WWDC 2014 - Part 2 - Thank You, Podcasters.

WWDC 2014 provided me with the opportunity to meet the folks who’ve been having a one-way conversation with me for oh-so-many hours each week. I hadn't met a real live iOS developer until my app had been in the App Store for several months - these were my developer buddies, even though they didn't know it. Upon reviewing all the photos from the week, I'm happy to report that I took full advantage of that opportunity and met all the best ones. So what the hell do I do with all these photos of me with these internet celebs? Sell them to US Weekly? Nah. Instead, I'd like to thank them for doing what they do.

 And now, without further ado, I present myself standing awkwardly next to all of these folks.

Marco Arment, Casey Liss, and John Siracusa // Accidental Tech Podcast

From left to right: Marco, Casey, Me, and Siracusa.

These three guys are absolutely killing it on the Accidental Tech Podcast. They've accidentally stumbled upon the perfect mix of personalities and technical backgrounds for a show like this. 

When I got started with iOS development about two years ago, I went from occasionally listening to Marco’s 5by5 podcast with Dan Benjamin, Build and Analyze, to carefully listening to the entire catalog of episodes and taking copious notes. I wasn’t listening for an explanation of block syntax, I was listening for how a successful developer approaches technical and business problems - and that's just what I got. There is so much great stuff in those episodes today, even though the technical content is aging. Thanks Marco.

Siracusa, of Hypercritical fame, has such a ridiculously deep understanding of almost everything tech related and a critical eye to match. His thought process really resonates with me, and he puts out the most magnificent(ly long) OS X reviews. When John speaks, we all listen. Thanks John.

Then there’s that other guy, whose name I forget. He rounds out the current format of ATP quite nicely, and serves as an excellent counterpoint to the extreme nerdery and opinions of Siracusa and Marco. He’s also the nicest guy of the bunch, so we should all try very hard to remember who the hell Casey Liss is. Thanks Casey.

Dan Benjamin & Haddie Cooke // 5by5 Podcast Network

Dan’s a big part of the why the best tech podcasts exist today. His podcast network (5by5), co-hosting style, and voice that could make a wolverine purr super-charged the platforms of guys like John Siracusa, Marco Arment, and John Gruber. We’ve all got a lot to thank Dan for. Thanks Dan

I ran into Dan and Haddie Cooke (host of The Frequency, a great banter-rich & soundboard-laden news-ish podcast with Dan) on the first day of WWDC. These two are really great and managed to get me a ticket to the sold-out 5by5 meetup that night. I happened to be wearing an Accidental Tech Podcast shirt, whose hosts are no longer on 5by5, and Haddie comically covered it up for this photo. 

I thought it looked like an engagement photo, so tweeted it out with the caption "Accidental engagement  photo" (GET IT?). After they retweeted it, Haddie's twitterverse exploded with congratulations on her new engagement. I never expected to come back from WWDC engaged, but sadly, it didn't last for very long.

Controversy-inciting photo taking credit goes to the venerable Moisés Chiullan

(Underscore) David Smith // Developing Perspective

David’s an independent iOS developer who records a wonderful 15 minute podcast every week that, as its name implies, is a developer's perspective on what's going on in the Apple world. He's got such great insight and opinions on both the latest news and more fundamental developer topics (like the state of the App Store). If you're a developer, and you're not listening to this guy's podcast, you're really missing out. I've heeded much of _'s advice, and he's really influenced the way I think about my app, the store, customers, etc. Further, his RSS service, Feed Wrangler is fantastic (I'm a subscriber), so go get it. Thanks _David.

John Gruber // The Talk Show & Daring Fireball

There doesn’t exist a clearer thinker than Gruber when it comes to Apple. His website doesn't deal with much rumor or speculation, just great relevant links with commentary and periodic long form pieces that are always a must-read. I particularly love his Claim Chowder, where he calls out various jackasses for their insane predictions once it's clear that they were, indeed, jackass predictions. Here's a good one about the iPad launch.  Thanks John.

While at WWDC, I was lucky enough to score a ticket to a live recording of the The Talk Show with the Accidental Tech Podcast guys as special guests. It was such a great show - a combination of my two favorite podcasts in the afterglow of the WWDC keynote. It was by far the highlight of the week. In the show art for the live The Talk Show recording below, @kimahlberg can be spotted on the balcony 4th from the right, and me a few stairs down and 5th over. This was a strategic move - we were right next to the open bar. 

Speaking of that open bar - we did a hell of a job.

After the show, Gruber was kind enough to hang around so we could all gather around and take photos. I believe the camera guy behind us is filming for the documentary App: The Human Story, which you should go fund

To wrap up, thanks again to everyone who took the time to meet me when I came running over wearing their nerdy Teespring-sourced t-shirt. I definitely appreciated it, and continue to appreciate the work you're doing. Keep it up.

