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At WWDC 2019, each of Apple’s software platforms — iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and now iPadOS — took a step forward, focusing on continuity and privacy. But all of this starts with the developer. The company is making life easier for developers to build apps across the Apple ecosystem with continuity that makes life better for users. Our takeaways:
WWDC typically either covers a broad range of topics or goes deep on select few topics. This year it was both, highlighted by the following themes:
- It’s just private – Apple is in a position to deliver privacy like no other tech company.
- Making life easier for developers – Apple is making it easier for developers to build apps with SwiftUI and Catalyst, which ultimately benefits users with more, better, and easier to use apps.
- Apple Watch becomes more independent and useful – Standalone watchOS apps and a Watch-based App Store will make Apple Watch more useful.
It’s Just Private
Privacy is one of the tent pole features that extends across all Apple platforms and is an important identifier of the brand. Apple’s business model gives them the luxury of not selling customer data. Their ownership of hardware + software + services allows them to deliver privacy in ways that other tech companies can’t. Apple is bringing the “it just works” user experience approach to privacy — “it’s just private.”
Consumers want privacy. However, our research suggests they don’t want to put effort into improving their privacy. In fact, LD Winter Women 'S Woolen Coat with a Long Section of the Warm Jacket Coat Female, we asked, “how much time would you spend managing privacy settings if given better control?” 40% of users responded, “I would not spend any time,” and 85% of users would spend no more than 15 minutes. In other words, people just want it private, and Apple is in a unique position to deliver on that.
For example, HomeKit Secure Video will analyze home security camera footage on an Apple device in your home (e.g., HomePod or Apple TV) instead of sending it to the cloud. Sign in With Apple offers an alternative to the option of signing in with Facebook or Google and will allow greater control over what data users share with online services. Apple will actually create a fake email address in place of sharing your own. These features are only possible inside of a tightly integrated ecosystem as they leverage households with multiple Apple devices, a developer network, on-device hardware capabilities like FaceID, the Secure Enclave, and more. New privacy features are exposing another hidden advantage of the Apple ecosystem.
Making Life Easier for Developers
We conducted a small (30 developers) “buzz” survey at WWDC, asking a simple question: “What was the most significant announcement from today’s keynote?” SwiftUI was the answer for 70% of respondents, with the remaining 30% split among privacy, dark mode, Mac Pro, Catalyst, and iPadOS. Notably, none of the 30 respondents mentioned ARKit 3.0. SwiftUI was the consensus pick based on the belief that it will simplify and speed up the app development process. The concept is not new. Google already has a similar tool called Flutter, but it is new to Apple. Bottom line: developers crave tools that make their lives easier.
The company also announced Catalyst, which allows developers to build once and deploy across multiple Apple platforms. This increases the return on investment for developers to build for Apple, given they can quickly port apps to iOS, macOS, iPadOS, and watchOS.
Apple Watch Becomes More Independent and Useful
The use cases for the Watch have long been debated, due in part to consumers not being aware of the available watchOS apps. There were two announcements related to this today: The ability to access the App Store directly on Apple Watch, and standalone Watch apps that do not require an iOS companion app. These changes should increase consumer awareness of watchOS apps and drive developers to create more and better Watch apps. As Apple Watch becomes more useful over time, this should have the effect of increasing demand for Apple Watch, which now accounts for about 5% of revenue.
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Earlier this week, we wrote about Le Gali Womens Margo Embroidered Pleated Mini Dress. We wanted to follow up that piece with our own review of the Oculus Quest, broken down into three parts: what we love, what we wish was better, and what features need to be added for long-term mainstream adoption.
What We Love About The Oculus Quest
- The thing we love most about the Quest is the feature that sets it apart from everything that has come before it – accessibility. Quite literally, you slip the headset on, and you are in virtual reality. The Quest senses when it is in use and automatically boots up where you left off. We also own an HTC Vive, but because the Quest requires no setup vs. the Vive’s extensive process, most of our future use will likely shift to the Quest.
- The setup for the Quest is incredibly simple. The ease of use is one of the biggest differentiating factors compared to other HMDs. Users aren’t required to connect cords to their computer or set up base stations. The maintenance for tethered-HMDs, along with the launch of experiences is burdensome. Although there are more technically advanced HMDs, the balance of quality and ease of use makes the Quest more compelling to us.
- The Quest is an affordable 6DoF HMD priced at $399. This is a much lower entry point for a high-quality VR experience when compared to tethered-headsets that require powerful PCs (all-in ~$1,500).
- The hand tracking works great, and manually setting the boundaries of your play area is both useful and easy to do.
- The launch library has excellent, high replay value experiences. Here are some of our favorites:
- First Steps (Free)
- Vader Immortal ($10)
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- Tilt Brush ($20)
- Fruit Ninja ($15)
What We Wish Was Better
- The battery only lasts ~2 hours per full charge. While many users aren’t spending more than 2 hours in a continuous VR session, this does impact the portability of the device and has an impact when multiple users are taking turns in VR.
