In early June I was lucky enough to be selected to make the pilgrimage to the 2017 edition of the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference, WWDC. This annual conference is the premier event for developers within Apple’s ecosystem, attracting almost 6000 attendees over 5 days at the McEnery Convention Center in San José, California.
The highlights of the Keynote have been covered off in our post from Alt Conf, so I’ll focus more on what it was like to attend WWDC, and my key takeaways from a week in Apple Developer nirvana.
After years of watching the WWDC Keynote addresses at 5am on a Tuesday in New Zealand, Nic and I crossed the Atlantic to the sunny climes of California the weekend beforehand. This year is the 10 year anniversary of the iPhone, and anticipation was high for what would be revealed at the Keynote address.
We dropped by the convention centre the day before to check in and get our passes, and to get a taste of the excitement of the week ahead. As expected, Apple cut no corners fitting out the McEnery Convention Center, going as far as installing their own signage and even covering the floors of the halls with their own thick black carpet.
We’d heard stories of people queuing from 2am to get a good seat for the Keynote, and while we arrived at more congenial time of 9am there was still a pretty massive line out front. It was astounding the scale that this event was operating at, there were approximately 6000 people present for the keynote all seated in a single room ready for the big reveal.
The main event kicked off just after 10am with an opening tongue-in-cheek APPOCALYPSE video about the end of the world, caused by the App Store servers being unplugged. It was interesting to see a lighter side of Apple during the Keynote. For a company with a reputation for being reasonably serious and straight cut, there were a number of times (particularly during Craig Federighi’s presentations) where the humour poked through which made for a great Keynote.
After the excitement of the Keynote it was all about planning the remainder of the week’s schedule now the full lineup had been announced. We managed to get into the Hands-On session later that day, where we were able to spend time using the new hardware and software they had announced earlier in the day. The AR and VR experiences were mind-blowing, particularly when compared with some of the existing tech in this space. iOS 11 on the new iPads and using ARKit to place objects on a tabletop was so smooth it was hard to believe. After playing with the new iPad Pro I was left feeling like it was very close to being a general computing device I could realistically use instead of a laptop.
It’s an ongoing battle. Function vs Feel. Features vs Usability. ‘Quality’ vs ‘quality’. Focusing too much on one and neglecting the other will result in less users. Get it right and you’re a millionaire! Well, not quite – but you will have happy users. And if there’s anything I’ve learnt in my short period of time in this industry, making all your users happy is a near impossible task…
If while testing you come across something that feels unintuitive let your product owner/dev team know! As much as QA is something that has to be done, it really is incredibly important. You have the power to stop a ‘crApp’ from hitting the market! It could be the difference between having a marginally successful product and a hugely successful one that you will tell your grandchildren about.