News in Review: WWDC, Microsoft, LinkedIn and More

Friday, June 17, 2016

The biggest news in the creative world this week was Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. This is an annual gathering where developers get an inside look at Apple's technologies, including new features slated for iOS and OS X.

I won't try to rehash all the news from WWDC: You can read about it in The Verge, Recode, Ars Technica, CNET, TechRadar, et al.

Clockwork Apple

One development of note is that Apple is rebranding OS X, which will henceforth be known as (drum roll, please)… "macOS." Slated for fall release is macOS Sierra, which among other features will finally include Siri, the voice-enabled "personal assistant" that's long been available on the iPhone and iPad.

I can foresee creative pros asking for design advice: "Hey, Siri. What font should I use with Helvetica?" (The answer on my iPad is a link to a Bloomberg article about "The Best and Worst Fonts to Use on Your Résumé.")

Though it received scant attention in the opening-day keynote, some tech and photography sites were a-buzz with the news that iOS 10 will add support for RAW image capture, a feature already available for Android devices. Professional photographers and enthusiasts (like me) typically prefer RAW formats because they yield better quality than JPEG. But they also consume gobs of file space, and even with RAW image-capture, a smartphone is no match for DSLRs and other higher-end cameras. TechCrunch has some helpful details about how the feature will be implemented. As with macOS Sierra, this new iOS version is scheduled for a fall release.

Microsoft, please add me to your network

Microsoft had news of its own, as it announced a $26.2 billion deal to acquire LinkedIn, the business-oriented social network. In a company memo, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that LinkedIn "will retain its distinct brand and independence," but he also sees opportunities to integrate LinkedIn features with Office 365 as well as Dynamics, Microsoft's cloud-based customer relationship management tool.


Casey Newton of The Verge thinks LinkedIn would benefit from less independence. "Over the last year," he writes, "contempt for LinkedIn became a bona fide cultural phenomenon." He points, for example, to the company's "aggressive email tactics" and lackluster apps. He concludes that "this is the rare case where nearly any change to the acquired company would seem preferable to the status quo."

Devindra Hardawar of Engadget thinks the acquisition will be good for both companies, though he acknowledges that it "almost feels like a gag from HBO's Silicon Valley." But Peter Bright of Ars Technica is scratching his head. He sees some benefits for Microsoft, but not 26 billion dollars' worth.

For creative professionals, one interesting—or perhaps disconcerting—aspect of the deal is that it will bring under Microsoft's umbrella. Founded in 1995 by web-design guru Lynda Weinman, has become a top destination for online courses about creative tools and business software (I owe much of my knowledge about Drupal theming to one of those courses). LinkedIn acquired Weinman's company in April 2015 for $1.5 billion.

Google Fonts gets a facelift

Google put a shiny new user interface on its font library. The site looks great, and it's now much easier to browse the collection, which has grown from humble beginnings to more than 800 font families. They're provided under open-source licenses, so you can download them to your computer or embed them in web pages at no cost.

Google Fonts

Each font has a specimen page where you can see it in combination with popular pairings. A link at the bottom of the page lets you test the font in Typecast, a free web-design tool from Monotype.

Shown here are Amarante by Karolina Lach, Rye by Nicole Fally and Sancreek by Vernon Adams.

My website uses Friedrich Althausen's Vollkorn, a typeface I discovered on Google Fonts. However, I eventually downloaded an updated version from Althausen's website because it gave me a wider range of styles.

More Maker Faire coverage

Earlier, I posted two slide shows from the 2016 Bay Area Maker Faire, one focused on creative tools and the other on some eye-catching projects. This week, I also contributed an article to the HOW magazine website with additional photos from the event.

Note: The "Clockwork Apple" illustration is a composite made in Photoshop from images in Adobe Stock. The apple originated as a photo by Yannick Saint-Andre. The gears were from photos by donatas1205.