Thoughts from WWDC 2011

I’m writing this as I travel home from WWDC, conscious of the fact I haven’t blogged much on the announcements, sorry about that!

There are several reasons for not blogging, but my main excuse is that attending the conference is slightly overwhelming, plus the fact that, other than the keynote, the rest of the conference is under NDA, so I can’t talk about it.

It’s now a couple of days later and I’m still trying to take it all in, as well as ponder on the implications.

Previous Predictions

I think I did OK on most of my predictions before the announcements, except perhaps for the voice recognition and Airport Express hardware. The Airport Express was just a rumour, but the voice recognition omission was a surprise. In retrospect, I’m imagining that the implementation of the next generation of voice recognition technology may be reliant on a new hardware platform, to take advantage of the increased performance of a dual processor iPhone. So we may have to wait until the new iPhone 5 before we see that.

So rather than go through all the announcements, of which there really were too many to cover in a single blogpost, I’ll just give you my overall impressions of the announcements.


As expected, nothing really new was announced. Some refinements to the gestures and and an overview of the main features.

Lion looks like it’s going to be the most user friendly OS ever:

Auto save and Versions remind me very much of the introduction of Time Machine, i.e features that no user should be without.

No saving of files, the ability to go back to multiple versions of all your documents and automatic backup, all baked into the operating system and at no additional cost.

Full screen mode for applications so no confusion of multiple windows (unless you want them) but yet an easy way to see all your applications and screens with a single gesture.

Easy application installation, direct from the Mac App Store, no downloads, no CDs or DVDs, no zip archives, no Disk Image Files. Just click on an icon, enter your account password, and watch the icon jump out of the Mac App Store and physically embed itself in the Launchpad. It shows you where it installs itself – sheer genius.

Who in their right mind would recommend anything other than a Mac and Lion to friends and family, especially if you’re the family IT support person!

And that’s before they told us about the iCloud features and iOS 5 integration!

The aggressive pricing of Lion ($29.99 and we’ve since found out £20.99) indicate that Apple want everyone to upgrade. If you have a suitable machine, there’s really no justification for not upgrading, unless you have specific apps that aren’t yet compatible. Not forgetting that the single price makes Lion available to every machine you have.

Outstanding value!

Installation of the OS via the Mac App Store is a no brainer and I’m surprised anyone thought it would be delivered any other way. Lion and all the developer updates have been delivered via the MAS. That’s not say there aren’t some questions remaining, but it’s really no surprise. I’m sure that by the time LIon is ready for launch, there will be documented, supported ways to copy the disk image between machines, as well as being able to create a bootable DVD or USB stick. If you really need to.

Overall, a very solid offering by Apple.


Wow! That’s a significant update! There are several components that are going to be huge.

No change to the overall UI or switching between apps. As I indicated in my previous post, I would have liked to have seen some changes but it’s not the way Apple roll I suppose. They’ve got 200 million iOS devices out there, so it was unlikely that they would make any major changes to the basic UI and operation.

The overhaul of Notifications was a given and they seem to have done a nice job. Very reminiscent of how Android handles notifications mind you, in fact, let’s just come out with it and say it’s something Apple have borrowed from Android. And they’ve finally made the lock screen useful.

I don’t think I’m breaking NDA if I say I took the plunge and installed iOS5 on my main iPhone 4 after a day or two, so many of my observations are based on actual usage.

Twitter integration was rumoured, but I don’t think anyone realised the extent to which it would be integrated. We’re talking deep system level integration with single sign on to Twitter from the OS itself. Just enter your Twitter account and password in settings, and that’s it. You can send photos, links from Safari and other actions from within the Apple apps themselves, as well as adding comments, attachments and location information. As far as third party apps are concerned, they’ll be able to use your Twitter credentials as held by the system, just a quick dialog for you to authorise the app, and that’s it. This has huge implications for all apps, as they can all now be Twitter enabled by the developers just adding a few lines of code.

It’s really unusual for Apple to integrate a third party service so deeply into the OS. And virtually no mention of Facebook.

iMessaging is another potentially huge application, brought in apparently without prior knowledge to the service carriers. It’s basically Apple’s own replacement for SMS and Blackberrys BBRM. What’s really interesting however, is that iMessaging is built into the existing Message app. Enter a contact and iMessage will go out to the network and see if your contact is another IOS user with iMessaging installed. If they have, the send button turns a different colour and the message will be an iMessage. If not, it will use SMS as normal.

I love the fact they have included delivery reports and even optional read reports. So now, messaging is available to anyone with an iPad or iPod touch. As I only really ever message family or friends who I know are on Apple devices, I doubt I’ll be using SMS much in the future. Pure speculation, but I wonder how long it will be before we see Twitter DMs being sent to your iMessage app?

