WWDC 2011 Thoughts

Well, if Ben Brooks can do it, so can I. In case you're not a technophile like I am, Apple kicked off this year's Worldwide Developers Conference with their usual keynote. This year's presentation was different, however, in that Apple made very clear that it was going to be entirely software-centric. And it was. The only hardware you saw or heard about was the iOS devices being used for the demos. As expected, the three things announced were Mac OS X Lion, iOS 5, and iCloud. Huge stuff if you're someone like me whose computing life lives and breathes Cupertino. I wanted to dedicate this post to sharing my thoughts on each of Apple's announcements. I'll go through each one in turn, but since there's so much to say and only so much I care to type, I'll try to highlight the important points. I get teased a lot for loving Apple so, but these products are so important (and so great) that I couldn't NOT pass up an opportunity to give my take. So... Lion. Lion is the next major release to Mac OS X (10.7 if you're keeping score). Apple first demoed Lion at their "Back to the Mac" event last October and been in beta ever since. The work Apple's put into engineering Lion has clearly been inspired by iOS. Things like Launchpad, Auto-Save, Full Screen Apps -- those are all concepts learned from iOS. I think it's a brilliant strategy to meld such ideas because there are a lot of iOS users out there, many of whom aren't Mac users. But if these people realize that the Mac (Lion) does a lot that iOS does, that might be just the thing to get them to switch. Of course, the counter argument to this is "Apple's dumbing-down the Mac", but if the iOS-ification means more Macs are sold, that means more money in Apple's already obscenely fat wallet. Definitely something that'll make Steve Jobs and Peter Oppenheimer proud. I think it's interesting that Apple went Mac App Store-only for purchase; I was speculating they'd offer a disced version at least for backup, if nothing else. But, as it is, Lion will be available next month as a 4GB download. Buy once and install it on all your personal Macs. (Love the blueish galaxy wallpaper. I'd like that for my iPhone/iPad too.) iOS 5. Lion was "old hat" in terms of what was shown off yesterday in that, again, everyone had seen previews of it. So, other than iCloud, nothing was more anticipated than iOS 5. And Apple didn't disappoint. iOS 5 looks absolutely fantastic. Every tech site and every tech blogger I follow has said Apple totally nailed it with this release. The biggest draws for me are Notifications Center, PC-Free, and the Camera updates. I -- and many, many others -- have been dying for Apple to improve the UI of iOS's notifications system. Notification Center looks awesome, and it actually makes the lock screen useful! PC-Free because I don't have to plug into iTunes to get set up, and I can actually get to the Camera app by tapping a button on the lock screen. Even better, it'll bypass the passcode I have set. No more lost photo ops! As for the other features, Twitter integration is nice, but it sure as hell won't keep me from using Tweetbot. Newsstand is nice too, but I don't read any magazines or newspapers. And iMessages....well, no one else I know has an iOS device. I'd love to drop my SMS (texting) plan for this. iOS 5 looks so great that I'm almost tempted to sign up for the iOS Developer Program to get my hands on the beta. But I won't, especially since my iPhone 4 is my primary device and you can't downgrade the OS. So I guess I'll have to suffer with the shitty status quo for the next few months. iCloud. Leading up to its unveiling, iCloud was the hot topic on every techie's blog, Twitter feed, and website. Well, now the world knows. And it just MobileMe a swift kick in the ass to the grave. Essentially, it replaces does what MobileMe does but does it better (and adds some new wrinkles). Apple's new vision is that instead of storing everything and the kitchen sink on your devices, you can offload the bloat to their shiny new server farm in North Carolina. Music, apps, photos, books, documents, and device settings are all kept in the big file cabinet in the sky and then pushed down to all your toys. As a MobileMe subscriber, I've been enjoying this for mail, contacts, and calendar. It's uber-convenient. Plus, now with the added features, I can buy Hell: The Sequel next week on my iPhone and have it automatically pushed to my iPad at no extra charge. No more headaches trying to keep everything in sync. Overall, I think iCloud trumps Amazon and Google's offerings not only because Apple inked deals with the labels for the music piece, but because iCloud is so comprehensive and effortless to use. The jury is (rightfully) still out on this, but Steve seems like he wasn't lying when he said they'd learned their lesson from MobileMe. Really looking forward to seeing this stuff. I think it'll be fantastic. Can't wait!