Thoughts on Apple's WWDC 2019 Keynote

Yesterday was Apple’s Keynote for their 2019 Worldwide Developers Conference. As I watched, I kept a list of the different things they announced, which I have pasted below. I’ll discuss some of the different things that I am excited or disappointed about, and link a few things that have already started to pop-up from press and developers that are attending the conference. The (Apple, MacStories) text in each of the following headings are links.

tvOS (MacStories)

Usually, I am not too excited about what Apple announces for tvOS. We own an Apple TV HD (formerly known as the 4th generation Apple TV), an Apple TV 4K (although we don’t yet own a 4K TV), and a Steel Series Nimbus controller. With the release of SteamLink for tvOS, I have been trying to play Elder Scrolls Online on my Apple TV 4K by streaming it from our 5K Retina iMac. Unfortunately, the only compatible controller is the Steam Controller, and even that doesn’t work the greatest. When I play ESO on the iMac, I use an Xbox Wireless Controller connected via USB. I hope I’ll be able to connect it via Bluetooth to my Apple TV and not have to continue to mess with configurations, button mapping, and cables.

watchOS 6 (Apple, MacStories)

  • More watch faces

  • Taptic Chimes (Hourly)

  • Audiobooks, Voice Memos, Calculator

  • Independent Apps

  • Streaming Audio

  • New UI framework

  • App Store

  • Activity Trends

  • Hearing Notifications

  • Cycle Tracking

I don’t own an Apple Watch, so I am usually pretty disinterested in this part of the announcements. I am intrigued by the Hearing Notifications being able to tell you that you are in an environment that is potentially causing hearing damage.

iOS 13 (Apple, MacStories)

  • Performance Enhancements (30% faster FaceID, 2X faster app launch speed)

  • App Downloads (50% smaller, 60% smaller updates)

  • Dark Mode

  • Swipe Keyboard

  • New Share Sheet (Intelligent Suggestions)

  • Time-synced lyrics

  • Brand new Reminders app

  • Maps Updates

    • Favorites & Collections

    • Look Around (like Street View)

  • Privacy

    • Allow just once

    • Protects determine location using Wi-Fi & Bluetooth

  • Sign in with Apple

  • HomeKit

  • Messages

    • Share name & picture when messaging

    • More options for Memoji

  • Camera & Photos

    • Hi Key Mono

    • Increase Portrait Lightening Intensity

    • Photo Editing Interface Change + New Effects

    • Video Effects: Rotate, Filters, Effects

    • ML: Removes duplicates and clutter, organized intelligently

  • Siri

    • Reads messages in AirPods

    • Audio Sharing

    • Handoff to HomePod

    • Live Radio on HomePod

    • VoiceID for HomePod

    • Neural Text-to-Speech

  • CarPlay

    • New Dashboard

    • Redesigned Apps

    • Siri can work with 3rd Party Apps

There were a lot of exciting announcements for me about iOS 13. Moving down my list, the first one that jumped out at me was Sign in with Apple. There are numerous sites and apps that want allow options to Sign in with Facebook or Google, but as Apple discussed in the Keynote, these methods potentially share a great deal of information with those websites and apps. Sign in with Apple guards more of your privacy and will (hopefully) make logging in to those websites and apps more seamless and easy.

HomeKit enabled routers. We currently have three Eero Pro base stations covering our house in WiFi. I am definitely interested in a potential upgrade to those base stations that would make our HomeKit accessories (a few Philips Hue lights and a Schlage Sense deadbolt more secure from the outside world.

Siri and AirPods. Since I have started working out on a more regular basis, I have my AirPods in more frequently. Right now, I can hear notifications, but Siri cannot read new messages to me. Not having to get my phone out of my pocket to read messages will be great! While my wife does not (yet) have AirPods, being able to share audio from one device to multiple AirPods will be great!

iPadOS (Apple, MacStories)

