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WWDC Keynote 2011 - My thoughts

I’m not nuts enough to get up at 3am my time to follow the keynote live, and I’m still waiting for the downloadable version to be posted (the streaming version just doesn’t do it for me), so this is all just based on what I’ve read on the Apple site, and heard via twitter. Please correct me if my assumptions are totally wrong or were elaborated on in the keynote itself.

iOS 5

First up, it looks like an awesome update, I look forward to playing with it - just need to convince myself that I *need* to upgrade my devices to the beta.

Notifications

Possibly the most complained about aspect of iOS, its finally been given an overhaul - and its amazing just how similar it appear compared to some of the ‘fantasy’ and ‘jailbreak’ notification system that have appeared over the last couple of years.

The only bit I’m not entirely sold on, but will reserve full judgement until I’ve played with it myself, is the ‘swipe-down’ interaction to access the notifications screen. Now I’m not saying there is anything wrong with it, but I guess I just expected it to be in the form of another homescreen (or merged with the existing search screen) or as a standalone app. That said, showing the notifications on the lock-screen is great… now, can we get those widgets on there too?

iMessage

Its the iChat you have without having iChat. Guess I will no longer need Textie or PingChat. Can anyone give me a good explanation why iMessage and FaceTime couldn’t be combined into one app? After all they are both forms of messaging, aren’t they? Maybe to Apple saying “we have iMessage and FaceTime apps” just sounds better that “we have the iMessage app that can do FaceTime”. Doesn’t really worry me though.

Newsstand

I don’t really do a whole lot of ‘proper’ reading of any sort on my iPhone or iPad, sure I’ve downloaded a bunch of sample magazines to try out but nothing has reached out, grabbed me and said “you must buy me every month or kittens will die”.

Again, why does ‘Newsstand’ need to be its own special folder? Couldn’t it have been added as a third ‘shelf’ in iBooks? Is it simply because the ‘subscriptions’ you manage in the newsstand are actually just apps, and launching one app (a magazine) from within another app (iBooks) would be silly?

Reminders

I feel sorry for all the makers of good, simple to-do apps. There are several. There are also hundred of shit to-do apps, I don’t really feel sorry for them. Reminders looks nice and simple, which is all I’d want from a basic to-do app.

I saw a couple of people comment on Twitter saying that Reminders would ‘kill’ apps like Things, The Hit List etc. I don’t believe this for a second. Things and The Hit List are much more than just “to-do apps”. I can’t wait for The Hit List to come out. The location reminders that Apple has included in Reminders look kind of neat.

But Apple using the line “Say you need to remember to pick up milk during your next grocery trip.” on the iOS feature page is a fairly big kick in the guts for a certain, very popular, to-do app…

Twitter integration

I don’t really ‘share’ content from other places all that often - yet - maybe the deeper integration in iOS will change that, maybe it won’t. One question I do have though is whether or not the Twitter app is now installed as part of the core package. I suspect it isn’t based on the screenshots of the twitter settings page that show an ‘install’ button.

I wonder if this same level of Twitter integration will also come to the desktop in Lion?

Camera+, err, I mean Camera

The quick access to the camera from the lock screen is nice, but not overly secure is it? Can you accidentally hit the camera button and take pictures of the inside of your pocket? What about if you have a passcode set? Does it ask you for the code before you can take pictures? I’ll need to play with it before I can judge it appropriately.

The volume button as the shutter button. Gee, original idea there. Now lets hope they let other camera apps like Instagram and Camera+ to also make use of the button in this manner. Would be also super if we could specify our preferred ‘default’ camera app that would be activated by the lock screen button, at least until Apple steals the image filters (that make my crappy photos better) from Intagram.

Safari

Tabbed browsing on the iPad is welcome, but how many tabs can we have? Are we still limited to 9 like we were with the ‘old’ method?

Reader and Reading list aren’t really of much interest to me personally - I’ve had an instapaper account for months and I don’t think I’ve ever used it. Maybe the iCloud enabled Reading list will change that? But then again, Firefox is still my default desktop browser so I never see the Reading List when I’m sitting at my computer.

