WWDC 2021 Predictions and Wishes

• 9 min read

My predictions for WWDC 21 and the straining relationship between Apple developers and Apple leadership.

WWDC 2021 Predictions and Wishes

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Apple Leadership and Developer Relations

Marco Arment, creator of the podcast app Overcast, recently published a blog post sharing his thoughts and opinions on Apple’s leadership and their relationship with developers.

I am not a developer, but as someone that highly respects developers it is frustrating to see just how little Apple’s leadership seems to care about them.

To take a step back, you should know about the multiple sources Marco shared that shows numerous and consistent times where Apple required their slice of the pie regardless of whether the App Store offered any value other than being the only place for their apps to be available.

Without our apps, the iPhone has little value to most of its customers today.

If Apple wishes to continue advancing bizarre corporate-accounting arguments, the massive profits from the hardware business are what therefore truly “pay the way” of the App Store, public APIs, developer tools, and other app-development resources, just as the hardware profits must fund the development of Apple’s own hardware, software, and services that make the iPhone appeal to customers.

The forced App Store commissions, annual developer fees, and App Store Search Ads income are all just gravy. The “way” is already paid by the hardware — but Apple uses their position of power to double-dip.

And that’s just business. Apple’s a lot of things, and “generous” isn’t one.

But to bully and gaslight developers into thinking that we need to be kissing Apple’s feet for permitting us to add billions of dollars of value to their platform is not only greedy, stingy, and morally reprehensible, but deeply insulting.

[…]

Apple further extends the value argument, and defends their justification for forced commissions, by claiming responsibility for and ownership of the customer relationship between all iOS users and each app they choose to use.

This argument only makes sense — and even then, only somewhat — when apps are installed by a customer browsing the App Store, finding an app they hadn’t previously heard of, and choosing to install it based on App Store influence alone.

But in the common case — and for most app installations, the much more common case — of searching for a specific app by name or following a link or ad based on its developer’s own marketing or reputation, Apple has served no meaningful role in the customer acquisition and “deserves” nothing more from the transaction than what a CDN and commodity credit-card processor would charge.

The idea that the App Store is responsible for most customers of any reasonably well-known app is a fantasy.

I wish I knew what the answer should be, but all I can say is that the status quo right now isn’t good enough, and it leaves me entering WWDC with a bad taste in my mouth.

I’ve never felt this conflicted about Apple into a keynote, and I doubt I will leave the keynote any less conflicted, because this elephant in the room is going to be ignored.

If you want to hear more about this, listen to the latest episode of ATP here.


WWDC Predictions and Wishes

As I send this newsletter, WWDC, Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, is mere hours away from starting. While I said I have mixed feelings before, I am still optimistic and hopeful that Apple will deliver some fantastic updates for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. I am sure tvOS and watchOS will also get improvements, but as I don’t use either of those devices I can’t speak to them.

Here’s what I am expecting and hoping to see.

iOS 15 Predictions and Wishes

Widget Enhancements and Additions

Widgets has been a monumental addition for iOS, and I hope Apple doubles and triples down on this for the iPhone and iPad.

I want to see iOS (and iPadOS for that matter) to have more widgets available, different sizes, and an expanded API for developers to utilize the widgets more.

Right now, iOS widgets are basically shortcuts to open a specific part of an app. What I would like to see is widgets to have more capabilities on the iPhone and iPad where I can perform certain actions inside the widget without ever having to open the app.

For instance, I would love a media player widget on my home screen where I can play/pause audio. I would also love to have Drafts actions be able to run in the background with single tap of a button.

Messages Improvements

From the App Store Story to the hashflag on Twitter, it is clear that Messages is going to be a big part of the keynote this year. I feel there are some no-brainer ideas to improve Messages, such as:

  • Unsend messages
  • Edit sent messages
  • Better Reaction interface
  • iMessage Group improvement (nothing specific, but I hope for quality of life improvements)

Shortcuts Additions and Improvements

It is time for banner notifications to be an option, not a necessity with Shortcuts. For too long I have seen banners like the one below every time Shortcuts runs an automation, which leaves a lot to be desired in the iOS experience.