Another huge announcement is PC Free. Apple have taken a fair bit of criticism since pronouncing that the iPad heralded the dawn of the Post PC era. How could this be, if the iPad needed a PC to both initialise and also keep up to date with software and media. All this is now swept aside with the availability of PC Free in iOS5 allowing iPhones and iPads to be setup and maintained without the need to hook it up to a PC. Absolutely huge!

Not only does this make the platform incredibly easy to operate, it also allows Apple to penetrate further into territories where PC ownership is very low – I couldn’t help noticing on the keynote slide that 70% of households in China did not have a PC. A significantly huge expansion of the the potential marketplace.

PC Free also heralds in another development we’ve been wanting forever – WiFi Syncing – no longer needing to tether your iOS device to backup and sync your media.

Airplay Mirroring from the iPad without a HDMI cable. Oh my! The whole gaming community just got a wake up call. Play 1080p games on your large screen TV via the Apple TV and use the iPad to control and/or display additional content. Potentially huge!

There’s a ton of other stuff in iOS5, all of which is described on the Apple site. It’s just a pity we have to wait until the autumn. Although nothing has been mentioned about the next iPhone, it’s likely that the release of iOS5 will actually coincide with the release of the next iPhone, if the rumours of a launch before Christmas are to be believed.


I finished off my previous “predictions” post with two possible outcomes of the keynote. One being a keynote that announced some cool new features or:

A keynote that announces a shift in the approach Apple are taking in converging and integrating the desktop and mobile platforms. Something that will take us into a more connected ecosystem with all our data accessible from any device in any location.

I think iCloud delivers on that particular statement, in spades!

The premise is that any data created by any App on any device, is pushed automatically to iCloud and then pushed to all your other devices. Create a Pages document on your iPad, and within a few seconds, it’s on your Mac, Create a Keynote presentation on your Mac and within a few seconds, it’s on your iPhone. Take a photo with your iPhone and within a few seconds, it’s on your Mac, hell, you can even access it from your Apple TV.

This is such a radical re-engineering of the ecosystem, it’s truly breathtaking in it’s scope, and speaks volumes of Apple’s confidence that it can deliver such a system.

Most striking in the keynote was the demotion of the Mac to just another device being serviced by the cloud. I feel this represents a sea change in Apples approach and does firmly push us into the Post PC era.

Not that there’s anything to worry about, for the short to medium term future for the Mac, it will still be with us for a while yet. However, Apple have bought into cloud strategy in a big way, bigger than a lot of us would even have thought possible.

As I pointed out with Lion, Apple are designing the whole ecosystem to be super easy and super user friendly. iCloud is the glue that will bind the devices together and deliver a user experience unparalleled, and I would think at this point, unachievable by any of its competitors.

The keynote downplayed the previous “issues” Apple has had with delivering cloud based infrastructure – in fact, they even made a joke about it. But this has to be viewed in the context of the recent successes Apple has had in cloud infrastructure – MobileMe has now settled down and at least the sync part is usable, but don’t forget the success and virtually faultless performance of Apple iTunes and App Stores. We’ll conveniently ignore iDisk performance.

I’m sure there will be hiccups on the way, but Apple switched on part of the iCloud infrastructure immediately following the Keynote, allowing the syncing of Music and App purchases to existing iOS devices.

Very impressive.

There are still questions from the keynote on how Lion will participate in iCloud – how will the file system change and what changes are required to third party applications to allow them to utilise iCloud? How will Applications share data?

All will be revealed in time, but Apple has really announced some major changes in a single keynote – no wonder the new iPhone didn’t get a look in.

Then there is the enhanced music services, with iTunes Match allowing you to access all your music (or would that be download all your music, as I don’t think there is a streaming component) from iCloud. No upload required for any music Apple identifies in your iTunes library, just access to high quality, DRM free versions. Anything it doesn’t recognise, you can upload. All for a single yearly fee.



Apple really hit it out of the park with this one! Just so much to take in. The next step will be to see just how well they can execute this complex rollout to over 200 million iOS devices and 50 million Macs.

If anyone can do it, Apple can.

WWDC 2011 Wishlist

I’ve been asked to put together some predictions for the WWDC keynote tomorrow, but that’s a mugs game! So instead, I thought I’d just document some things I like to see and OK, perhaps some minor predictions. Well you have to don’t you!

I think this year is unusual, as we both know more that we usually do (As Apple have already announced the three main topic areas), yet in two of those areas, we really know nothing at all.

