Items of note

Although I didn’t like the last 30–45 minutes of Monday’s WWDC keynote, I did like what preceded it—both the substance and how it was presented. People may think the updates in El Capitan and iOS 9 are small potatoes, but getting the little details right makes for the best user experience. That’s why Apple users are Apple users.

The improvements to Safari, especially Mute All Tabs, are the kinds of advances that, as Jason Snell said in the most recent episode of Upgrade, come only when developers observe users closely and think carefully about how to smooth out their experiences. I’ve always preferred Safari to Chrome, and El Capitan will keep me firmly in the Safari camp.

I might even give Apple Mail a tentative trial run. Ever since the debacle with Mail on Mavericks, I’ve been a MailMate user. I’m happy with MailMate, but there are always advantages to sticking with Apple’s own apps. If Apple Mail actually works in El Capitan, it may be time to think about switching back. If I do, I’ll have to find a replacement for MailMate’s Move to Mailbox… command, which has become an indispensable part of my email workflow.

On the more technical side, the open sourcing of Swift and the expected expansion of it to servers means I’ll start looking into it more closely. I haven’t learned a new language in ages; it’ll be fun to see if I still can.

On the iOS side, the biggest news is not News (although I am interested in seeing if Apple pulls it off—it’s hard to beat the web when it comes to showing and organizing web pages), it’s the Slide Over and Split View additions for the iPad. I won’t be rushing out to buy an iPad because of them, but I will think more carefully about what my next non-iPhone computing device will be.

Oddly enough, the announcement that piqued my interest the most was the new Notes app.

Notes example

Image from Apple

I’m a plain text guy, and I stopped using Notes when Simplenote arrived on the scene. And even though I’ve moved around between note-taking apps—Simplenote, Elements, Notesy, Drafts, and Editorial—I’ve never even considered going back to Notes. I think of it as the note-taking app for people who don’t know any better. But its new abilities to take photos from within the app, make clickable checklists, add sketches,1 and collect information from other apps via the Share Sheet, combined with its hands-off syncing to the Mac, make it a compelling choice for certain types of notes. I can’t believe I’m writing this.

  1. No, I don’t expect to be able to make decent sketches with my finger, and my current iPhone 5S is really too small to sketch on. but with a bigger iPhone and a stylus…