- The Quest is heavy and can be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time, especially if Leak Proof Hydrate Water Bottle Plastic Fast Water Flow, Flip Top, BPA Free & Eco-Friendly That said, the adjustment system is the most intuitive we have used.
- At launch, there are few multiplayer games. As gaming continues to become more social, users will want to see more multiplayer content if they are going to increase the utilization of VR.
- The ability to share a VR experience with onlookers through a smartphone or TV cast is important and possible but is not brought to the attention of users, which we think is a missed opportunity.
What Is Needed For Mainstream Adoption
- Long-term, VR headsets will need to have all-day comfort as more experiences become available and as users spend more time in VR.
- Battery life on standalone 6DoF HMDs needs to improve. Its current ~2hr length needs to be extended at least 3x.
- AAA gaming titles need to become available in VR. Users don’t want to play experiences that seem like game demos. Instead, they want to be immersed in the worlds of their favorite games.
- VR needs a killer app. We believe this will be the Metaverse.
- Network effects need to take hold so friends start playing with friends. Right now, most people play by themselves or with strangers. Though VR, strangers are surprisingly more friendly than any online community we’ve been a part of.
- VR needs the support of popular content creators on YouTube and Twitch.
Apple begins its annual developer conference on Monday. We think that most of the headlines around the announcements are widely known, so we’re preemptively shifting from “preview” mode to “take away” mode. History suggests investor disappointment will follow the event given the likely absence of any material hardware product announcements. This reaction misses the point of WWDC: give developers the tools to build world-class software and services. By that measure, we believe this year’s WWDC will be a success.
We expect next week to be about giving more control to users and developers, continuing a steady shift from Apple’s traditional approach of tightly controlling the experience. These updates will increase retention, expand Apple’s 1.4B active device base, and give developers more opportunities to make money on Apple’s platform, a driver of Services growth.
The Innovation Question
Some may view Monday’s event as an indictment that Apple is struggling with innovation. The only new hardware to be highlighted would be an already-announced but not-yet-shipped Mac Pro, which accounts for less than 1% of revenue. The lack of hardware updates at WWDC is to be expected, given the company rarely announces new hardware at the event. Last year’s conference headliner was the new privacy and screen time managing features in iOS. We believe the better measure of innovation is to consider Apple’s announcements over a 2-year period. With that perspective, the company has more recently innovated around services (March announcement of Apple TV+, Apple Card, and Arcade) and next year (fall of 2020) Apple will likely announce a 5G iPhone. While 5G is not unique to Apple, what Apple does with 5G technology will be innovative, including advancing AR, healthcare, and autonomous vehicles.
Notable Announcements at This Year’s WWDC
- Marzipan, making it easier for developers to build once and deploy across multiple macOS and iOS. The code-named “Marzipan” tool makes it easier to port iOS apps onto the Mac, which allows developers to sell on iOS and Mac App Stores without reconfiguring their apps. It looks like Apple has been working on new Music, Books, TV, and Podcasts apps for macOS that will replace iTunes, likely Marzipan apps themselves. Important for Apple to eat what it cooks, as they’ve already done with the macOS Stocks app.
- Apple Watch-based App Store. This is important for two reasons: First, the use cases for the Watch have long been debated, due in part to consumers not being aware of the available watchOS apps. We believe an App Store on the Watch will increase consumer awareness. Second, increased awareness will drive developers to create more and better Watch-based apps and the Watch should become more useful over time. This should have the small effect of increasing demand for Apple Watch, which now accounts for about 5% of Apple’s revenue.
- New iMessage with WhatsApp-like profiles including photos. Apple currently offers iMessage plug-ins, but a more robust iMessage profile lays the groundwork for more advanced third-party in-message apps.
Other Possible Announcements
- iOS 13 with dark mode (likely)
- New home screen (very vague rumors)
- Core app updates (likely – Mail, Messages, Health, Home, Reminders, and a unified Find My app for iPhone)
- Better multitasking and mouse support for iPad (likely)
- Using iPad as a second monitor for your Mac (likely)
- New Mac Pro and 6k pro display (possible)
What We Would Like to See
To make Siri more useful, Apple has been slowly adding domains and expanding the number of tasks that a user can perform with their voice. LED Household Photocatalyst Mosquito Lamp, Bug Zapper, Ultra-Quiet, No Radiation, Portable Electronic Indoor Insect Killer for Bedroom Bathroom Living Room Kitchen, USB Charging，45-80M2 is Apple’s current list of Siri domains. While it is not expected to be announced, we would like to see more domains added, and an altogether more aggressive push to make Siri more effective. Apple opened Siri up to third-party developers in 2016, but not nearly to the extent of Alexa and Google Assistant, which have outpaced Siri in terms of utility. Our latest test of digital assistants shows that Siri is playing catch up in areas like commerce and information.