But wait, there's more...

[1] Part 1 - The Conference

[2] Part 2 - Thank You, Podcasters. (you're here)

[3] Part 3 - What's Next for Mutility (not written yet)

For Sale: Windows 7 Desktop & 22" Monitor

Update: Sold and delivered.

It happened. I've obviated my need for a Windows machine. This beauty can be all yours for only $300. Specs:

  • Antec P182 mirror-finished stainless steel ATX case (it's heavy, but GORGEOUS)
  • Intel Core i7 860 @ 2.8 GHz, Quad Core w/ Hyperthreading
  • Intel X25-M 80GB SSD
    • 64-bit Windows 7 is installed and ready to go
  • 2 x 1TB HDDs for storage
  • 16GB DDR3 1600 MHz (4x8GB)
  • NVIDIA 8800GT graphics card (2x DVI out)
  • Blu-ray burner & CD/DVD burner (2 drives)
  • Built-in multifunction card reader (SD, CF, etc)
  • Trendnet 450gbps Wireless-N external WiFi adapter
  • Internal Wireless-N WiFi card
  • Beloved Windows Experience Index = 6.9

What do these specs mean? They mean it's a very snappy machine, and that I'm not asking much money for it. I'll also include a carrying harness (gives you a handle to carry it by) for it since it's such a heavy beast.

The monitor is a 22" Samsung LCD, and can be yours for the low, low price of $50.

I won't be shipping either of these things. Available for pickup in the Nashua, NH area.

App: The Human Story

A very worthy Kickstarter to fund a film about apps and the people that make them.  Federico Viticci of Macstories says it best

Most people think that apps simply “exist” on the App Store. They don't care about in-depth reviews and they assume that people who make apps work at Apple or Google. And yet so many people's lives have been positively impacted by apps, which were made by other people who had an idea and made it happen.

That's a story worth telling, and it seems like Story & Pixel are making a great film out of it. I highly recommend checking out their Kickstarter page.

I'm a backer.

WWDC 2014 - Part 1 - The Conference

Tim Cook during the Keynote - (K. Sliech, iPhone 5S)

This is the first of a three part series about the week, from my perspective as both an iOS developer and member of the Apple/tech community. In this post I'm going to cover my experience at the conference itself and what I think about the announcements. Part 2 is a an awkward love letter to the podcasters of the Apple enthusiast community who I had the pleasure to meet over the course of the week. Part 3 will discuss how the announcements made at WWDC will affect my iOS app, Mutility.

[1] Part 1 - The Conference (you're here)

[2] Part 2 - Thank You, Podcasters. 

[3] Part 3 - What's Next for Mutility (not written yet)

A note to the reader: People frequently refer to Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) as 'Dub Dub'. At first I absolutely hated it and thought it was ridiculous (Dub Dub in San Fran, bro), but I quickly found myself using the term ironically. Now normally. Oh well. 

It wasn’t that long ago that my Pebble buzzed and I was suddenly in a frenzy of excitement, counting down the days to Dub Dub. Next thing I knew I was on a plane to San Francisco to attend the most epic WWDC in recent memory. WWDC is Apple's yearly conference for developers held at Moscone West in downtown San Francisco. It's five days of developer sessions on various topics, interactive labs where developers can ask Apple engineers questions directly, and nightly parties. WWDC is a big deal for developers, and the keynote is the biggest Apple software event of the year. I got there a few days early to spend time exploring San Francisco, and it was awesome.

 Check-in time baby (K. Sliech, screenshot)

Check-in time baby (K. Sliech, screenshot)

Apple provided a Passbook pass to speed up registration, like a gentleman. The swag this year consisted of a baller black WWDC jacket with a big 14 on the back (allegedly, local gangs also use this number, which was a mild oversight) plus a very generous $25 iTunes gift card to commemorate the 25th WWDC. If you're anywhere near Moscone during WWDC, you'll find yourself lost in a see of bros comfortably ensconced in Dub Dub jackets. It was actually difficult to find specific people, since the demographic of iOS developers + matching jackets = hiding in plain sight comedy. 

 WWDC badge and extremely generous $25 iTunes gift certificate (K. Sliech, iPhone 5S)

WWDC badge and extremely generous $25 iTunes gift certificate (K. Sliech, iPhone 5S)

 

The Keynote

I lined up for the keynote at 4:45AM, finding a place in line probably 1000 people from the front. In fact, some crazies had lined up the night before (man, they must have gotten killer seats). Various companies send promotional staff to bestow gifts of water and snacks upon the line waiters, and occasionally photograph them (like AppFlood did below).

Apple carefully herded us around and into the building over the next several hours and eventually into seats for the 10AM keynote. Just as I was rounding the corner to enter Moscone, I was captured by a Verge photographer and made it into their live blog

And for being at least 1000 people back in the line, I got a hell of a seat. It was in the center and a few rows back from the first video projector, so I could look up and check out that to see small things on stage.

