Thursday, June 12, 2008


OK, I finally managed to watch the keynote. Which keynote? Surly you are joking. The 2008 WWDC Keynote, of course.

Now, it's Thursday, and the keynote was Monday. That by itself should tell you a lot. Usually, I would try to find a way to watch a S. Jobs presentation as soon as it appeared on the Apple site. This time around, I felt no great longing to see the actual presentation. I could tell already, from the news trickling through the web, that I was going to be disappointed.

Don't get me wrong. The 3G iPhone is nice. GPS is nice. Better battery power is nice. And the new price is astounding. But, I don't think I'm going to run out and buy one. I love my iPhone, and I can't wait for the 2.0 update. I'm itching to develop my own apps for this platform. I might even buy a 3G phone for my wife. But, I don't think the changes are significant enough to warrant upgrading.

Of course, I might change my mind. Maybe a series of new, cool apps will require 3G or GPS, forcing me towards an upgrade. But, right now, I can wait.

And there are things that I'm waiting for. How long until Apple releases a 32 GB iPhone, or a 64 GB? Currently, my iTunes library sits at 27 GB. I'd definitely upgrade to a phone that could store all my media.

I'm also still waiting for Flash. Apple claims the iPhone provides real access to web pages. But, I'm sorry. Without Flash, its not a real browser. There are too many things I cannot access.

And there are the other dream features. The forward-facing video camera for mobile video conferencing. The auto-rotating marshmallow skewer and bacon stretcher. I'm looking for that unexpected Apple touch that places the new iPhones even further ahead of the competition.

Finally, I mentally place 3G and Blu-Ray in the same category. They're nice technologies, but I think they may be a little too late. I suspect on-demand, HD movie downloads will kill Blu-Ray before it ever becomes truly popular. Similarly, I think something (maybe WiMax, maybe a new technology using the soon-to-be-freed analog TV bands) will soon wipe 3G away. Of course, I'm probably dreaming of things 5 years in the future--so a 3G phone may still be a safe bet, assuming you're going to upgrade it in a few years anyway.

Next comes Mobile Me. A lot of people have raved about Mobile Me, claiming that it is much, much better than .mac. Again, there's noting wrong with it. Yes, the push email/calendar/contacts is nice. But, really. It's not a feature I need.

I don't need to receive my email instantaneously. If someone needs to contact me that desperately, they should call me. After all, it is a phone. And syncing my calendar and contacts once a day is fine. The web interfaces look cool, but I usually read my personal mail on my phone anyway, or on my home computer.

Now, if they gave my iPhone "Back To My Mac" capabilities, then we'd be talking about a technology I could get behind. Even if it just let me browse my home folder and open files remotely. The iPhone can already open Word, Excel and PDF files (not to mention a variety of media files). 2.0 will add support for PowerPoint and the whole iWork suite. I'd love to be able to browse through files on my hard drive at home, and open and view them remotely. Even better, let me email them from my iPhone, or let me copy them to a public .mac/Mobile Me folder. This would let me access my home files even when I'm trapped in a PC-only environment (like work).

Finally, there was an incredibly brief mention of Snow Leopard. Now, I can't say I'm excited about Snow Leopard, since we know next to nothing about it. However, I'm going to make a bold prediction here, based on rather sketchy evidence. First, I think the name is deliberately tied to Leopard. Snow Leopard may well be a variant on Leopard, not an entirely new OS. We've also heard that it won't contain any significantly new features--which would be appropriate for a variant.

Second, the marketing speak suspiciously refers to Snow Leopard as OS X, not Mac OS X. This may or may not be significant. Apple has already moved OS X away from the desktop with the iPhone OS. This could be a step in a similar direction. Or it might just be a marketing decision.

Finally, it is apparently Intel only and fully 64 bit. Here's the question no one has asked, does that mean it won't run on 32-bit intel macs? There are a number of those floating around. My MacBook Pro is one. Will I be cut out in the cold?

Or, is Snow Leopard an OS for an entirely new type of device? Something that can leverage the touch technologies pioneered in the iPhone? I'm not saying a tablet. I've been waiting for an Apple tablet so long now, I've basically given up hope. But, what about a laptop with a touch screen. Alternatively, Apple could be planning new hardware with a significant jump in the number of cores. Snow Leopard seems to emphasize parallel computing--it might be nice to have new hardware that could really take advantage of Grand Central.

The bottom line is, I don't think Snow Leopard is an OS for the computers we have today. I'm not sure what it runs on, but I hope it will be a nice surprise.

OK, back to the Keynote. While everything that Steve presented was good and interesting, nothing made me want to rip off my shirt and dance topless in the isles (and thank goodness for that!). I think Apple's moving in the right direction, but I can't help but be a little disappointed. Where are the surprises? The rumor sites scooped almost everything. Where's the "one more thing?"

Maybe I have set my sights too high, but I can't help but feel a little let down.