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WWDC 2013 keynote: a love letter to users

Step Christopher

Depending upon your perspective as a developer, you may have been disappointed by the relative lack of developer-focused information in the WWDC 2013 keynote. I was not.

As a developer, I’m working toward the same goal that Apple is: to delight people and improve their lives. So seeing Apple serve our shared audience so well means good things for the near-term future of iOS development. Yesterday’s keynote was a love letter to those users.

Apple made it clear that the Mac platform is alive and well. If you wondered what the next step was in the iOS-ification of OS X, Apple gave the same answer as always: Mac stands on its own merits. Apple has continued to improve the integration between their platforms, but not by pursuing some generic, hand-wavy goal of making them more similar. Each OS will continue to be fully tailored for the devices it is on, each detail intentional to that context. Apple has added even more shared APIs, as well as implemented pieces across lots of shared concepts (notifications, Messages, Maps, AirDrop, etc.). But they’re not sharing the UI or UX wholesale. Each detail of integration is hand-crafted for the platform it lives on.

Improved experiences

Let’s look at just one example. Users can now choose to get their iOS app’s push notifications on their Mac too. Not only can users have an improved experience, but Apple has just extended developers’ reach to customers. This can change how we think about push notifications, when and what to send.

You should start thinking about how you can use this to improve your user’s experience with your app. I don’t know if we have access to also allow custom responses/interaction right within the notifications, but I hope so. Certainly this makes it more compelling to use push notifications where they make sense, and also to consider a companion Mac app.

The moral of the story

The biggest takeaway I got from the WWDC keynote is that you should understand your users’ problem. Not their proposed solution, but the underlying problem. Then you should solve that problem, paying close attention to context and to the details. Don’t be distracted by any other solution you’ve seen before.

Instead, you should strive to design the perfectly fit solution, custom-tailored to the problem. Clear away everything else, and you’ll have something beautiful and powerful. All those things you cleared away? They can come back after you get the first, focused release out there. Iterate. Release. Listen to your customers. And repeat.

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