Obligatory WWDC 2013 Keynote post


Fictitious Sea Lion Release, oops typo in filename

You can read about the full details of the WWDC keynote early Tuesday morning (Australian time) on my friend Vadim's blog, but for now let's take a small quote from his blogpost:

Main things are the new improved Mac Book Airs, a revolutionary new Mac Pro and of course the new OSX 10.9 Maverick. But the main point of attraction this year was iOS7.

I don't know what these improvements to the Macbook Airs might be, and considering I probably would never get one (I do like them though, but having a Macbook Pro is enough already) I don't really care too much about these updates, but the Mac Pro and iOS7 are my main points of focus today.

Ruben posted about his Mac Pro yesterday and various times in the past and I've had the good fortune to have been able to see him tinker about inside it - mostly cleaning or swapping out drives, but I digress. The design on it is lovely as he says and quite a pleasure to open her up (oh my) unlike the PCs people like me have at home. I haven't built computers like he has though my dad's taken me through as he built a machine (I wasn't very interested at the time), but still you couldn't pay me to open them up - more trouble than it's worth.

New Mac Pro

So it's somewhat a disappointment to see that it was redesigned, as much as it's intriguing to see the new design, which I have to admit did remind me of a trashcan, or a rubbish bin, depending on where you hail from. I'd like to see the coffee machine it apparently looks like. I don't have the same use case as Ruben so the form factor doesn't make much difference to me plus I'm a failure as an IT student anyway, but this could be the push for me in the choice between a Mac Mini and a Mac Pro since it's small enough. Well, that and the cost... do I need that much power anyway? Probably not.

Clearly mixed opinions about the size though, comments (yes, I read the comments) from people saying that it's not expandable, but then yes it is because of the Thunderbolt ports but then no, because it's not fast enough, latency etc. Or it's aimed at professionals without time to do their own upgrades who want something that just works, to it's actually ignoring the userbase because the only people who want Mac Pros are people who want to expand... kind of some the things Ruben mentioned already in his post yesterday. applause Well anyway, I'll leave the commentary to the qualified parties.

Apple's new iOS7 compared with iOS6.. was it 6?

I'm no usability expert either and the only course I ever took which I only ever half paid attention in was one I crashed, but although iOS 7 looks great, I would have a few personal concerns that probably don't have anything to do with Neilson's Heuristics, just me being critical. Let's take a minute the savour the blasphemy of me commenting on the fact it looks like a mashup between iOS and Windows Phone.

Now that's done, my first comment on the design is recognisability. Of course it's probably necessary but by redesigning the entire interface, this will throw a lot of people off as it's not what they're used to. Sure, people are smart, but my point of view on such things often tends to be those who are less technologically inclined who will be more confused by these changes. I like to consider these things as someone on the bottom rung - clearly as someone no one ever really cares about. Dude, it's not that hard to learn. The icons retain elements of their former look, but a lot of them look very different. Thank heavens for that helpful text underneath telling me that's Photos. What's a bunch of coloured ellipses arranged in a circle meant to signify? Colour wheel? NBC? But similarly how would we have known that an image of a flower meant 'Photos' before? The Game Centre is also a bunch of coloured spheres bunched up in the centre of the icon - how does that tell me it's the Game Centre? At least the Game Centre was pretty clear before because it mapped closer to the real world.

Basically:

Nothing about the OS resembles previous versions of the operating system. Every visual element is rethought fro [sic] the Messaging app to the system keyboard to the way the OS behaves when you move the hardware.

With a more negative note.

I'm not saying I don't like the look, it looks very polished and interesting and I would love to try it out, but since I'm not a developer and all I can do is look at what is available: not only have they made radical changes, they have made some things more complex. It's nice that screens such as this one which I think is the control centre shows the background to avoid what Ruben refers to as the Doorway Effect so you can see what you were doing and therefore remember what you had intended to do next, however in many ways they have simply made the interface unnecessarily decorative.

Although it's a pretty effect, I fail to see how making the borders and controls in the media player opaquely overlay somehow makes it more useful, since it seems more distracting in my opinion and it still obscures the video. Not to mention, hiding all the other icons here instead of creating the usual split makes it harder to remember why I went into the Utilities folder to begin with, and in fact would encourage the Doorway Effect. Returning to the control centre, you could see the screen behind with something like the old notifications centre anyway, I would think covering it entirely is actually worse even if it's semi-transparent, though the example on the Apple website is better. Some controls are more clear and some less so. The half-moon in the notifications centre does not say... what was it, let me check the Settings image again... that does not say 'Do not Disturb' to me.

As quoted:

Nothing we’ve ever created has been designed just to look beautiful. That’s approaching the opportunity from the wrong end. Instead, as we reconsidered iOS, our purpose was to create an experience that was simpler, more useful, and more enjoyable — while building on the things people love about iOS.

Useful perhaps to someone already well versed in iOS... Clearly the target market here. I'm happy to see an audio player makeover though, that felt long overdue to me. For some reason I just never liked it.

When you pick something up for the first time and already know how to do the things you want to do, that’s simplicity.

Azunyan is unamused

As something that is built upon a certain amount of presumption that people have used an iPhone before in their life, I don't think that's really quite accurate. If I had not used an iPhone before in my life, I don't think it matters how simple it is, I couldn't pick it up and know how to turn on the torch because I don't know how to get to the Control Centre in the first place (nor would I know it was there, but I digress). I think this is where I can quote a certain T.Leong, that nothing is really 'natural' because we are still interacting with the OS in ways that have been ingrained into us.

In any case, it's not that I don't like this new redesign. I'm sure that it's highly useable since Apple has traditionally been good at both the design of things and functionality as I've been reliably told and there are plenty of new features that are pretty cool apart from Safari's new icon. The multitasking, the photo collections, there's a lot there I actually like but I still think there are certain points which perhaps are unnecessary that have been emphasised as necessary somehow in this new design. That there are certain things they have been a bit too minimalistic on in ways that don't make sense to me.

Of course, you can't design for everyone though, only your target market, which apparently seems to have become much less clear since Steve Jobs passed away. This is why I refrain from making bold statements such as quoted though, when it's probably going to be untrue for at least someone. You know what? I'm not really a fan of the way it shows multiple windows in Safari either, but that's just me and my opinion, just like the rest of this.

Image of fictional Sea Lion release from @Sebasu_tan.
Image of new Mac Pro from The Verge.
Image of iOS comparison from Jamiejakov.