Ina Fried

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Evernote’s Phil Libin and Flipboard’s Mike McCue on iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks

It’s easy to tell what Apple thinks of iOS 7, with everyone from Tim Cook on down praising it as the biggest thing since the iPhone.

Phil Libin at WWDC 2013

To get a reality check, we chatted just after the keynote finished with two prominent Apple developers: Evernote CEO Phil Libin and Flipboard CEO Mike McCue.

Both liked what they saw, but said they needed more details to really know what it means for them.

As for Libin, the one thing he’s certain of is that he is going to get the new Mac Pro that Apple premiered at the conference. Here are his answers to a few other questions.

Have they made life easier for you as a developer?

Libin: We’re never looking for our life to be made easier. I’ve never been this excited about just how much work is ahead of us over the next couple months. We are going to rethink a lot of things with iOS 7, but I think it is going to be great.

What are the biggest opportunities?

The whole look is different. That’s not just changing the icon. It’s rethinking every part of the app. It’s going to be a total overhaul just to make the app worthy of the new iOS.

But also a bunch of the capabilities sound really exciting. I’m really interested to see what the new multitasking APIs are. That’s one thing we’ve always wanted more on the phones on iOS — better background processing, better multitasking, a bit more connections with other services or other apps. We’ll see what we can do there.

Were there any features you hoped for you didn’t see?

I try to keep my expectations pretty open-ended, since guessing what they are going to do is pretty random. I was happy to see the redesign was not just cosmetic.

What about on the Mac? Were there any changes there for what you guys do?

I’m definitely going to get the new Mac Pro as soon as I can get it. That was pretty sweet. The new OS X — it seems like a bunch of incremental improvements. The things we use in OS X that are getting better are notifications. … I’d love to see how we can play with the new maps, if maybe we can integrate with the tag system they have — if we can make Evernote tags [work] with the Finder tabs they have.

Update: I followed up with Libin to see what he was thinking a day later. “I’ve had some time to play with iOS 7 now and it’s confirmed my initial reaction: This is a very big deal for us,” he said. “We’re going to have to do a serious redesign of our apps to really take advantage of the new capabilities, but it’ll lead to a much better product. Lots of work, lots of excitement.”


Asa Mathat | D: All Things Digital

As for Flipboard’s McCue, he said the new software was inspiring to him as both a developer and user and that “everybody has to step up their game a bit.” Here’s what he had to say in response to our questions.

Was there anything specific in iOS 7 for you? Are there new opportunities created?

McCue: Multitasking for me. I need to get a little bit more detail. To the extent we can do some things like downloading in the background, that’s absolutely huge. There’s a lot of great new UI stuff. I think the clean look of iOS is very compatible with how we think of things. I loved the notifications integration into OS X.

Would you do an OS X version of Flipboard?

It’s certainly one of the most requested things we have on our list. Certainly we’ve thought about it quite some time, but we’ll have to see.

Were you at all concerned with the new reading list feature where you go from one story recommended by your friends to another? Obviously some people use Flipboard for that.

Not really. There’s all sorts of different capabilities that are built into browsers these days that let you do that kind of stuff. Flipboard, especially today, has evolved into a whole ecosystem of people building magazines and sharing content. I think more ways to see your tweets integrated into the OS is a good thing overall.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus