WWDC 2009 Keynote Thoughts

Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference starts today, and of course the keynote is the big deal the world watches.

I’ve attended WWDC many times in the past, but I intentionally skipped it this year. Saving the company a little money, WWDC has turned into an iPhone luv-fest, the quality of the conference has gone down over the years (yes, I’m an old-timer), it’s packed, the fan-boys are in way too much effect here… it’s just not worth it. I mean, people were lining up outside the convention center at 4:30 AM to be “first in line” for the keynote. Sheesh! I’d rather spend the week being productive and working. Any of the few sessions that’d be worth attending I can catch videos of later.

Oh well, so what came out of the keynote.

  • Updated the entire portable/notebook line. That’s good stuff and looks like they’re moving the whole line towards their new form factor. Good deal. I’d love to buy a new one to get that sort of new battery life.
  • Simple Snow Leopard improvements, like Exposé in the Dock, faster install and recovery of disk space is good. Enhanced “previewing” support directly in the Finder. They are small things, but the devil is always in the details.
  • Chinese input via drawing on the trackpad? That’s interesting. I need to check on how that works and if it works for other “symbolic” languages such as Japanese, Korean, etc..
  • I like Safari 4’s “crash resistance” setup, because without question the highest crashing thing on my Mac is the Flash plugin.
  • That QuickTime has finally become “X” and gotten the much overdue overhaul is great.
  • Grand Central, OpenCL, 64-bit hardware and the OS fully committed to 64-bit, multiple core CPU’s and wicked powerful GPUs, just awesome stuff for a geek like me.
  • While I think MS Exchange is a huge steaming turd, I do know how many organizations are based upon it for all of their electronic communication and organizational needs. So that Apple is embracing this and putting Exchange support directly into the OS is good, both for Apple and for Microsoft.
  • Overall I’m liking that Snow Leopard is going to be what they said it was going to be: refinement. Leopard really brings about a maturing Mac OS X in terms of features and user experience, so now you need to stop adding on features and making the features that you have really solid and stable and refined. Snow Leopard is doing that in a big way. Thing is, as a geek I know it’s good and will move to it. But from the early days of Snow Leopard (as a developer, I’ve had access) I was always curious how Apple was going to make this appeal and be marketed towards consumers because the non-geeks well… I don’t know how it will appeal to them to plunk down the money for the OS upgrade that does a lot of awesome stuff under the hood which then enables us developers to do awesome stuff…. but that doesn’t equate to simple whiz-bang features that you can list on a box or in an advertisement. What’s there to really entice the consumer? 
    • Now I know. Pricing it at $29, or $49 for a family pack. Smart move on Apple’s part. They know there aren’t any whiz-bang flashy features to really sell to consumers, but make it a cheap upgrade that gets you lots of things towards the future. It mainly helps developers out, so now we can write software that use the new technology, the $29 OS upgrade price is a negligent barrier then for people to upgrade the OS to use our softwares. This is all good stuff. Glad Apple did this.
  • Snow Leopard will be available in September.
  • iPhone. Cut/Copy/Paste/Undo. Gosh, such essential parts… about time they’re here. Landscape mode all around, good. Spotlight, neat. Of course more iTunes/Store integration, which is great for them and AT&T.
  • “Tethering”. Nice. But AT&T won’t support it and who is the iPhone carrier? Sheesh. 
  • “Find My iPhone”, only through MobileMe. Way to drum up business! 🙂  I actually think this is pretty cool, but on the surface appears ripe for abuse or other evil things, so hopefully they thought about that (likely so) and it’s a fairly controlled and unabusable experience. But yeah, this is cool.
  • P2P support is good, gamers will like that. They’ll also like the in-app purchasing ability. Hardware accessory support is very good.
  • Push notification. ’bout time.
  • Other little iPhone OS 3.0 things that are good, especially the expanded language support. It’s nice to see the OS coming along, maturing, catching-up.
    • Available June 17.
  • OO… TomTom for iPhone.
  • But 8 iPhone demos. Ugh. I know Apple wants to trot out a lot of people and cool things, but when you’re at the show, sitting in cramped quarters (the chairs are all clamped together, they’re barely wide enough for a child to sit in, then consider most geeks aren’t exactly svelte and it makes for a very uncomfortable 2 hours), man… this is painful. And I’m not there and it’s painful, but from dealing with it in the past I know the pain.
  • iPhone 3GS. Faster, better camera, video, digital compass, voice control, encryption and data wiping. Awesome.
    • $299 for the biggest (32GB) version. Nice.
    • Also, the existing 3G iPhone (8GB) for $99.
    • Available when? Depends: 3G today, 3GS June 19. 
  • There was no “one more thing”, and for that I’m glad. While it was a cute thing in its day, I’m glad it went away. People got way too hyped up and it got ridiculous. Fanboys get all excited prior to the show and work up expectations that there’s no way Apple can live up to, then people moan and grow because their unrealistic expectations weren’t exceeded. So I’m glad they’re doing away with it. In the end, I think the keynote offered some great stuff and really showed where Apple is going. They are focusing on making the OS very solid towards the future. They are making their hardware platforms grow and improve, and working to make both the hardware and the OS work very well together (one of Apple’s strengths since they sell them both… it’s part of what makes a Mac a Mac, vs. using Windows atop any old hardware or using any old hardware with whatever OS). Plus it’s evident iPhone is #1 at Apple, because you know the revenue streams are ridiculous here. Many of the new things demoed during the keynote rang of $$$ for them, carriers, and developers.