PC Free / Wi-fi sync

“With iOS 5, you no longer need a computer to own an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.” While this is great, and over-the-air syncing will be fantastic, how many iDevice owners aren’t going to have a computer? More to the point, who is going to have a wi-fi network for their new iDevice to connect to if they don’t have a computer?

Everything else…

I hadn’t even noticed that the iOS Mail app didn’t have text formatting options until Apple pointed out that they are new features in iOS 5. This tells me that I don’t need them.

The multitasking gestures will probably feel ultra-futuristic when using them but will they actually be *needed*, I’m guessing I will still find myself hitting the home button more often that not - if only out of habit.

The split keyboard, another ‘fantasy’ idea that some clever person came up with at least a year ago that as been “adopted” by Apple, no doubt Microsoft will claim that Apple stole it from Windows 8…

OS X Lion

Having only upgraded to Snow Leopard about two months ago (yes, I slow) I don’t feel that I should be ready to upgrade again next month. But the truth is I am ready, and I want Lion now.

Availability

So Lion is only going to be available via the Mac App Store. Nothing surprising about it being available via the Mac App Store, but *only*, really? Since the Mac App Store is Snow Leopard only, how does someone using Leopard (or older) upgrade to Lion? Or is it just that they can’t? Presumably this means they will have to continue producing physical Snow Leopard discs at least for a while.

Multi-touch gestures

I knew there was a reason I ordered a magic trackpad with my new iMac, now I just need to fit it into my ‘working style’.

Full-screen apps

Yeah, Windows has kind of had full-screen apps “forever”, and when I switched to a Mac five years ago I missed that. For about a week.

There are still a few cases where I’d really like ‘proper’ full-screen app goodness, in things like Fireworks or Illustrator (the current full-screen modes blow), but given that they are both Adobe products I guess thats never going to happen.

Mission Control

Sounds cool, has an even cooler sounding name. I’m looking forward to playing with it once Lion is released, I suspect though that it will still take a while before I stop using command-tab to switch between my apps though.

Launchpad

iPadifying your applications folder. I have no problem with this, even though I really only ever launch apps from my dock or via spotlight search.

Resume

Apps closing and reopening right where you left off? Cool. But what apps are going to support this? Will it only be Apple apps, or those that are developed to support it? Again I’ll use the Adobe example, this resume feature would be awesome, but if its something we have to wait for Adobe to implement then it could be a long wait.

AirDrop

Just a pretty new name (and a prettier new icon - that isn’t brushed metal), and simplified process for something we’ve been able to do for years, right?

Mail / Address Book / iCal

More iPadification, ok with me, although I actually (mostly) like the current version of Mail, and barely use Address Book or iCal.

iCloud

FREE. For 5GB of storage. I couldn’t find anything about extra storage being available for a price, maybe that info will come at a later date. Kind in mind though that purchased music, apps and books, plus the last 1000 images in your photo stream don’t count towards that 5GB.

Looks like all the core iOS apps will be be iCloud-ready in iOS 5, and hopefully plenty of third-party developers are able to make use of it as well meaning we can get useful syncing capabilities in a whole bunch of apps without those individual developers needing to set up their own syncing services.

iTunes match

So *any and all* music that you have that wasn’t purchased via iTunes can be added to iCloud for just $25 a year? Really? Wow. They say the ‘matched’ music will also play at iTunes Plus quality even if your copy wasn’t… can we also download the iTune plus quality version? I suspect I know the answer to that.

One more thing.

Whats with all the brushed metal icons? Maybe if the radial gradient weren’t so ‘harsh’ it wouldn’t bother me as much. Maybe they just done it so Dribbble users have something to endlessly redesign for the next couple of weeks.

I’d much rather they made the desktop icons follow the same style as the iOS icons.

One more one more thing

Is it true that there was no “one more thing” at the end of the keynote? How odd. Also a little surprised that there were no hardware announcements at all, not even the rumoured iPhone 4S. Yes, I’m aware that WWDC is not about the hardware, but I’d just gotten used to some cool new device being shown off.