Max Krebs

WWDC 2017

TLDR: The tech was mostly great. Everything else, not so much.

I went into this WWDC 2017 keynote not sure where I stood on Apple and their products. I had already decided that my next computer will be a desktop gaming PC and I was fairly sure that my next laptop would be a cheap PC running Linux. I had even considered going Android for my next phone. Before this, I was almost certain.

Now, not so much.

The Presentation

I got this idea from Aleen Sims, but I kept a count of the diversity statistics on stage at the WWDC keynote. Of the people on stage with speaking roles, there were 10 white men, 2 white women, 1 woman of color (who was also pregnant). The last couple of Apple Keynotes seemed to be moving in generally the right direction with their diversity statistics. The Apple Music presentation featuring Bozoma Saint John was a particular highlight. But this year was a step back. In 2017, being the biggest company in the world and having double digit white guys on stage is unacceptable.

The few women who were on stage all did fantastic. One women from Epic Games was demoing VR Development on a Mac using the HTC Vive, and she performed a 1) live demo while 2) wearing a VR headset with 3) no script or teleprompter that required 4) to physically move around a set. That was seriously impressive. One of the presenters was also very pregnant. I don’t ever want to have children for a reason, I can’t imagine that was easy, but it was a great image that pregnant women are just as capable as anyone else. I just hope Apple treats its pregnant employees with respect behind the scenes.

Sigh. Okay, it seems that every Apple keynote these days has one part or another that is controversial. Last yeah it was Phil Schiller describing Apple removing the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 as “Courageous”. For me, that moment this year was a transphobic joke made by the (generally genuinely funny) Craig Federighi. While talking about iOS 11’s new Drag and Drop feature, Craig said, “Its a drag fest.” Cue laughter. I can’t tell if this was scripted or just something he ad libbed, but I don’t know which would be worse. I don’t think I need to explain why this hurt me as much as it did. I saw a couple other trans people on twitter describe it as having all your enthusiasm run headfirst into a brick wall. Can confirm, that was pretty much the feeling. Infuriatingly, this blatantly offensive “joke” will get none of the Apple press outrage that the courage line did. I wonder why.

This leads me to my final thought on the actual presentation. I am so tired of white, straight, middle aged dude sensibilities in tech. Dad jokes. Stupid video skits. etc. Its all so boring and dull and I am sick of it. Its also how a transphobic joke can go basically unnoticed in the community. Its so exhausting.

Mac Software

  • Mail / Photos: Not much here. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Safari: The privacy features for stopping autoplay video and fighting cross site tracking are fantastic. I use Chrome and some plugins to do the same thing, but making it the default for Safari will bring at least some level of protection to a much larger audience. Always a win. Also, I’ve heard that Safari when its updated will support WebAssembly, very nice.
  • Metal 2: I am a little disappointed that Apple is showing that they wont support Vulcan or other graphics standards that literally everyone else is using, but if they can get engine makers and developers on board (neither easy nor guaranteed) then it will come out in the wash anyway. I was also genuinely surprised there was so much emphasis on VR. I am skeptical of both VR in general and VR on the Mac, but time will tell.
  • APFS: ding.

Mac Hardware

  • iMac Pro: Wow. I know most of the impressiveness of this product is the large numbers that don’t really mean too much, but those large numbers are pretty damn impressive. And I am a sucker for Space Grey anything. I only wish I had a job that justified needing to use it.
  • MacBook updates: 👍
  • External GPUs: 👍
  • AMD GPUs: 👎
  • I want all the computers.

iOS

  • AR Kit: Cool. I’ve got some ideas on things I could do with this.
  • Too Much Machine Learning: Seriously, cool it with the buzzwords.
  • Nice for people who use iPads (not me)
  • I am not a fan of the new design language.

Miscellaneous

  • Pride Watch Band! I know corporate expressions of queer pride are problematic, but I really want a pride flag watch band.
  • Homepod: bad name. Not working with Spotify is a deal breaker
  • I wonder how much of this will work reliably
  • That is now how you pronounce Reykjavik, Craig
  • I had no interest in anything in the watchOS section. I don’t need useless watch faces and notifications to guilt me into working out more.