Apple continues along its inexorable path toward a $1,000,000,000,000 valuation, we hope the company remains personally connected with each of us, somehow.

In a world of big data and globe-hopping algorithms, driverless cars and autonomous bots, we expect Apple, more than any other organization, to power personal connections and accelerate human ingenuity throughout the world. We want it all to just work, exactly as we desire, even as the company extends across a billion customers.

That Apple will introduce more and better devices and services at WWDC is a given. Success is assured. The iOS moat is already so wide, so deep, as to make the company practically unassailable. The company’s shimmering glass headquarters will soon rise over Cupertino, its future set for decades to comes.

It’s not enough. Not for me, not for many of us, I suspect.

Fair? Of course not. But past performance influences present expectations. Which is why I say: Be a crazy one once again, Apple. Show us you are fully prepared to disrupt yourself just as you gleefully disrupt the world. Make us believe that you do now and always will think different.

WWDC has begun. The floor is yours, Apple. No pressure.

Published by

Brian S Hall

Brian S Hall writes about mobile devices, crowdsourced entertainment, and the integration of cars and computers. His work has been published with Macworld, CNBC, Wall Street Journal, ReadWrite and numerous others. Multiple columns have been cited as "must reads" by AllThingsD and Re/Code and he has been blacklisted by some of the top editors in the industry. Brian has been a guest on several radio programs and podcasts.

41 thoughts on “Losing My Apple Religion. Seeking Salvation At WWDC.”

  1. WWDC is a software meeting and not a hardware announcing meeting. So your wishing for new gadgets is superfluous and raises hopes that are unlikely to be fulfilled. You also mention “big data and globe-hopping algorithms, driverless cars and autonomous bots”. Are you sure these exist for the public to get at reasonable, affordable prices.

    This whole article one more of the sort of Apple deriding scribes to gain readers impressions to increase your income whilst saying nothing but the impossible.

    1. “WWDC is a software meeting and not a hardware announcing meeting. So your wishing for new gadgets is superfluous…” – Rudolf Charel

      Agreed. Like expecting to get Christmas presents on Easter and then, when they don’t arrive, blaming the Easter Bunny for not being Santa Clause.

    2. Apple does show off hardware at WWDC. That said, I am not expecting a ‘iPhone 6’ to be revealed. I am expecting iOS sessions that reveal a large screen iPhone is imminent. I used brevity in my bullet point when I should have made that clear.
      Also, you are using the word ‘deriding’ incorrectly.

      1. They rarely show hardware at WWDC which you know.
        I want to see a new Apple TV with the ability to write apps for it. That is one piece of hardware that would be good to show at WWDC if they are showing anything.

      2. “Also—–incorrecly” like you caught me out on numerous statements.
        One definition of deriding would be mocking which goes well with the sort of article you write under this heading.

      3. Well luckily for you, the new XCode does indicate new display sizes by having a “resizable iPhone, resizable iPad” option for different models. Happy now? Probably not, the very fact that you were expecting Apple to announce 3 months before an official product introduction that “a large iPhone is on the way, here are all the deets” means you were likely never going to be satisfied. Not even taking into account all the other ridiculous “demands” you have for Apple, as if they owed you something.

        I come to this site for truly thoughtful and intelligent commentary, not for immature and irrational self-entitlement articles. I can go anywhere else for that.

  2. “iPad split-screen multi-tasking, necessary for the enterprise, awesome for gaming”

    For gaming? How?

    My Samsung Tab Pro has this feature. I turned it off. IMO this is nearly pointless on a sub 10″ tablets.

    1. It would be good to sometimes use two windows at the same time eg when we’re reading and chatting to friends or when we are preparing texts but other than that it is pointless to me I agree.

  3. It will be hard for Apple to disappointment me because I’ve paid no attention to the rumors so I will be surprised at whatever comes. Pleasantly surprised, I hope. But surprised no matter what.

  4. Don’t worry, everyone will be disappointed, again. As people who are not programmers always are after a WWDC keynote. Apple will once again improve the strongest computing platform on the market, but every person is bored with it already. This is the problem of creating consistent, high quality work that is successful. When you create more consistent, high quality work, it is boring. When you create failures, it is exciting!

  5. Brian, I think you would know not to expect new iOS hardware (“iPhone phablet”) at WWDC. So unsure if you put that in as sarcasm or exaggeration. Regardless, your article would’ve been much better off without that one item, which detracts.

    As for the split-screen, I hope Apple would’ve explored the use cases where such an element is valuable, and then designed a elegant solution (with or without split-screens). I agree with the rest of your “starter” list and would also add AirDrop between Macs and iOS devices.

    I also hope Apple finds the right balance between talking “business” (as many developers do want to hear about the financial (growth, brand) aspects of the ecosystems) and talking “product” (i.e., the many new ways to use iOS and OS X to do the new jobs-to-be-done and to do the previous jobs in even better ways).

      1. macrumors is reporting that Xcode 6 is allowing for developers to test “Resizable iPhone” and “Resizable iPad”

        1. That’s what I wanted! Thanks! It’s also what I was expecting — my bad for letting brevity (bullet points) imply actual hardware. With today’s iOS changes, I expect that iPhone phablet by October at the very latest.

  6. An iPhone phablet”

    And you were disappointed in 5c sales? I don’t think they will be the run away hit analysts are expecting. I think the 5s size will continue to be dominant. I still want a latest generation internals in a 4s size. I really am liking the 5s size less and less.


  7. Brian, ever since you switched to MSFT phone your articles have been almost leadins to a article of “Why didn’t they” disappointment. Maybe I’m just a bit of a plain Jack, but I need more mundane advances, No driverless useless cars, no bots, just being able to better easier copy and paste between apps would be nice. As an example, you know real world stuff. Or maybe Airplay my Keynote slides up to my Apple TV. I can see your post WWDC article now, “How Apple Disappoints ME!!!”

  8. “Belief sustained the Apple faithful through the dark times. It is this same belief that is now called into question.”

    I grok what you’re saying here 🙂 but for me it wasn’t so much belief as it was reality. I used Apple products through the ‘dark times’ because they were better, simpler, more elegant, easier to use (time is money after all). It always seemed obvious that making the whole widget was a superior approach (vertical integration baby!). I guess it just took a while for the world to catch up to Apple. Go vertical or go home.

      1. Well, if you’re disappointed after that keynote, I’d say you’re nuts. Here comes the Apple Network of Things.

  9. Slightly off topic but a friend had this question about driverless cars with no steering wheels. You go to a party, the owner is directing people to park on his yard because the driveway is full. How does one get a steering wheel absent driverless car to do such a normal if not frequent operation?

    I suspect that no one will “own” a driverless car. They will be the choice for companies like Zipcar to avoid dozens of scenarios like the above.

    There are many unanswered questions about driverless cars. It might not be the panacea that people expect.

    1. While I do think we expect too much, where these machines suffer is in marketing. If it were called a 3 Dimensional Transporter, it would be more interesting. An elevator is a One Dimensional Transporter, and a monorail is a Two Dimensional Transporter after all… They seem quite useful.

      1. A 3 dimensional transporter that does not really exist which is why there are still many unanswered questions about it. Elevators and monorails are generally not considered adequate replacements for cars.

        I think Google is doing great work with their driverless car research but that is all it is currently, research.

        1. I do agree with you. The driverless car is far off, but a driverless bus isn’t. I can see these things as shuttles to/from various venues.

          1. The bus is what I was thinking is the 3d transporter. Maybe driverless cars would be called the “last mile” and “non-scheduled” (buses rarely operate on a schedule I can use) 3d transporter.


    2. Google’s driverless car, project Loon, Google Glass, low orbit internet satellites all advance Google’s goal of data collecting and selling targeted ads.

      The driverless car, the user signs in with a G+ account and you give Google your travel and shopping habits.

      Maybe one day users can get free transit in these driverless cars, if users agree to be subjected to ads on a dashboard LCD?

      While Google does some amazing things, many of them can and will be used to collect data and sell ads.

      Maybe I’m a grumpy old man but that’s not a world that I want to live in.

  10. And mirrors trump windows. The old content streams … tunes, games, apps, shows, books … will be replaced by the new content stream … us … our health, wealth, family, home, work.

      1. And here I thought I was unleashing a new meme … I guess the lesson is it’s all squirrels.

    1. That’s exactly right, personal computing means personal content, all secured in a vertical silo. Can any other company do what Apple is doing now?

      1. Yep. And private content streams will upstage social content streams like Facebook.

        Identity trumps pseudo celebrity.

  11. I’m not even a developer and I think this year’s WWDC keynote was the most significant keynote in a long time, perhaps ever. I can’t think of one where Apple laid out its vision for the next few years as plainly and comprehensively as Tim and Craig did last Monday.

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