WWDC 2020 Initial Thoughts

The WWDC 2020 “pandemic edition” is now behind us, and it was one of the better ones I’ve seen in quite some time. Apple announced a lot in the 2 hour presentation, with iOS and MacOS getting the bulk of the attention this year. What follows is a quick rundown of my thoughts after watching the keynote last night. If you want to dive deep, you should follow MacStories this week. They have a ton of content already.


  • The presentation style was great – it was tight, dense and well paced. Some of the zooming around campus stuff was kinda cheesy, but I approve of most of the dad humor they use these days. Hopefully this is the future of the keynote, although I doubt it.
  • The Music app seems to be getting way better search, filtering within lists and a redesigned start view that will replace “For You”.


iOS got a TON of attention this year. I was very impressed with this part of the presentation.

  • The App Library looks fantastic. I’ll be hiding everything but my first screen when iOS 14 is out.
  • The “Smart Stack” suggested widgets on your home screen could be neat … but so could the Siri watch face on the Apple Watch.
  • I hope App Clips catch on. Can’t wait to delete a lot of the parking & other one-off apps from my phone. The restaurant specific pages within an app like Yelp is interesting.
  • Based on the screenshots I saw during the presentation, it appears that the Apple notes texture background is gone!
  • The Siri redesign looks fantastic. I’m interested to see if the Siri enhancements are only skin deep, however. The on-device changes to dictation will hopefully speed things up so my voice command to turn off the lights don’t need to go to space and back.
  • Maps got cycling directions! I hope a basic version works everywhere at launch as I don’t live in a big city. I’m more interested in time/elevation data for when planning a bike ride.
  • Tons of Messages group chat enhancements, pinning convos, threading and mentions. And all on the Mac.
  • Emoji search!
  • 3rd party email and browser support should spur more innovation in those areas.
  • The minimal incoming call UI is much-welcomed.
  • In iOS 14, when apps ask for access to your Photos app, you can give them access only to select photos rather than the entire Photo Library.
  • Dictation is now on-device. I hope this is also for Siri commands in general.


iPadOS got some updates, but nothing like last year. That said, if we can even seen incremental additions yearly that are very iPad-focused, I’m okay with that.

  • Apple Pencil features – shape detection and copy/paste from written text will increase my pencil use by a lot.
  • FaceTime eye correction
  • Doesn’t appear that iPadOS will allow the app library or widgets along with the grid. Why?
  • Adding sidebars and context menus alone will help those in the “desktop replacement” crowd.
  • The search changes look fantastic.


The highlights of this part of the presentation was the iPadification of the UI/UX, and the announcement of the ARM … err “Apple Silicon” … transition.

  • The new macOS UI looks really nice. Appreciate Apple brining things together but allowing each platform to do its own thing.
  • Catalyst updates are appreciated, but it still has so far to go. I feel like some developers might just skip the whole thing and put their iPad apps in the Mac App Store once the ARM transition is in flight.
  • Some of the Big Sur Dock icons are … horrific.


  • Finally, you can add multiple complications from the same app.
  • The watch/iPhone wind down functionality integrated with sleep tracking and battery notifications seem to be exactly what I’m looking for. I think the market for sleep apps will probably need to evolve depending on how advanced the native functionality is, but apps that give more data ABOUT your sleep will probably surge. I love Autosleep, but if the built in stuff is better I’ll go with it.


  • tvOS got a lot of polish, especially around the Home integration. I’ve definitely tried to invest in HomeKit stuff around the house and am tempted to get a few cameras now that they’re more integrated with HomeKit.
  • The AirPods features look amazing. I’ll be curious to see how clever it tries to be, however. The accelerometer work to keep the surround sound in sync are mind-blowing. I have gen 1 AirPods Pro but I’m looking forward to getting some pros next year.
  • HomePod 3rd party music support! I hope they allow folks to set a 3rd party as default.
  • For time based shortcut automations a new toggle has been added. Now these kind of automations can be executed automatically without tapping on a notification first.
  • Did anyone else notice the small HomePod icon on one of the slides?
  • iOS 14 adds a new Accessibility feature that allows you to perform different actions by tapping on the back of your iPhone. For instance, you can make it such that when you double tap the back of your iPhone, you are taken to the home screen, or open the camera or even run a shortcut!
  • I heard the word “private” about a million times. I love that privacy has really become ingrained in every decision the company makes. Using ‘approximate location’ for weather apps that only need your zip code should help kneecap a lot of the tracking apps out there.
  • Speaking of privacy, it looks like tracker blocking support for app analytics and things like Google analytics is coming to iOS and MacOS.

How’d my wishlist fare?

About a month ago, I posted a wishlist for WWDC. How’d Apple nerd Christmas work out for me?

On first read, I think I got 5 iOS of the updates, 1 of the iPadOS updates, and 2 of the miscellaneous ones. Some will reveal themselves over time, but I’m still pretty happy with the first glance from yesterday’s keynote.

Ok, now what?

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