  • Tighter grid of icons

  • Pin widgets on home screen

  • SlideOver has multi-tasking

  • SplitView: multi-window capability

  • App Exposé

  • Files: Column View with Preview, Quick Actions, Metadata

  • iCloud Drive Folder Sharing

  • SMB File Sharing

  • USB Drives

  • Import photos directly into apps

  • Zip & Unzip

  • Safari

  • Fonts

  • Text Editing: Drag Cursor, Drag Selection, Gesture Edits

  • Pencil

    • 9ms latency

    • New tool palette

    • PencilKit API

    • Markup in any app

There were quite a lot of exciting things for me about iPad OS. First, the idea that the iPad is now such a different device that it warrants its own operating system and specific features is huge. I love the new flows coming to multi-tasking and the power coming to the Files app. But the two things I am most excited for are Desktop-Class Safari and PencilKit API. As mentioned in the Verge article linked above, Safari on iPad OS is able to run web apps like Google Docs, Squarespace, or Blackboard that previously required dedicated apps or a laptop/desktop. Those three in particular I use quite frequently, and their dedicated iOS apps are significantly lacking compared to their web-based counterparts.

In posts from my Music Theory and Jazz & Popular Arranging courses, I have discussed several different PDF apps I have used to try and write on assignments in a way that makes sense to me. With PencilKit, developers will be able to implement the same markup tools that Apple does in their apps, making for a more unified experience across the ecosystem.

Mac Pro

  • Up to 28-core Intel Xeon

  • 1.4kW Power Supply

  • Up to 1.5TB of RAM

  • 8 PCIe (4 double-wide, 3 single-wide, I/O card

  • 4 TB3 ports

  • 2 10Gb Ethernet

  • Graphics (MPX Module)

    • x16 PCIe connector

    • PCIe, DisplayPort, and Power (500W)

    • Fanless Design

    • Radeon Pro 580X, Pro Vega II, Pro Vega II Duo

    • Infinity Fabric Link

    • Configurablewith 2 of these modules

  • Afterburner: can edit ProRes and ProRes RAW directly (3 streams of 8K or 12 streams of 4K simultaneously)

  • As quiet as an iMac Pro

  • Optional Wheels

  • Starts at $5999

Pro Display XDR

  • 32” LCD

  • 6016x3384

  • 6K Retina

  • P3 10-bit Color

  • Matte option

  • 1,000 nits base, 1600 nits peak

  • 1M:1 Contrast Ratio

  • Thunderbolt 3

  • Portrait Mode

  • $4999. $5999 Matte. $999 Stand.

I have been waiting for the Mac Pro and this display for years, fully aware that I might not ever be able to afford them as well as not ever really need them for my computing needs. Several years ago, I bought what I believe was the first generation Mac Pro—the evolution of the “cheese grater” Power Mac G5—because I wanted (but turns out I did not need) the power and expandability. Below is a comparison of the 2019 Mac Pro, Late 2013 “trash can” Mac Pro, and the base model Mid 2012 Mac Pro (the last of the old cheese grater design), courtesy of specifications from Engadget and Mactracker.

  2019 Mac Pro Late 2013 Mac Pro Mid 2012 Mac Pro
Price Starts at $5,999 Starts at $2,999 Started at $2,499
Dimensions 20.8" H x 8.58" W x 17.7" D 9.9" H x 6.6" D 20.1" H x 8.1" W x 18.7" D
Weight 39.7 lbs 11 lbs 39.9 lbs
OS macOS 10.15 Catalina macOS 10.9 Mavericks macOS 10.7 Lion
Processor Intel Xeon W
8-Core 3.5GHz
Intel Xeon E5 "Ivy Bridge"
6-Core 3.5GHz
Intel Xeon W "Bloomfield"
4-Core 3.2GHz
Memory 32GB DDR4 ECC 2666MHz
Up to 1.5TB 2933MHz
16GB DDR3 ECC 1866MHz
Up to 128GB
Up to 128GB DDR3 ECC 1333MHz
Graphics AMD Radeon Pro 580X / Radeon Pro Vega II AMD FirePro D500 / D700 ATI Radeon HD 5770 / 5870
Storage 256GB SSD
Up to 4TB SSD
256GB SSD
Up to 1TB SSD
1–TB 7200RPM SATA
512GB SSD
Ports USB 3.0 (x2)
Thunderbolt 3 (x4)
Gigabit Ethernet (x2)
3.5mm headphone jack
HDMI (on card)
USB 3.0 (x4)
Thunderbolt 2 (x6)
Gigabit Ethernet (x2)
3.5mm headphone jack
HDMI
USB 2.0 (x5)
Firewire 800 (x4)
10/100/1000 Ethernet (x2)
Optical Audio
Mini-DisplayPort (x2), Dual-link DVI
Wireless 802.11ac
Bluetooth 5.0
802.11ac
Bluetooth 4.0
802.11n
Bluetooth 3.0

