Posted by Ashleigh Allsopp 04 June 2014
Since the death of Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs, I've always thought Apple seemed a little unsure of itself during keynotes. It's not surprising, really, as Jobs had always been the face of Apple. He dominated all of Apple's keynotes and had incredible stage presence, captivating the audience immediately.
So when it was Tim Cook's time to take over, it was quite clear to everyone that there was a gaping hole where Jobs had been, and that Cook was all too aware of that. It was almost as though Cook was unsure, like he hadn't quite found his feet, and Apple seemed a little lost. The keynotes were never bad, but it didn't feel like Apple really had a definitive personality.
WWDC 2014 changed all that, and I absolutely loved it. Apple executives – "Superman" senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi in particular - were cracking jokes left, right and centre, and most of them were actually really funny, if a little silly. I found myself genuinely laughing out loud throughout the two-hour-long presentation, and wore a smile on my face long after it had ended.
It's almost like someone hit refresh, and Apple sprung back with excitement, enthusiasm and wit. Despite the lack of any hardware announcements, I came away from Apple's latest keynote feeling more optimistic and excited about Apple's future than I have in a long time.
Each executive that took to the stage was confident, upbeat and sure of himself, and it was truly a joy to watch. From jokes about Craig Federighi's famous hairstyle to the suggestion that Apple considered calling OS X Yosemite OS X Weed, Apple was having a great time up there, and it wanted the world to know it.
"It was just a year ago here at WWDC when we narrowly averted a major OS X naming crisis," said Federighi as he was about to introduce OS X Yosemite. "Well, it's time for another year and another name, so we collected our crack product marketing team, shoved them in their VW minibus, and sent them out on the road… They boldly ventured North, landing at OS X Weed. Strangely, this one had large pockets of support within the marketing organisation, but saner heads did prevail."
Later, when demonstrating Mail, Federighi said: "To give these people some inspiration about what they might be able to experience at karaoke night, I'll summon a picture from last year's karaoke night." Up popped a picture of Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of internet software and services, singing (and wearing Beats headphones, of course). "Now that oughta get them going."
Continuing the Mail demonstrations later in the keynote, Federighi got a message. "It says, 'great collaboration. You and Jony [Ive] have really come together well'," read Federighi, clicking to reveal a Photoshopped photo of Ive with Federighi's grey hair. "Oh dear God," Federighi continued. "Well this could be a good time to demo our quick delete feature!"
While showing off iMessage threads, iPhone marketing guy Greg Jozwiak took a brilliantly funny selfie with his iPhone, to which another Apple executive replied via a voice response: "Impressive Joz, you've totally mastered the duckface selfie."
Soon after, Federighi send Jozwiak a video message starring himself wearing a grey wig that resembled the hairstyle of a mad scientist. "Joz, we've got a serious situation developing back here! You've got to do something," said Federighi as someone behind him approaches with a hedge-trimmer to tackle the problem. "I'm going to need you to buy us some more time."
"That hair doesn't come easy," said Jozwiak.
Yes, it was all a bit silly, but it was just great. The audience loved it, and so did I. It was playful and human, and restored faith in me that the company is still confident about its position, despite the ever-improving competition.
This fun and open new attitude reflected many of Apple's announcements from WWDC 2014 too. Apple is opening up elements of iOS to developers to let apps work together like never before, and it seems like the company is listening to both its developers and consumers more than it used to, introducing new features that were top of our wish lists.
Apple has now become a loveable and approachable friend rather than the authoritative figure that used to tell us what we can and can't do. It's inviting us to be part of the team, not only by giving consumers more personalisation and developers more freedom, but also by offering the public a chance to be a part of the testing process of OS X Yosemite.
I believe that this is the start of something new and incredibly exciting for Apple, and I for one can't wait to find out what it's going to do next. I'm already eagerly awaiting Apple's next keynote, dad jokes included.