WWDC Keynote reflections

10441First off: No, I was not actually present at the keynote this morning. I was watching updates flow in through the news feed while at work. I wish I had been because it was a busy day.

It’s kind of a funny thing for Apple to make announcements at a developer conference. They’ve been doing this for years, so I’m not saying that it’s out-of-the-ordinary. What I’m saying though is that making announcements targetted towards consumers at a conference for developers ends up giving you a kind of weird mix of information. If Apple were still doing MacWorld shows, or if this had been one of their “Special Media Events”, we would have gotten a simple run down of features, and a bunch of pretty pictures. At a developer conference, we instead get sprinkled in there notes about operating system, memory management, API access, and programming features that mean nothing to consumers.

Anyway, at WWDC, there were really 3 major portions here:

  • iPhone
  • MacBooks
  • Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6)

They weren’t presented in that order, but I’m going to look at them in that order. My blog, my rules 🙂

iPhone

The iPhone’s been out for about 2 years now. It’s gone through one major hardware upgrade and a few major OS updates. The most recent announcement of software updates is to iPhone 3.0. Among the updates to the iPhone OS comes peer-2-peer communication over bluetooth (so you can communicate with other iPhones – such as in games), Tethering (over USB and WiFi), and the possibility of Flash (according to Apple this is up to Adobe). This is all good news. I’ve speculated with friends that the new openness is coming out of Apple’s need to compete with other next-gen phones that are coming out on the market. Market Competition for the Win!

iphone3gs_4upMore than the OS, is the release of new Hardware. Apple announced the iPhone 3Gs today. It still looks the same on the outside, but according to Apple, it’s all new on the inside. More memory, faster processor, more storage, a compass (A magnetic sensitive device makes it a real compass), and this on top of the already existing WiFi,Bluetooth,GPS, Capacitive multi-touch screen. I’m excited for the 3Gs. I’m a Tmobile user though, so hackers start your engines, and Aaron start your cash machine… $699 w/no contract. 😛

MacBooks

Apple did a weird thing a couple of years ago. They made a portable device, reliant on power, with a battery that couldn’t be exchanged. For a phone, it was concerning, but not considered to be a big deal. Then, several months ago, Apple did it with a laptop. This gained considerable more attention. A laptop without a swappable battery is kind of like a stove with fixed pans. It works, sure, but if you want to be a little more flexible, it’s not going to work. Well, Apple did it again. They went a size smaller to the 15″ MacBook Pro and took away our battery swappability.

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They’re faster and better and all that. It’s trading out it’s ExpressCard slot for an SD slot, which IMO is a big improvement. I’ve never heard of anyone using the ExpressCard slot. The battery in the beast is supposed to last for 1000 charge cycles and 7 hours or so for 5 years. I know there are lots of variables, but 1000/5 years = 200 cycles/year != 365 days. I know that most don’t completely discharge in a day, but 165 days is a pretty big gap. I’ll take Apple’s word on it, but I’ll bet it’ll be more like 3 years when people start complaining about battery issues. Prices dropped universally on the notebook line, so kudos there Apple.

Snow Leopard

Apple’s always announced OS X releases with “Including x new features” where x was equal to some very high number. It was a marketing technique, and many of those features weren’t features that everyday users would use. Additionally, in internet forums jokes would be exchaged about Apple having removed “the debug code” and that the OS felt “snappier”. This was bourne out of early users using the OS X beta, 10.1 and 10.2. However, this time around, it looks like Apple’s actually done it.

leopard_boxMac OS X 10.6, Snow Leopard is not a standard OS release. From the info available on their website, Snow Leopard is a lot of time and energy put into optimizing the OS, and making it work better. Instead of making new features, Snow Leopard makes the old ones better. It is going to be a major update to the Finder, which has been in desperate need of updating for many years (it was a port from the old generation system-7 Finder, that’s 20 years…), updates to 64bit architecture, new version Quicktime, I’m looking forward to it. Best of all I think, this isn’t the regular update. It weighs in at a mere $29… $100 less than previous point one updates.

All-in-all, very good show. We usually don’t get so much new stuff at the WWDC, but I suspect this will be a trend as it’s easier to do than doing random special events. Apple did a good job here. I hope that we’ll get to see Jobs return soon and I hope that Apple will continue to change and grow in the spirit of competition.

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