You can see from the comparisons, that I was getting a pretty decent bang for my buck at the time (2006–2008). I just wish the 2019 Mac Pro and the Pro Display XDR were a bit more affordable. I was hoping for something more along the lines of their Thunderbolt Display, but more like our 5K iMac or the iMac Pro. However, I completely understand; this device is not at all for me! I think Michael Pusateri does a good job describing just who the Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR are for in his Twitter thread.

In a previous post on Apple, I talked about what my wife and I currently have and what our potential needs are in terms of computing. After the announcement of the 2019 Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR, I think I would revise my wishlist as follows:

  • Replace my Mid 2012 15” MacBook Pro with either a MacBook Air or 13” MacBook Pro. Chloe has expressed similar sentiments about her Late 2013 13” MacBook Pro. Both of us are still leery of the keyboards and want to wait that out. Both computers run fine after their logic board replacements in 2018, just with some graphics and fan issues.

  • Add a 2018 Mac mini, eGPU, and some sort of display. I have become convinced that, for our needs, the Mac mini has more than enough power and expandability. This may happen sooner than a replacement of either of our laptops…

macOS Catalina

  • iTunes

    • 3 Apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, Apple TV

    • Sync now happens in Finder

    • Apple TV

      • Support for 4K HDR playback on Mac

  • Sidecar

    • iPad as second display for Mac

    • Wired or Wireless

    • Apple Pencil works on iPad

  • Accessibility

    • Voice Control on macOS and iOS too!

  • Find My

    • Find My iPhone and Find My Friends available on both Mac and iOS

    • Locate offline Apple devices!

    • Activation Lock

  • Apps

    • Similar redesigns from iOS

    • ScreenTime

The big(ger) news for macOS is below, but there were some nice things mentioned about Catalina that I wanted to touch on. I rarely use iTunes on my Mac anymore, so splitting it into separate apps won’t likely affect me too much. Sidecar sounds incredible! We have a Luna Display connected to our 5K iMac that allows us to control it from our iPads. I am very excited to be able to use Sidecar to do similar annotations as I described above with PencilKit, but on our Macs. Voice Control looks pretty neat. My grandmother has macular degeneration and struggles with her eyesight, but still wants to keep up on email, news, etc. We have yet to find a good solution for her, but it does not look like Voice Control will solve that issue. I am also pleased by the other announcements for Catalina, but I was hoping for a similar feature to iOS 12’s AutoFill, making it easier to fill passwords on my Mac. 1Password just isn’t as fluid in macOS as it is in iOS.

Project Catalyst (Apple, MacStories)

  • Marzipan - create Mac apps from iPad apps

  • Check the Mac text box. Automatically builds in basic features

SwiftUI (Apple)

  • Native framework for building iOS, watchOS, and macOS apps!

I think Project Catalyst and SwiftUI are the two biggest announcements from the Keynote, but Apple spent the least amount of time on them. The implications of being able to bring iOS apps to the Mac and having a modern, declarative framework for designing user interfaces across all of their devices is HUGE. I’m trying to find an article with an explanation of SwiftUI for non-programmers (myself included), and I will update when I find it.

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Burton Hable

Burton Hable is an instrumental music educator from Central Iowa. In 2013 he helped open Centennial High School in Ankeny, the first time in forty years that a school district in Iowa expanded to two high schools. He served there through 2018 as Assistant Director of Bands: conducting the 10th Grade Symphonic Band, directing the varsity Jazz Collective, co-directing the Centennial Marching and Pep Bands, teaching music theory, and providing individual and small group lessons to brass students in grades 6-12 at Prairie Ridge Middle School, Northview Middle School, and Centennial High School. During his tenure in Ankeny, enrollment in band grew from 450 to nearly 700, the jazz program expanded from four to seven ensembles, and ensembles under his direction were invited to perform at Iowa State University, Harper College, and the Veterans Day Parade in New York City.