The News: Yesterday (June 22, 2020) Apple kicked off its all-online Worldwide Developers Conference in Cupertino, California, with thousands of developers joining from around the world. This week, we’re showcasing the biggest moments from WWDC20, including highlights from developer sessions, the most talked-about demos, the newest design features and capabilities across Apple platforms, and conversations with Apple executives. Check back here daily for what to Watch, Listen, Learn, and Play. See the full announcements from Apple.
Analyst Take: You can be sure there is no shortage of coverage for Apple at this year’s WWDC. The event was a bit odd, as we are used to a large audience of roaring Apple fans, but this year the auditorium sat empty and the content required some social distancing. Apple, of course, had top notch production and a plethora of products to show.
For me, I was really interested in two of the impending announcements. First, the launch of its next generation operating system, iOS14 and second the official announcement of the end of the Intel era for Apple as the company teams up with ARM to develop its own chip. Let’s unpack these two topics a bit more.
iOS14 Offers Improvements and Gives Kudos to Android
I bounce between Android and iOS. I like the Apple platform, and my children demand me to use iMessage. I also have enjoyed testing 5G devices from Samsung and others and Apple has yet to deliver a 5G device.
The event kicked off with a big focus on the home screen and changes in iOS. I like the customization and the use of AI/ML to help us better understand how we use the device and make those apps more accessible. Ironically, it reminded me a lot of my old EVO Android device where you could custom program your home page and add move widgets to customize your experience. I think this will take some getting used to, but I’m sure people will come around and say iOS14 is “Outstanding.” For me, only time will tell.
A few other features that caught my eye were the instant translation being done in Siri. I haven’t yet caught if that is AI being done on device or in the cloud. I hope it is the former, but that is something I’ll have to come back on. The other feature I thought was cool was the automotive key feature within CarPlay that enabled us to access/share vehicles within the OS for safe/secure vehicle use. BMW is the first partner here, but I envision more to follow.
Arm Based Macs Are Here
We knew this was coming, so no surprise here. The question of how good it will be is a whole different subject. Apple, with its next gen Mac OS Big Sur, made it sound like the migration to Apple chips would be the snap of a finger and people would be smiling, nodding and loving Mac life. I’m not saying this isn’t possible, but I’m skeptical.
The idea that all the apps can just be flipped in a few days is ambitious. Will this just be done with emulation? The company touted its Rosetta2 as a way to automatically and transparently move apps over. The company promised improved battery life by drawing less power. These are all must haves as Windows devices have closed the gap in the past five years and on average are much less expensive than Mac–This is different than pre 2014 when Mac was decidedly better than Windows machines. Now, bugs are common in Macs and we will need to see if this is rectified with the new ARM based Devices.
It certainly isn’t as hard to move chips on a laptop as it is in perhaps the datacenter, but I think the market will decide if this move is worthwhile–Can Mac gain marketshare? I would tend to see this as a hard climb with such high prices and so many options from the likes of HP, Microsoft, Dell, Lenovo and others that are lightyears better than even just a few years ago.
Overall Impressions of Apple’s WWDC20 Announcements
Apple knows how to do an event. And despite the empty room, it had a lot of announcements and some significant announcements this year.
For me, a lot of it felt incremental, but that has been Apple for the past few years. As we wait for some earth shattering XR platform or some completely unexpected launch from the company that shocked us all with the iPhone nearly two decades ago now–we are settling for ongoing improvement and that isn’t to say it is bad.
In terms of iOS14, I found some nice modern conveniences with the Widgets, enhancements of ML/AI usage and the potential of having a usable digital assistant in Siri. As for the ARM based Macs, we knew this day was coming and now it is here. The company made it sound like the transition will be easy, but I’ll leave that for developers and the market to decide. But, I guess it is good that Mac is finally getting some attention.
Futurum Research provides industry research and analysis. These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice.