2013 WWDC keynote review: Apple gets mean (and desperate?)

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
2013 WWDC keynote review: Apple gets mean (and desperate?)
Apple has had a long history of making backhand digs at Android, and showing plenty of numbers and statistics (of varying degrees of honesty) that show how Apple is the leader in the mobile ecosystem. The numbers have had to change with the rise of Android, but Apple had tended to still not mention Android by name, until today. At the WWDC keynote, Apple started with an attack on Android and didn't let up throughout the rest of the event.

One quick note on this review of the WWDC keynote: we're not going to bother mentioning the amount of hyperbole in the announcement. At this point, we feel like faulting Apple for being hyperbolic with an announcement is like faulting the sun for being hot and bright. It's just the way it is, best to just take it as fact and move on. As we already mentioned, if you remove the hyperbole, iOS 7 is still a solid looking update

If you look through the history of Apple keynotes over the past few years, there has been an amusing trend in how the company tries to prove its success. At first, Apple loved to tout how many devices were sold, and how much market share iOS held. After a while, it became impossible to spin the numbers in a way to make it sound good, so Apple had to try other techniques, like talking about how consistent the devices were compared to "the competition". Then, Apple kept adding devices and screen sizes to the mix, and could no longer use the dreaded "F-word". Today, Apple tried a few new options, but most were direct attacks where Apple singled out Android by name. 

Apple began the keynote with thinly veiled attacks on Android (proper capitalization and punctuation added by us):

These were the words that opened WWDC 2013, and there is a lot that is packed into the subtext of those words, and a lot of it doesn't make much sense, so we want to go through it bit by bit. 

"If everyone is busy making everything, how can anyone perfect anything?" This seems like a message directly aimed at Android handset makers, but more specifically at Samsung. The message is clear that because Samsung builds so many different devices, none are perfect. While that is true, it doesn't prove the opposite. No device from Apple is perfect, because Apple devices assume a one-size-fits-all policy that simply doesn't work for many users. Many users feel like the iPhone is too small, and iOS to limited as far as customization, and those are valid opinions.

"We start to confuse convenience with joy, abundance with choice." This is still aimed at Android handset makers, but also at Google itself. The idea is that just because something is easy isn't the only thing to consider. If we try to read into it more, we would guess that an example would be widgets: just because it's easier to get information through a widget doesn't mean it's the best way, because you lose some of the experience, and perhaps joy that the app would provide. This argument is really a stretch, because in general, there is no reason to put convenience and joy into the same sphere. While you may get a bit of joy from an animation you see in an app while getting information, that joy diminishes each subsequent time you see it; but, the time saved from convenience never diminishes. 

And, on the topic of abundance vs choice, we would simply say that the statement is misleading at best. Sure, abundance can make choice more difficult without easy ways to organize and sort the various options presented, but abundance doesn't eliminate choice, nor does scarcity make for a better choice. This once again falls on the one-size-fits-all idea. A limited choice is only better than abundance if there are options to hit the majority of preferences. We'd say that there need to be 2 more iOS devices - one around 4.7" and one around 6.2" - before this argument can really hit home. 

"Designing something requires focus. The first thing we ask is: what do we want people to feel? Delight, surprise, love, connection. Then, we begin to craft around our intention. It takes time. There are thousands of no's for every yes." Again, this likely has some aim at manufacturers, and Samsung in particular, but really we're moving towards the jabs at Google here. The implication is that because Google has so many different products on so many platforms that focus is impossible, although the recent unification of Google product UI is proof enough that isn't true. There is also the implication that Google says "yes" to too many things, which could be true, but is really a matter of choice. For those of us who like to play with beta products, Google is a lovely playground. 

This segment of the opening is also an explicit excuse for Apple not moving to a faster release cycle. There are many who wanted to see a new iPhone this month, and probably wanted to see iOS 7 released sooner than the fall, but Apple wants it to be clear that kind of development isn't in the company's DNA... at least until it is. 

"We simplify, we perfect, we start over until every thing we touch enhances each life it touches. Only then do we sign our work." We can understand the first part, because Apple has always said that it aims to simplify and perfect (as far as its standards) before releasing a product. The strange part is "start over", because that implies that maybe iOS 7 was going to be something very different, but that idea was scrapped and everything rebooted. This could also be another excuse for the speed of development at Apple. It certainly doesn't apply to Google, because if there is anything that can be said about Android 4.0+ is that it was a full "start over" for the platform. 

