Nine quick thoughts on WWDC 2021

At the last WWDC, Apple unveiled a lot of new features for their platforms, mostly iOS and MacOS. Among them, a few caught my eye.

Two quick side notes before I start: 1) it appears most of things I expected Apple to do last year are either on their way of becoming real things, or are already more or less available, so there’s that; and 2) what I found interesting in the WWDC 2021 announcements, is how cross-platforms most of the new features are. At first, I had written this post in two parts, one for iOS, one for MacOS, but it turns out most of the features are available on both platforms, and separating them didn’t make much sense. That’s new.

  1. New tab navigation on Safari for iOS

Now you can swipe between tabs like you can swipe between apps. Very happy about this since I’ve been doing this gesture anyway for years now. Now I guess it will actually do something.

  1. Password authenticator inside Apple Keychain

I wondered recently if Apple would one day improve Keychain in a significant way, especially with 2FA capabilities, and I got my answer at WWDC. I guess Authy’s services won’t be needed anymore.

  1. iCloud+ offering custom domain names for email

I guess Hover’s email services won’t be needed anymore.

  1. Quick note feature in Apple Notes:

Similar to the Quick Capture feature of Drafts, that I use quite often on the Mac. I like that you can highlight text on a webpage, and when seeing the same page later, the Quick note remembers which part you highlighted. This exact feature was the main reason I briefly used Pocket again this year, so I’m glad it will be a native feature soon.

  1. AirPlay to Mac

I wonder if watching Disney+ through AirPlay will improve the experience over the memory-heavy, heat-generating website that I have to use on my Intel MacBook Air.

  1. Erase All Contents and Settings

By making it much easier on the Mac, Apple is basically encouraging me to reset my Mac to its factory settings on a regular basis. Yes, I like doing that. Makes my computer feels faster somehow.

  1. On device speech dictation

As I am with my personal blog, I’m all in for computing speed (see comment #6), so whatever new feature makes the experience faster, I’m all in.

  1. New Memoji glasses options, including heart, star, and retro shapes

Just kidding. I would love a “scan your face” feature to generate accurate Memojis automatically though. Pretty sure this is coming soon.

  1. Mail privacy protection & Mail App Extensions

i.e. the ability to block email tracking. I’ve seen a lot of good articles on this topic and what it especially means for publishers from Joshua Benton at Nieman Lab, or Casey Newton at Platformer, so I’m not gonna repeat their analysis here. But there is one thing I want to add.

For many years, marketers tracked readers without their explicit consent. Today, readers and subscribers are given a choice, and they are — unsurprisingly — choosing to massively reject tracking, a bit like what happened with IDFA. Now marketers are complaining that it ruins their work and endangers their business.

To me this is like burglars building a business of taking pictures of the inside your house when you’re not around, and telling you that there are doing it to help you find better, more personalised furniture. One day, a company starts selling a new lock that says “full burglary protection” and burglars are publicly complaining this new lock is threatening their business.

If your business is in the wrong in the first place, I am sorry, but maybe your business doesn’t need saving. Sure, it will be harder to ask people to enter their house and take pictures of their stuff, but this is their house after all, their rules, and you don’t get to decide what’s good or wrong based on habits you imposed almost secretly (that’s why tracking “pixels” were used, and not tracking “big-ass banners”). Just because things have been a certain way for a long time doesn’t mean that this is the right way.

Working in marketing and hating anything analytics-related, I am glad of this change, and I am glad the industry has to use better ways to track what is working or not marketing-wise. The opening-rate metric for instance has been a force for terrible clickbait nonsense for too long. That’s why ads always have been better in magazine and on TV. Maybe not more “efficient,” but so much better. Like Big Technology’s Alex Kantrowitz says:

The advertising industry has addicted itself to tracking, prioritizing bottom of the funnel metrics at the expense of great content and creative. It’s tragic. […] And it’s why people hate advertising and ad companies.

Couldn’t have said it better.