View from my seat at the keynote. (K. Sliech, Canon T2i)

The keynote was a firehose of awesome. Tim Cook got things started, but Craig Federighi really ran the show. He's a hell of a presenter (later I'd get to tell him that in person). If you haven't watched the kenote, SHAAAAAAAME on you. Do that now, I've embedded the video below. But go pee first, because it's 2 hours of awesomeness.

So you don't want to watch this amazing keynote in it's entirety? First, shame on you again, but second, check out the keynote in only 10 minutes, put together by The Verge below.

After the keynote is lunch / feverish download time. A massive area in Moscone opens up for devs to grab a sandwich and park themselves at tables completely covered with power outlets and gigabit ethernet jacks (every-other-ish one with a thunderbolt adapter!). Downloads from this internal network are blazingly fast, perfect for sucking down the iOS 8 and Yosemite betas.

Downloading alllll of the betas (K. Sliech, iPhone 5S)


OS X Yosemite

OS X banner in Moscone West (K. Sliech, iPhone 5S)

Apple didn't even bother to hide the OS X banners (above) in Moscone before the kenote, so the name of this release, Yosemite, 'leaked' a few days in advance. Yosemite brings a nice visual overhaul to OS X including a font update to beautiful Helvetica Neue (of iOS 7 fame). You can read about all the updates here and here, and there are A LOT of them, but I'm particularly excited about 3 specific things:

  • Continuity - Walk up to your Mac while working on something on iOS and an icon will appear, giving you the option to continue composing your email / document / etc from the Mac exactly where you left off. This works the other way too.
  • Visual Overhaul - They didn't go flat, they went iOS 7-ey with a desktop twist. Lots of transparency, whitespace, and depth. The system font was updated to Helvetica Neue, of iOS 7 fame. 
  • iCloud Drive - Like dropbox, but will span all your iCloud capable devices.

Gruber has a great post detailing how the Microsoft, Google, and Apple ecosystems are dealing with all these different devices and how things like Continuity fit into Apple's plan. The bottom line that Apple is trying to make one continuous experience across their devices, while letting the different platforms have their own related but distinct OSes. Although OS X is moving in the direction of the iOS aesthetic, it is not moving to iOS since each platform has their own hardware advantages. It is and will continue to be its own thing, as it should, but continues to be better integrated with mobile devices. I think this is going to be a great release.

I have the beta, but haven't installed it yet. It's coming this fall, and it's a free upgrade. 

 

iOS 8

iOS 8 banner in Moscone West (K. Sliech, iPhone 5S)

This is where the keynote started getting real exciting. iOS 8 brings a ton of polish and niceties to the OS, some that will be useful right away and others that will take time for developers to bring to the masses. Check out Apple's overview here, and what excites me most below:

  • Integration - iCloud Drive and Continuity with other Apple devices
  • New Keyboard(s) - The new keyboard has predictive text features that are context aware. Probably more importantly, you can now install 3rd party keyboards like Swype. 
  • Massive Improvements to Messages
    • Leave or silence group conversations (hallelujah!) 
    • Location sharing that times out after a period of time you select
    • Quick audio and video messages
    • Big collection view of all images in a thread
    • Expiration dates for received pictures
    • So many more updates to messages: Read about it.
  • Actionable Notifications - Think: Reply directly to a message from the lock screen or from a notification banner.

iOS 8 is going to be a great release. There are all sorts of other things, like HealthBook and the home automation stuff, but those are going to take time to matter. I haven't put the first beta on my carry phone, but it's on my 5 for testing purposes - it's pretty buggy right now. Expect it to drop in the fall just before the next iPhone ships. 

At this point in the keynote, we were all super pumped up. That's when Tim and Craig dropped the developer stuff on us and people's heads started exploding.

 

Developer Tools

The list of developer-facing features and updates that Federighi dropped on us was astounding. People were going crazy. I was going crazy. The interwebs were going crazy. I'm not going to get into the details here, but this quote from Brent Simmons early WWDC thoughts sums up how great this event was for developers.

It was like this, though — we kept hearing about things, even relatively small things, that all by themselves would have made for a great week. It was like the greatest Christmas ever — and then Santa Claus hung out so you could take selfies with him.

He wasn't joking, here's me and Santa Claus from later in the week. (If you don't know who Santa is, he's Craig Federighi, SVP of software at Apple - e.g. the guy who's in charge of Apple's software and the dominant force in the keynote)

Craig Federighi, Me, & rock and roll. (iPhone 5S)

The bottom line regarding the new developer-facing updates is that Apple has addressed the vast majority of iOS's limitations, not only very well, but in one fell swoop. I expect to see whole new classes of apps that were never possible before appear when iOS 8 drops this fall. It's going to be great. If you're looking for a high level overview of what i'm talking about, check out Apple's page on what's new for devs.