Fun with statistics

The biggest part of Apple's attack strategy was in the statistics section of the keynote. Given that Apple couldn't go with any metrics involving sales or market share, Tim Cook decided to go with device usage. He showed a number of graphs and charts showing how iOS devices are simply used more than Android devices in terms of overall usage, web share, etc. There was the expected graphs about how much money the App Store makes. Cook even showed a metric about how iOS users were responsible for more shopping during the holidays than other platforms.

Of course, you may see a pattern with these statistics, which is that Apple seems to be very proud to not have low end devices and low income users. Apple would obviously spin it as saying the company is focused on high quality products, but the difference between the two interpretations is slim. This fact also becomes apparent with the statistic regarding customer satisfaction. 

Apple's smoking gun metric for the day (and likely to be the same stat we see for a while) is how its customer satisfaction rating compares to the competition. Apple has every right to be proud about it. Apple's mobile devices have incredibly high satisfaction ratings from customers and that's a great thing. Of course, it's much easier to do that when the only "low-end" devices available are simply the previous generation device, rather than a device specifically designed to hit a lower market, which would more likely have glaring issues. 

Ultimately, we always have trouble with statistics, because you can basically "prove" anything you want with them. Looking at Apple's statistics, the Mac platform is a far better place than Windows because it has better growth metrics, even though there is far less room for Windows to grow because it already controls about 90% of the market. 


Overall, today's keynote was mostly what we expected it to be. Apple spent more time on the Mac side of things that we would have thought, especially since there are still no indications that the company is working towards converging iOS and MacOS. It also seems strange that Apple looks to be setting up to stick with the OS X name, despite the fact that this year's release is 10.9, which would mean it's more likely that next year sees 10.10 rather than version 11. 

But, the real message of today's keynote was a solid one: Apple is working really hard on extending battery life of all its products. Apple has tried to be a leader in this area, and has always been careful to show off its work in building better batteries, but this time was all about optimizing the software for better battery life without compromising performance. That's an incredibly compelling feature alone for me, because while I get about 8 hours of life on my Chromebook, my Lenovo laptop can barely crack 2 hours, and while I tend to be rough with mobile devices, my Nexus 4 has only been able to last a day since I was able to offload some of the workload to a Nexus 7. So, it's very interesting to have a laptop with 13 hours of battery life, and whatever crazy number the iPhone 5S is likely to provide (not that I'll spend the money on the hardware, but my wife is in line for a new computer, and she's hooked on Mac). 

One thing that was somewhat annoying about the Apple keynote is how much of a contrast it was to Google's keynote to start I/O. Despite the fact that today was supposedly about launching this year's developer conference, the keynote was very consumer oriented. The developer elements of the announcements were almost throw-away portions of the event, which was what we should have expected, but still felt off after Google showed exactly how you can show off new products that appeal to consumers, but still fit into the feel of a developer conference. Granted, Apple is more of a hardware company, and has to make more time for hardware announcements, but the announcement, especially the iOS section was extremely light on new features that developers will be able to take advantage of in the new system. 


While Apple showed that it still has the capacity to surprise us, and show something new, both with the iOS 7 reveal as well as the Mac Pro teaser, the company hasn't proven that it can change the way it handles a keynote announcement. There was a fair amount of humor, especially when Craig Federighi was on stage (and really, can he just be the spokesman for Apple from here on out?) But, aside from the humor, this was a far more negative keynote than usual. Veiled jabs at Android and Google are one thing, but the way Apple came out with explicit attacks made the company come off as a bit desperate. As we said at the start, we always expect Apple to come out and use grandiose language to talk up its own products. 

Maybe the company thought it would come across like the Mac vs PC ads, but there was no bumbling John Hodgman to be the butt of the joke, Apple was just flat out attacking the competition. And, that never sits well with us. It's the difference between the Samsung ads, which more make fun of Apple fans, and Microsoft ads, which directly come out and call iOS devices useless, and Google crooked. There's a line in there, and today it felt like Apple crossed it a few times. 

We really liked what we saw with iOS 7, although we don't expect it to be a game-changer, it should be a great update for users. The Mac side wasn't as impressive, with the notable exception of the Mac Pro. And, overall it felt a bit too mean-spirited, which made Apple's usual hyperbole sound like it was trying too hard to convince us all that everything was okay, when maybe it isn't. 