The three main areas are Lion, iOS5 and iCloud.

Let’s deal with each one in isolation to begin with.


Apples new desktop OS is bringing some iOS features, back to the Mac.

Apple have already released several developer previews of Lion, described some of the main features in public and even have a separate page on the Apple website describing all of the new features. I doubt very much we’ll see any new major features (unless related to iCloud). In fact, Apple will probably cover some old ground again in the early part of the keynote, causing a bit of frustration. I think we’ll see them put some focus on AirDrop – the new feature that allows you to seamlessly transfer files to other Airdrop enabled machines – no setup required. I’m hoping that AirDrop will actually also be a component of iOS5, so we may see a demo of some file transfers from a Mac to an iOS device. What is definite though, is a release date for Lion to be announced. Probably a Gold Master released to the developers for final testing and an announcement of the final release date.

As an after thought, Speech Recognition might have a part to play in the Lion story.


Well they have kept this under wraps pretty well!

Some features likely to get mentioned:

  • Notifications – Every man and his dog are complaining about the sorry state of notifications so this is likely to get an overhaul.
  • Speech Recognition – With the acquisition of Siri and talks of a tie up with Nuance, using speech to control iOS may well figure highly.
  • UI – I do think that the iOS UI is due for a revamp. I’ve thought this since the iPad was launched. That great big screen with those tiny spaced out icons. Just doesn’t look right to me. Probably not going to happen as Apple don’t usually make sweeping UI changes.
  • Deep Twitter Integration – whatever that means. It really wouldn’t surprise me if Apple make a play for becoming more social by integrating Twitter at the system level. How this would work or play out, I’m not sure. I have a feeling that we won’t see Facebook integration after the Ping debacle. Ping should have been launched with FaceBook integration, and I’m sure this was in place until literally the last minute. I wonder if Apple have forgiven Facebook for pulling out or if they let them down in another way – payback time?
  • Enhancements for Developers – I’m sure there will be a host of changes to the SDK/Programming environment that allow developers to develop for multi processor and fast GPUs. The latest iPads already have dual processors and the next iPhone will also be multiprocessor – Apple need to give the developers the tools to create the next generation of apps.
  • Mapping and Navigation – Enhancements to all the services that link into location based services – possibly new mapping applications or even built in turn by turn navigation.

However, due to the secrecy of iOS5, expect the unexpected and you can’t go wrong!


Well if we thought iOS5 was clouded in secrecy, what to make of iCloud!

I think the music service component is a given. Music in your iTunes library will be scanned and if the tracks are identified, you’ll be able to stream those tracks to any of your authorised iOS devices or Macs. The question is will it be restricted only to music purchased via the iTunes store? Can’t see it myself, that’s never going to fly. The only option would be to charge a monthly subscription charge (perhaps not for a while) and have access to all the music in your Library via iCloud. Let’s face it, the majority of music in most iTunes libraries are legitimately ripped CD’s. I’m sure we’ll see some unique offerings in this space.

But what of other iCloud components?

The folks at Cupertino must be sick to death of people complaining about iDisk and why can’t they build something like DropBox. Tomorrow we’ll probably see how they respond.

Lots of rumours about new Airport Devices which communicate with the iCloud service to back up your local files to the iCloud to make them accessible from anywhere. Potential of having an always on Airport Extreme that communicates with iCloud and streams your iTunes library from iCloud direct to your Apple TV, without having to have your Mac switched on.

Plenty of scope for innovation in this area and we’ll just have to see what is announced. It could well be a staged announcement, with Apple just announcing some of the components tomorrow, we the full picture being revealed over the next 12 months.

One More Thing?

No hardware (except perhaps for the Airport devices). The keynote will be seriously jam packed with new stuff so I can’t see Apple doing anything frivolous for one more thing. However, what I would like to see, is how the Apple TV fits into the new ecosystem, and when Apple are going to open up the platform to allow third party apps to be developed for the Apple TV. This will happen, it’s just a matter of timing. Possibly not tomorrow, as we know Apple don’t like to dilute the message.

Overall Theme

It’s the first keynote where three major components have been announced simultaneously. This smacks to me of convergence, deep integration and connected thinking. The overall theme of the keynote may well be interoperability of the desktop and mobile platforms with iCloud as the glue that ties everything together.

The keynote has the potential of going two ways:

  1. A keynote that announces some cool new features for the Mac and the iPad/iPhone
  2. A keynote that announces a shift in the approach Apple are taking in converging and integrating the desktop and mobile platforms. Something that will take us into a more connected ecosystem with all our data accessible from any device in any location.

I hope it’s the latter, but we’ll know in less than 24 hours!