At WWDC, Apple introduced its newest iOS 6. (Credit: James Martin/CNET)
Are you tired of WWDC coverage yet? New MacBooks, a new version of iOS, new maps, and more: there is a lot to talk about. But let's look at what Apple did not announce. These were all rumored before the conference, but for one reason or another did not make the cut. If you're an Apple fan or developer, then you'll have to keep waiting. Maybe next year.
1. Siri API
Siri is Apple's voice activated personal assistant. Want to know the weather? Stock quotes? Football scores? Siri can do that for you. One thing I like about Siri is that it doesn't take itself too "seriously". Insult it, complement it, or ask it for off the wall advice, and Siri has a quick comeback. It doesn't always work, but when it does, it's fun and useful.
The big thing that Siri lacks, however, is any kind of extensibility. Right now, Apple is the only one who can add, for example, Yelp, Sports, and app launching integration. In fact Apple did add those at WWDC. Imagine what Siri could do if Apple would open up the interface officially and let developers plug in new functionality themselves. Some enterprising developers have already hacked Siri to control your TV, start your car, and more. Apple should support and encourage that kind of innovation.
2. Apple TV SDK
If you've never used Apple TV, you owe it to yourself to try it at a store or friend's house. The user interface is as good as or better than anything you'll find on a cable set to box, Roku, Media Center, Google TV, or even Tivo. The star of the show is the content: iTunes, Netflix, Vimeo, and more with no restrictions. The price is right, too. So what is it missing? Apps.
Apps are what made the iPhone and iPad platform so popular. Developers would like to do the same thing for the Apple TV box, but so far Apple is keeping out all but a few.
3. Apple Maps API (updated)
You've probably heard Apple is throwing Google Maps off the island, replacing them with an in-house maps solution. It looks nice in the demo, but there's one important part missing: an API.
Web developers and mobile developers use the extensive API provided by Google Maps to take the platform in new directions. Mashups that overlay taxi service, store location, even sexual predator warnings show the power of an open API. Apple needs to let Maps be embedded in third party apps and extended by a programming interface in order to reach its full potential. To really stick it to Google, they should make Apple maps available on the web too, including an AJAX web API.
Updated: Apple's API on top of Google Maps, called Map Kit, was introduced in 2010. According to sources at WWDC, in iOS6 apps that are coded to use Map Kit will automatically start showing embedded Apple Maps instead of Google Maps. So Map Kit will become the API for Apple Maps. No web version is planned.
4. Apple Search engine
Except possibly in China, Apple is sticking with Google search for now. In practical terms, they only have 3 options for search: build their own, switch to Bing, or stay with Google. Building a good search engine is a massive undertaking, and there haven't been any acquisitions of search engine technology telegraphing such an effort. Apple's decision to stick with Google indicates they are more wary of Microsoft right now than Google.
5. Widgets and live wallpapers
Widgets are non-full-screen apps that are displayed in your home screen along side your application icons and other decorations. A live wallpaper is a full screen app that is displayed in the background of your home screen. Despite being a very popular feature of competing operating systems for several years, neither will be appearing in iOS6.
One of the best selling programs in the Apple App store is Pimp Your Screen from Apalon. It provides static wallpaper that looks like shelves, so it looks like your icons are sitting on a bookshelf. Dynamic wallpaper and widgets would open up a new and lucrative niche for iOS developers. But instead, Apple chooses to retain control of the home screen and notification area to enforce a simple and easy to understand interface. There are arguments on both sides of the issue (battery life, stability, UI consistency, etc.) but why not give the users the choice?
What else were you looking for that Apple left out? Let us know in the talkback section below.
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