1. paulyyd

Posts: 340; Member since: Jan 08, 2011

Lol desperate? Right..

6. james004

Posts: 486; Member since: May 15, 2013

I still dont like iOs because its still limited to provide customization, But this version of iOs actually looks pretty nice, even though its has elements from Google Now and Windows phones.

20. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Yup. When they are having to attack Android by name, they are showing their desperation. The ONLY reason they released iOS 7 today was they were losing sales to Android. A similar circumstance occurred about 2 (maybe 3, it has been a while) years ago when they released the notification function. They were getting pilloried in the press about having some dumbass beep to tell the user they had received an email or text, when Android had a notification panel since what v. 2.0? It got to the point where even Steve realized that a proper notification was a make-or-break matter and Scott was told to build one into iOS. I am not knocking iOS v. 7 - it really looks improved. But it isn't as if Apple re-imagined what a smartphone OS is supposed to be. Re-imagined what iOS is supposed to be, yes; but not all smartphones.

56. sprockkets

Posts: 1612; Member since: Jan 16, 2012

Android had that feature since *day 1*.

21. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

They sound pretty desperate to me. This whole day was supposed to be about Apple, right? So why are they taking shots at Android?

24. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

And not just any shots... Those where direct bullets and it seems they are running out of ammo

27. anywherehome

Posts: 971; Member since: Dec 13, 2011

because almost every new feature since iOS4 has been Android rip-off

2. ihatesmartphone unregistered

What can I say about ios7... Hmm.... With a little tweak here and there, and combine with a looks and feels from wp8 and android.. Of course, Apple gets desperate!!

28. anywherehome

Posts: 971; Member since: Dec 13, 2011

dont forget that the colours are great for kids (plenty of yellow icons) like the features are (no default app selection, no free copy) so now a great device for kids and McCain :)

3. biophone

Posts: 1994; Member since: Jun 15, 2011

I would really like a bump in battery for the iphone while maintaning its slim form factor. This has been a big challenge for current phones,tablets, and computers. Any advance in this department compared to what we are at now is appreciated.

4. mas11

Posts: 1034; Member since: Mar 30, 2012

I'm just waiting for Google's response to iOS 7, this article and the update pretty much sums how Apple stole from them:http://www.droid-life.com/2013/06/10/that-moment-when-ios7-became-android/

11. SleepingOz unregistered

I was right, their "true" multitasking is the same old crap with just a redesigned webos-like ui.

5. alltechinside

Posts: 248; Member since: Apr 21, 2013

Great article! I didn't really dive into those meaning of the words at the video, but wow, Apple was bashing android so much. Shows how much Apple is getting desperate. Don't be surprised to see more later this fall :D Anyways, that was a great article! Love to see more work from you :D

17. ncarlosmiguel

Posts: 206; Member since: May 14, 2013

And some people here at PA says that Michael is a "die hard Apple fan".

42. Reluctant_Human

Posts: 913; Member since: Jun 28, 2012

People are always quick to judge other people based on how they want to see them which is really sad.

53. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

Which is utterly ridiculous. He joined right in with the comments sections during the GNex launch because he wanted the phone as much as we did! When it comes to his op-ed pieces, I think he's the best and most impartial on this site.

7. eman99

Posts: 410; Member since: Aug 03, 2010

Step up to the plate and struck out that's what I saw

8. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

I'll have to watch the keynote, but from what you wrote this all seems pretty normal. I don't really get the line that they've crossed and what makes Samsung's onslaught of anti-iPhone ads okay and Microsoft's Surface vs iPad ad acceptable. Conferences like these are pretty common for sh*t talking and many times competitors often put up images of the competition and explain why theirs are better. I could be completely wrong, but I personally think it stems from the fact that you personally disagree with Apple's statements and were maybe somewhat offended and not necessarily that they crossed any line. As an Android user, you usually don't find yourself the butt end of some of these jokes which you say is funny/fun but others may feel extremely biased, inaccurate or even offensive. Now you found yourself on the receiving end. If Google was talking about Apple's limited operating system that doesn't do a good job of reaching everyone's needs (essentially the exact opposite of Apple's statement today), I doubt it would be a point of contention. And I don't think Apple was referring to individual companies like Samsung. I think instead they were basically treating Google and LG, Samsung, HTC, etc as a whole and therefore its messy and all over the place with no clear direction, something which many Android users themselves have stated and one of the reasons why many, myself included, prefer the pure unadulterated Android. In terms of confusion vs choice, I also 100% agree with this statement. Its common for people to say that Apple forces its users to use 4inch devices, but Android manufacturers force you to use much larger phones if you want the best features, specs/hardware, etc. People love their S3s and S4s but many say that they feel that its pretty big. Are they going to run and buy the S4 mini? Yeah right, its clear that the mini is an inferior device. As for talking about low end devices and low end users, I don't see why developers would care about that. Developers follow the money and usage and that's exactly what Apple highlighted. Developers already are significantly biased towards iOS and so it was actually extremely important that Apple not focus too much on APIs and instead address many of the issues and concerns of the consumers. And the "F-word" is still looming around

