This year Apple decided to ADA different. Here's why and who won!
Instead of the traditional award show on Monday night, which was great in the moment but often got buried beneath all the keynote news, Apple handed out the Design Awards (ADA) in a small, private ceremony where the developers got to meet with Craig Federighi and other executives.
Now, with the keynote safely behind them, Apple is launching the ADAs to the public with a brand new website and a proper moment for each and every one of the winners — and their apps — to shine.
I had the opportunity to meet with the winners, talk to them about their apps, and hear many of their stories. What struck me about each and every one was how above and beyond they went to make great experiences for as many customers as possible.
They all thought deeply not just about the app or game's primary function, but about using Apple frameworks in new and novel ways. Localization was also high on every list, with translations for half a dozen or more geographies — even 32 in one case!
Likewise accessibility. Making great apps means making them great for everyone, and more and more developers are doing just that.
Apple uses the ADAs not just to recognize the great apps of the past year but to point the way for next year as well. It's a powerful, influential podium. And, certainly, Apple favors those who build expressly for — even only for — iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. But I don't think it's a coincidence that the the developers who care most about their work want to use the technologies that provide the best, most native experience.
Apple's not saying if future ADAs will remain like this, revert to the award show format, and be entirely different again next year.
I for one liked the change, even if I missed seeing the heads of evangelism and developer relations up on stage hosting, and the winners racing up to claim their glowing cubes.
The spotlight on stage is instant gratification, though. Here's hoping this and other media spotlights today provide longer and more global exposure.