While I was watching various live webcast coverages, when Bertrand Serlet was up I found myself reciting all of his quotes with his accent.  Then Scott Forstall came up for iPhone stuff and gosh, I remember when Scott was just a low-level guy at Apple; it’s really neat to see how every year or two he’s climbed further up the ladder there at Apple. That’s quite awesome for him. Then while watching the keynote, near the end, Wife IM’d me and said “one more thing”… Wife doesn’t understand what “one more thing” means in the context of an Apple keynote, it was just a funny coincidence. All this stuff? It was just like I was there, but with a better seat. 🙂

I will say, this is one thing tough about my current job. I have to ship product that works for the existing users, so I often end up being behind the curve. All these new things are great, but I still have to support Tiger users (Mac OS X 10.4). I don’t get to really take advantage of new things for quite some time. Frustrating, but I can see what I can look forward to.

That said, one thing people find hard to believe about me is that while I’ve been an Apple user since I was a kid and have spent a good portion of my life developing software for the Mac, I don’t own an iPod or an iPhone and never have. Main reason? I don’t have a need. But the iPhone has been full of want, and that iPhone 3GS seems like maybe a good time and place to start. In fact, maybe a 3G for Wife and a 3GS for me (Wife isn’t as techno geek).

9 thoughts on “WWDC 2009 Keynote Thoughts

  1. I wonder if Snow Leopard server will have a similar upgrade price?

    I like that it’s better, but I don’t want to have pay $400 for it.

    • Good question.

      I went looking on Apple’s website.

      http://www.apple.com/server/macosx/

      The main Snow Leopard page is updated to say “$29” but the above “Snow Leopard Server” page has no mention of price. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was more than $29 for the server upgrade, but hopefully they’ll take a similar strategy and make it just a small upgrade price (e.g. $49 or even $100 given it’s a server product) and not the same “full price” that Leopard itself was.

  2. Interesting post John. Especially on your feelings about WWDC. I know you have been to a number of WWDC conferences, but for a relatively newbie Mac guy like me (Switcher 2006), I still find it an amazing conference compared to the Microsoft conferences. It has a lot more energy and I find myself wanting to go to multiple sessions at the same time period. At MS conferences it generally is a big snore fest. Who wants to go to multiple Sharepoint and SQL Server enterprise sessions? Blech. UI programming is also not explained in the same way at MS conferences too. It is so clinical.

    Maybe next year you will want to come to the show… I say that for purely selfish social reasons. 🙂

    • Oh yeah, I made it clear to the boss-man that this year I was skipping it mainly to save the company some money but I will be going next year. Of course, we’ll see what actually happens a year from now.

      For me, WWDC is mostly a social affair now. Good to see people, eat good food (well, not the conference catering). And yeah, a little conferencing now and again.

      Still, it’s not like the good old days. Now get off my lawn! 😉

      • LOL… I can only imagine seeing things from years ago and compared to now it is a lot different. Everyone I talk to keeps on lamenting about the year they gave everyone a free iSight. In some ways I am glad I am a newbie to the platform.

        Speaking of the food, I am not sure if you talked with Stu, but I guess Fournou’s Oven changed from an intimate friendly restaurant to this crappy place:

        http://aureasf.com/aurea/

        It got really bad reviews on Zagat and other places with people asking why they changed Fournou’s. Kind of a bummer.

        • Oh man, the swag in the past was great. There was the iSight, the leather jacket, the real old days you got all sorts of 3rd party swag in the conference bag. I mean, there was lots of great stuff. Now you get a bag and a shirt. Oooo.

          And yes, I heard about The Oven. Travesty.

          Gotta go back to that Italian place… Little Joes? I don’t remember where it was, ask Mitch.

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