9. alltechinside

Posts: 248; Member since: Apr 21, 2013

The ones you referenced comes from commercials. Everyone pretty much bashes each other on commercials. This is about Keynote. From what I've seen, only Apple bashes competitors on their keynote with these pathetic remarks.

22. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

That is false. I haven't watched the last Google I/O, but they have made jabs at Apple before, to which the audience would laugh. I can't remember any concrete example from my head, but companies don't hesitate to compare their phones to the competition and often during their events they bring up images on the big screen directly comparing their devices to the competition and sometimes making fun, whether its battery life, screen sizes, speed, etc Every single person constantly compares iOS and Android and many people thought that iOS 7 was important for Apple to reaffirm its presence as a competitor against Android. Why not begin by stating their philosophy when it comes to hardware/OS and why they personally think they are better than the competition? Seems like a natural thing to do. They needed to come with guns ready and I think they did that. LIke I said earlier, if Google was talking about Apple's limited operating system and how it doesn't do a good job of reaching everyone's needs, which they've done before, would it be considered mean and desperate? No This was not suppose to be nice, and many of you thought this was live or die. They needed to flip iOS over and show us that they are not going to go down without a fight. I definitely like what I'm seeing and only hope they keep this same fighting spirit throughout all their OS/hardware upgrades. Today was more about the consumers, not the developers

25. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

Actually I have seen most android and iOS keynotes and this was by far the most bashing keynote I've seen on the camp Google bashed iOS back on 2.2 when it added new features to android witch will evolve how Google play works and the introduction of flash and their new engine with the word "on the internet people use flash" but the new keynotes are moving far from bashing apple directly... Now on the contrary many keynote moments of the current iOS was really direct attacking android

10. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Great article, as usual, Michael. You have my sympathy: my wife also prefers to be a mac user but is gradually coming around as the reality of buying and maintaining her own electronics became the reality instead of using her parents' devices she grew up with (and the fact I tend to buy the electronics and refuse to buy anything with an apple logo on it). I read on another site that there was another look/feel to ios7 during development but it was ballyhooed as being TOO Windows Phone-like it was scrapped, and apparently went in this Windows Vista + Android setup instead.

12. nothingmuch

Posts: 201; Member since: May 03, 2013

First apple patents NFC, then they get swiftkey, now quick control panel... its a set up to take total control after they patent all that what makes android and wp8 stand apart from each other! Whats next, iphone gets LWP and file explorer.

13. rallyguy

Posts: 620; Member since: Mar 13, 2012

Good article.

14. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

Amusing to see the stark contrast between the comments here and those on my last article. And yet, I'm sure there are those out there who think we here at PA have the bias and not our readership...

19. alltechinside

Posts: 248; Member since: Apr 21, 2013

Ya, I read your article about "iOS 7 kneejerk review" and you haven't really said anything wrong.(or at least in my opinion). If people think copying ideas from others is bad, then fine, But Apple catching up to the competition is perfectly fine because it will only encourage google to innovate.

33. quakan

Posts: 1418; Member since: Mar 02, 2011

Hey Michael, Why did PA do away with the thumb down option? Was there some strong reasoning behind it?

39. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

I haven't asked, but I assume it's because it was being abused. Some people would go through and thumbs down everything on the page.

41. BREvenson

Posts: 240; Member since: May 17, 2012

Sounds logical. Plenty of haters/fanboys on both sides go nuts with the thumbs down. On top of that, there are plenty of people who get a vast majority of the thumbs down around here. I don't have to mention names, of course...

47. Stuntman

Posts: 843; Member since: Aug 01, 2011

I think some people post just to try to get as many thumbs down as possible. I am glad they did away with the thumbs down. We'll have to give it a few weeks at least to see what effect it has on the quality of the posts here.

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