By Jason Snell
May 31, 2018 8:19 PM PT
Let the Summer Begin
Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) is next week, marking the official start of summer for those of us who follow what Apple’s up to. Unlike most Apple media events, which launch a few new products into the world, WWDC is only the starting gun in an endurance challenge that lasts through September (or, depending on how you count, nearly a year).
It’s all because of the software. WWDC is a conference focused on software developers, so it’s the best place for Apple to unveil its plans for its platforms—and evangelize the new stuff to an attentive audience of developers, both in the building and watching on the Internet. (These days WWDC sessions are streamed live and archived for later playback, a far cry from the days when you’d wait months for the WWDC DVD box set to be delivered. I’m not kidding.)
As a result, we’ve settled into a pattern where WWDC announcements in June are followed immediately by the availability of early release “developer beta” versions of macOS, iOS, tvOS, and watchOS—in other words, the first releases of the software the rest of us will be installing in September when these new versions go final. Later this summer we’ll see the first public beta editions, letting the brave souls who are not registered Apple developers risk the reliability of their devices in exchange for early access to new features they first saw on stage during next week’s keynote.
It’s a funny thing, spending the summer with beta operating systems in the wild. It means that after an initial flurry of stories, those of us who write about this stuff go into long-term planning, in many cases for the only time of the year. The summer is for writing long OS reviews, how-to articles, and in my case, updating books that hinge on the operating system. (I’ve had a book about Photos for Mac and iOS for a few years now, and yes, I’m anticipating doing a new edition for release this fall.)
After a few weeks of cold, foggy conditions here in the Bay Area, the last few days were properly summery, and I spent a good chunk of the afternoon sitting in a chair out under the redwood tree. I can’t tell you how many reviews of Mac OS X I have written or edited under that tree. I recently acquired an old Titanium PowerBook from a friend (thanks, Chip) and it took me back… to that same backyard, under that same tree. And so for me, summer will always be about having my feet on the grass in the shade of a tall tree… wrestling with beta software and trying to understand all the changes Apple is making to the stuff we use every day. It’s a funny life.
Anyway, the truth is that this is my favorite time of year. In part because I like warm weather, or at least what passes for it in this part of the world. And in part because it’s a chance to change pace and dive deep into the new software Apple is offering. Next week will still be about quick reactions to big stories, software and (one would hope) hardware, but after that I’m looking forward to taking my shoes off, sitting under the tree, and pondering the big picture of where Apple’s taking us all this fall.