In an interview with YouTuber MKBHD, Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi shared his thoughts on WWDC on its official last day. The interview starts off talking about the keynote itself. WWDC 2020 was a pre-recorded keynote which is receiving great reviews for its quality and enjoyable nature.
Craig said the production team took the opportunity to show the world Apple Park, a place many won’t get to see in person. Much of the keynote was drone shoots of Apple Park, zooming in and out of rooms, hallways, and more to transition from presenter to presenter. He adds that the work done that went into the production is “admirable” saying that not only was production time-limited, all of the software also had to be ready to be demoed and shown off.
Moving onto iOS, Craig says that convenience and customization are attributes of iOS 14 with the introduction of widgets and the App Library. App Clips Craig says will enable users to do more things at ease “in the moment” emphasizing convenience as its core factor. Addressing the term “jiggle mode,” the mode where apps jiggle to move them around, Craig says that the term is often used internally at meetings and that it came out naturally during the keynote.
When asked about how wide of an adaption he thinks widgets will have with users, Craig says that remains a source of speculation internally. Craig adds that the team focuses on ease and “successive discovery” for users, giving people the freedom to use the features of the system to however degree they feel fit and comfortable with.
A part of that was by default adding Smart Stacks, a rotating stack of widgets that uses Siri intelligence to give you the right information at the right time was the first step in easing users into Widgets. That allows all users to use the new feature without configuring anything. He adds that his children have debated how they will set up their homescreen. One child says they want to maintain the classic iOS homescreen look, others saying they’ll go all out with widgets.
A landmark feature of iOS and iPadOS 14 is the ability for users to set a default app for email and browsers. While the change is welcome, MKBHD presses Craig on why it’s limited to those, and not other options such as maps. In response, Craig says that the top two items were browsers and emails when the team was conducting research but says that the idea of maps is heard. He also mentions how normal operating systems sometimes descend into “chaos” when users are given too much freedom.
He says that the team “proceeds cautiously” on these things to ensure that iOS remains a safe experience, without users getting trapped in potentially fraudulently and/or tracking-based apps. In a rather large announcement, Craig says on the podcasts that apps will have to meet certain requirements before users can set it as their default app. He rightful justifies this by saying that Apple doesn’t want a random app claiming its a browser app by simply using a WebKit API.
Staying on the topic of widgets, iPadOS 14 does offer them however only pinned on the side. When prompted with the prospect of giving users the ability to place them freely on the homescreen, Craig says “We’ll see”. He doesn’t shut down the idea completely, hinting that this may be a feature that comes in a future iPadOS 14 beta as calls for it grow stronger. Craig goes on to laud new iPadOS 14 refinements such as the sidebar in stock apps, Scribble with the Apple Pencil, and hand-writing recognition.
While iOS and iPadOS 14 bring a new compact Siri UI when in use, the screen remains unusable almost defeating the purpose. Craig says that internally they tested two different modes, a useable and non-useable style of the UI. He says that what the team found was that if the screen remains unusable, there was an added step to dismiss the results before users can begin interacting with their device again. He says that the team will hear feedback throughout the beta period, but that there is the option for both.
Transitioning into macOS, MKBHD asks the head of Apple’s crack marketing team what his favorite landmarks are that haven’t been macOS names yet. In response, Craig says that future macOS names are the most “highly protected” secret at Apple. Craig made clear that while macOS Big Sur does have a new design, it still feels like a Mac.
Listen to the full podcast here.