We’ve just entered into the golden hour of technology, the time between the developer previews shown off at Build, Google IO, and WWDC and the final consumer releases. Now we wait for the new apps and hardware that will ride upon the refreshed operating systems. Enjoy it because the anticipation is usually better than the real thing.
Purchasing a new phone, tablet, laptop, or smartwatch we’ve desired for months rarely delivers upon our lofty expectations. Sure, there’s a surge of delight at the time of purchase, but that diminishes quickly. So we keep buying, keep consuming. Keep chasing that scut of technology ad infinitum. The iPhone 6 didn’t do it, but surely the 6s will… or maybe the 7. This is what it means to be a consumer, in search of the almighty fix that never quite satisfies. But that’s ok because we’re already high.
Pop psychology will tell you that the key to happiness is having something to look forward to; that we should pay for experiences, not products. And there is undoubtedly joy in chasing the tail of the tech we desire, urged forward by rumors, leaks, and new announcements. But catching it with a well-timed snap of the jaws can only disappoint. “What now?” we think, having achieved our goal.
So here we are. The day after WWDC with all its promises of a “revolutionary” Apple Music, pinned Safari tabs, iPad multitasking, native Apple Watch apps, OS X refinements, and Google Now-like assistance on the iPhone. Savor the anticipatory joy because it's better than anything Apple's ever made.
Five stories to start your day
If there's one reveal people were hoping for at WWDC, it was Apple's long-rumored music service. On this count, Tim Cook delivered, promising to "change the way that you experience music forever" with a new streaming platform. Flashy as the whole thing was, though, it followed two hours of low-key but fairly solid tweaks to Apple's software products, from new versions of OS X and iOS to updates of its car, home, and watch software.
But what I did see was a mostly functional and mostly straightforward music streaming app. I often get caught saying that a particular app or technology is boring, but that's okay — sometimes boring means reliable, predictable, and easy-to-understand. That definitely applies to Apple Music, which despite Apple's protestations is a streaming service amongst a large and growing set of other streaming services, virtually a commodity. But it's a good one.
Streaming music providers, so far, are breathing a sigh of relief after learning what Apple Music is — and isn’t. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek made his thoughts known. Multiple executives throughout the music and streaming industry have made it clear to The Verge that while it would be a success, they don’t believe that Apple Music will have the same industry-altering effect as its predecessor, iTunes, once had.
Apple prides itself on thinking and being different to everyone else. It acknowledges competitors like Microsoft and Google only grudgingly, and usually in a way that only illustrates how much nicer and more prosperous its own Mac and iPhone platforms are. It will have hurt that pride, therefore, to have to announce today that the big new Apple initiative, Apple Music, will be available on iPhones, iPads, Macs, PCs, and Android.
The tension between human-curation and machine-learning is symptomatic of both the state of consumer electronics, as well as the ever-developing state of the music industry. For Apple, that push and pull goes back to what Steve Jobs always claimed were the two pillars of the company: technology and the liberal arts.