WWDC 15 kicks off with the rather dubious tagline: “The Epicenter of Change.” The logo looks like a bunch of Apple Watch bodies and some circles splooshed together to make a colorful flower, and it’s all very friendly. Apple fans are super mondo excited about the conference, as we’ll all be getting details on iOS 9 and OS X 10.11. (That is, unless Apple decides not to do what they do every year during WWDC, and instead decides to go less generational this year.)
I’m, of course, intrigued about what will be announced today, but it’s not because I love Apple products. I obviously have spent a lot of time talking about Windows 10 on this blog, and with good reason, in my opinion–it’s genuinely exciting! I like how it’s coming along, though I have no idea how Microsoft is actually going to ship something that doesn’t look like a cludgy mess by July 29. Admittedly, it’s by and large much better to use than Windows 8.x (which is exhausting to use because you have to pay so much attention to what you’re doing and remembering where to swipe, and which settings to use in which context…). But we’ll see!
Rather, I’m intrigued by what will be announced today because I hate my iPhone, and desperately want things to improve. I hate my iPhone not because it’s nearing three years of age. I hate it because it’s boring, frustrating, inconsistent, mediocre, and uninspiring. I hate the way Messages works, where it’s difficult to tell when you’re sending a message to an individual or a group (yes, the 6+ has convenient icons which ameliorate that, but I see no reason why that can’t be applied to less-than-huge form factors). I hate how Messages sometimes associates my messages with my phone number, and sometimes with my email address. For no apparent reason. I hate how sometimes that back button is on the bottom of the screen, and how it’s sometimes at the top of the screen, and how the close-window button isn’t in the same place across apps. I hate how this supposedly premium hardware had a power button stop working within less than a year of owning it, and while, yes, it’s subject to recall, it requires going to an Apple Store and giving up my phone for a while. I hate how taking screenshots is wedded to that stupid power button. I hate how the home screen is just a bunch of boring icons in a grid and that I can’t move them about the screen freely. I hate how the icons don’t tell me anything about why there’s a little red circle with a number in it. I hate how the notifications don’t really do anything useful, and how they persist even after the email that triggered the notification has long since been dealt with. I hate how Siri’s voice dictation is a garbled mess if I’m connected to a BlueTooth device, and I hate how there’s a 3-second delay streaming audio from my phone to my car’s stereo (that may be a car problem, though, as my BlueTooth speakers don’t seem to have the same delay). I hate having to use iTunes to backup my phone, and iTunes is an abysmal experience. I hate how difficult it is to put something as simple as a PDF on the device to show it to someone later. I could keep going, but this post is terrible enough as it is. But that’s just a sampling of how little I like using the iPhone.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, it’s the least worst choice among smartphone platforms. I had an Evo 4G about 5 years ago, back when Android was on Gingerbread. It. Was. Terrible. I detested that thing, and regretted getting it. I recognize that Android has vastly improved since then, now that it’s on Lollipop and soon to be on Macadamia Nut Cookie. Unfortunately for Android users, though, good luck getting an update to your operating system through your carrier!!! According to Android’s own developer portal, only 11.6% of Android users are currently using an OS that was released a year ago; almost half as many are still on Gingerbread, which was four generations ago.
Nearly 80% of devices are not running the most current software. And then there’s the whole Google thing that you have to deal with when using an Android device, and despite having its tentacles wrapped around everything that passes through my various Google accounts, Google services still thinks I’m currently in Dallas for some reason, even though I haven’t passed through there since I went to Oklahoma City 18 months ago. Despite having hardware makers which are pushing out some legitimately interesting devices with aggressive specs, at the end of the day, Android is a battery-guzzling hog (much like the Chrome browser). At Google I/O this year, noises were made that a lot of hard work was going to happen which would fix that in Android M(acadamia Nut Cookie). We’ll see.
I’d love to use a Windows Phone. Absolutely, I would. I love the live tile functionality. I like that they can be resized. I like the cameras in last year’s flagship Lumias. I like the way things flow. I get the operating system, and now that Microsoft realizes that it entirely missed the boat by ignoring business customers in Windows Phone 7.x and had to catch up to reintegrate something as vital as Exchange, the phones can be legitimately be used for my job. I’m excited what Windows 10 can mean with Continuum and having a phone that can produce a desktop environment when docked to a keyboard and mouse. I like Cortana and how useful it can be. Using Cortana on Windows 10 has been really interesting, and surprisingly useful.
But, man, there is no way I can get a Windows Phone. The App situation is a joke, and developers have been abandoning ship for months. Shoot, when even banks start pulling their apps from your store, you don’t have platform adoption at a rate that signals long-term success. Maybe that’ll change with Windows 10, but let’s be honest: probably not. I also don’t think I could convince my wife to switch over to a Lumia or something similar because she’s too familiar with the iPhone ecosystem. Also, see: lack of Apps. I mean, Skype could stand in for FaceTime and Messages, but… there’s a lot of other things she does with her phone than call and chat with me. Additionally, if there was a flagship Lumia worth buying right now that would be intriguing, but there isn’t. They’re all running last year’s technology, and the new phones coming out are all mid-range with subpar cameras; excellent picture quality is an essential part of my buying decision when it comes to a phone.
And so I’m stuck using an iPhone, and I’m not happy about it. Maybe today’s keynote will introduce something truly interesting, but it sounds like not much truly groundbreaking is expected. iTunes may get revamped and/or replaced by “Music.” Apple may announce a Snow Leopard-esque cooling off to retool and polish iOS and OS X. But, unless they announce that the grid-of-snapped-icons look is going away and being replaced by an interactive interface, it’s really just more of the same. Epicenter of Change? Eh, we’ll see.