Share Sheet Improvements

Christopher Lawley has “modernize the share sheet (It’s a mess)” and I agree completely.

iPadOS 15 Predictions and Wishes

External Monitor Support

Before I bought my MacBook Air, I tried using my iPad with a 4K external monitor. I connected it to my iPad and used an external mouse and keyboard with it. It was almost like using a Mac in clamshell mode, but the problem was that unlike a Mac or PC, the aspect ratio stayed the same 4:3 instead of changing to 16:9 to fit modern computer screens. This lead to big black pillars to the left and right of the screen that are effectively useless with the iPad. Even though I bought a 24” monitor, I was barely using 20” of the screen. After a couple days with it I decided it wasn't for me.

My hope is that in iPadOS 15 when you plug an iPad into a monitor it will automatically adjust the iPad aspect ratio to fit the monitor you are using.

Apple Pro Apps

With the new M1 iPad Pros the power is clearly present, but what is missing is software that can utilize it all. I would love to see Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro both available as full-fledged apps in iPadOS 15. It is time for Apple to stop saying how the iPad is a computer replacement and start showing it.

Multi-tasking improvements

The iPad hasn’t had a big change to how multi-tasking works since Split View and Slide Over were introduced many years ago. While I am happy to see on the iPad it is time to innovate and improve upon this. iPadOS 15 could use some new and improved multitasking options like some form of windowing (this tweet by Jordan Singer shows what it could potentially look like). I can also see the case for more than 2 apps available at a time on the iPad Pro.

Whatever Apple decides, I hope to leave the keynote excited about using the iPad like I was when Split View and Slide Over were introduced.

Background Processing

As I said in a previous newsletter, Why I Bought a Mac, one of the biggest gripes I have about the iPad Pro is that there is little to no parallelism.

One of the main reasons I love the iPad is that it allows me to focus on the singular task that matters and the rest stays out of my way. That said, there are more and more instances where I need parallelism in my computing life and until the iPad manages to make that happen the Mac is going to be my go-to computer for those kinds of tasks.

If the iPad were to come out with some form of parallelism I wouldn’t trade my MacBook back (there is more to this machine than running multiple things at once), but it would allow those who are living the iPad-only lifestyle the ability to utilize the full power of the iPad hardware and not have to consider spending more money on another device.

macOS

As a returning macOS user, I really can’t say too much about what Apple needs to do, except bring Shortcuts, or an iteration of Shortcuts, to macOS.

With the M1 processor and refinements in Big Sur I think it is a fantastic runway for Shortcuts to come on board to the Mac.I think it is time for the Mac to do away with Automator, and make Shortcuts available on Apple Silicon Macs. I am not expecting Mac's version 1.0 to be spectacular, but I do hope to see Apple make the leap and allow for Shortcuts to be cross-platform.

Also, The latest episode of ATP did mention making the next update for macOS to be like Snow Leopard, which is no new features but rather a plethora of improvements and bug squashing, which seems A-OK to me.

Other Great WWDC Predictions


Weekly Workflow: Daily Notes in Craft

Craft, a note taking app I highly regard, recently came out with a big update with the addition of Daily Notes.

At first, I didn’t know what to do with them, but after watching a few videos from Curtis McHale, Maggi Fuchs, and Jay Miller it clicked for me. So this week, instead of regurgitating what these fine folks have said I thought I let them take over for the weekly workflow.

I also found some other Craft resources that I have added to my ongoing list, but I felt they need a shoutout of their own here.


Weekly Roundup

Chris Hannah shares some very cool wallpapers, which were an instant buy for me. You can buy them on his Gumroad page here.

Matt Birchler shares how to make your wallpapers change on macOS depending on whether you have Dark mode or Light mode enabled.

I want to see if there is a way to make this happen via Shortcuts for iOS and iPadOS as well, but with WWDC coming I haven’t been able to play around with this yet. If anyone wants to share a Shortcut with me I will happily share it in next issue of Tablet Habit.

Speaking of Matt Birchler, he also shared a fantastic concept for smaller widgets on iOS, and it makes me drool just looking at them.

The finalists were announced for the 2021 Apple Design Awards, and there were some interesting choices made here. Winners will be announced June 10th.

Looks like the popular scratchpad app Tot is going on sale today for iOS and iPadOS. I personally love the app in Slide Over, and at this price it is worth a try.

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