 

Swift

Nobody was expecting a new programming language (even though John Siracusa's been asking for one since 2005) and Apple dropped a nearly fully baked and modernized replacement for Objective-C. When Craig announced Swift, the electricity in the room was palpable. It was incredible. People were freaking out. It was a cacophony of 'holy shit's and 'oh my freaking god's. It took everyone by surprise, and was by far the hottest topic of the week, and will be for the foreseeable future. This language is the future of development at Apple, from the OSes themselves to the third party apps that schmucks like me write. 

Aside: If you're wondering where this language came from and/or looking for a software hero to worship, look no further than Chris Lattner. He started working on the language, by himself for the first year, back in 2010. And you may be thinking, what makes this guy qualified to come up with a new language for Apple? Well, this is also the guy who wrote the original LLVM compiler. Not. A. Dummy.

You can read more about Swift here. I can't wait to start learning it, but will be waiting some time before I dive in. Below, the thing on the left is not real but awesome. The thing on the right is both real and awesome.

 

The Sessions

I don't have much to say about the sessions except that they were exceptionally well done and are available online to all. Throughout the week I went to a number of sessions directly applicable to what I'm working on (On-boarding, custom UI, etc) and a few others that were out of my wheelhouse (Advanced CloudKit, SceneKit) just to get a taste of something new. I completely avoided the live Swift sessions, but I'm about 3.5 hours into the videos now.  

Actually, I do have one poignant thing to say about the sessions: They strap power outlets to the chair legs! And I appreciate power outlets. I even took a picture!

Under-chair power and coffee storage! I found this incredibly exciting. (K. Sliech, iPhone 5S)


The Labs

Frameworks Lab in action (K. Sliech, iPhone 5S)

I spent a real lot of time in the labs. In fact, I spent more time in the labs than I did in actual sessions, instead catching up on the videos of them later. The labs present an opportunity to have Apple engineers look at your code and field questions, often by the person who wrote a particular part of the environment. For example, when I went to the Tools Lab to resolve a weird source control issue within Xcode, the gent who worked on that part of Xcode straightened it out for me. Besides the social and networking aspects of being at WWDC, the labs are the main technical reason to attend WWDC - you can always watch the session videos later, but you never get to talk to Apple engineers otherwise.

UI Design Lab - the most coveted appointment of all. (K. Sliech, iPhone 5S)

The most important lab to attend, by far, is the UI Design Lab. Appointments fill up very quickly, often in the first hour or so of the day. I was able to snag one on the very first day they were available and met with an Apple designer about my iPhone app, Mutility. He had all sorts of interesting insights and suggestions, but his most useful act was to point me towards an ex-Apple UI designer that's a big MTG player. Turns out he already uses my app and says it's by far the best one in the store! That certainly made me happy. Besides the ego boost, I walked away with some things I need to work on.

 

Make Friends, Make Party

 WWDC Beer Bash with Bastille credentials. (K. Sliech, iPhone 5S, Instagram)

WWDC Beer Bash with Bastille credentials. (K. Sliech, iPhone 5S, Instagram)

I was lucky to meet a lot of great, fun developers during the week.There were so many awesome (and occasionally missing) memories from this week that were all made possible by these great folks. Special shout-outs to @brianpartridge@simontaen@kimahlberg@afwaller, @DentedMeat@Dirk_Gently, @lukei4655 and the many others that slipped through the contact-exchanging cracks. I came to the conference barely knowing a few people and feel like I've left with many more friends. I'm going to torture them with iOS dev questions... Sorry in advance guys.

It didn't hurt that there were multiple parties going on all over San Francisco every night of the conference, and I went to as many as I could. I had such a good time that, eh hem, I didn't quite make it to a single 9AM session the entire week. Oh well, I get credit for the pre-5AM arrival to the keynote line, right?

The week culminated in the Apple-hosted Bash, complete with many open bars, Bastille, and thousands of devs. Big props to Bastille for pointing out the obvious just before starting their set.

"This is the most male and intelligent crowd we've ever played for. No correlation of course!" - Bastille

Bastille at the WWDC Beer Bash (K. Sliech, iPHone 5S)

 

In Conclusion

The week was incredible, and I'm very lucky that I got the opportunity to go. It was a big bonus that this WWDC had the most epic announcements in many years, and I can now say that I was there for it. There's certainly much more to talk about, especially with the technical items that were announced, but I need more time to digest them.

WWDC will burn you out. I felt like this guy by the end of the week, but it was so worth it.

Felt like this guy by the end of the week. (K. Sliech, iPhone 5S)

But wait, there's more...

[1] Part 1 - The Conference (you're here)

[2] Part 2 - Thank You, Podcasters. 

[3] Part 3 - What's Next for Mutility (not written yet)