WWDC Thoughts

Steve Jobs, along with several other Apple executives, took the stage at WWDC last week and changed the game again. I have taken my sweet time to collect my thoughts on the announcements and here’s what I’ve got.



Lion



The upcoming update to Mac OS continues the trend of Snow Leopard—a lot of changes under the hood and a low price—but adds a ton of new UI and functionality as well.



I am very excited about the changes to Mail. Mail.app has stunk for years. True conversation views are long overdue. The improved search functionality looks very good, too, but not something I would generally need.



Mission Control and Launchpad look really interesting—useful even—but they are features that one probably has to get one’s hands on and use daily to really see much benefit. The Autosave, Resume and Versions features a likely to be very valuable but less glamorous functions plugging along in the background. The same could be said for the increased usage of Multitouch throughout the OS and Full-screen apps. But those of us who use iOS devices will find those features very useful right away. I am very excited to see programs like Pixelmator and Lightroom in an effortless full-screen mode1.



iCloud



The iCloud service is going to keep Apple’s customers within the Apple-verse for years to come. And including the iTunes Match just makes it that much easier to rely on iCloud. Steve is 100% right: iCloud becomes the hub and all of your devices, whether Mac OS or iOS, rely on the iCloud for some of their functionality. Post-PC era, indeed. Apple didn’t kill the PC, they made it play nice in our digital lives just like the iPhone and iPad.



I’ve already used the function in the iOS App Store to download some previously purchased apps. It works exactly as it should. And the simultaneous downloading of apps and music works flawlessly. They seem to have taken this implementation very seriously. This is no MobileMe.



iOS 5



I use my iPhone and iPad much more than my MacBook Pro. As such, I am most excited about the upcoming iOS 5. The new Android-like notifications system looks wonderfully powerful and—finally—unobtrusive and user-centered. Syncing over WiFi and over-the-air updates free us from the PC even more. With that, and the iCloud, one almost never needs to connect to the computer at all.



iMessage is going to be a very big deal. A quick look at my Messages app shows fifteen conversations. Ten of those conversations are with people who have iOS devices that will run iOS 5. We’re going to rely on cell carriers less and less for services like SMS.



The updates to Camera.app are exciting. Auto-exposure and Auto-focus lock, Volume Up as shutter, and Camera through Lock Screen all combine to make the iPhone a functional and serious camera. Finally ‘the best camera is the one that’s with you’ might actually start to be true.



Integrated Twitter is cool if not really necessary. It will be nice to be able to quickly share photos and links. Reminders seems like a really good solution for both lists and to-dos. I’m not sure whether Reminders can replace third-party apps like Remember the Milk—the one Erin and I use, due to easy syncing—but I’ll definitely give it a try.



Reader and Reading List in Safari will prove much more useful on iOS than on the Mac, I think. Bringing those features to iOS may kill the Readability bookmarklet and the Instapaper service, though. We’ll see how much functionality is in the Reading List. If all it does is save and sync urls then I’ll be sticking with Instapaper for some functions. To be determined2.



Questions



An excellent question was asked by my best bud, Brandon. What about two people, say husband and wife, who currently share an iTunes account so they have the same music? How will the iCloud work with this case? Do we all need separate iTunes accounts? If so can we share purchases between accounts?



My hope is that one will be able to configure different accounts on a single device. So one could have Mail.app check a Gmail account, iCloud sync to a single iTunes account, and maybe the ability to share Contacts and Calendars between accounts. I don’t know how—or if—this is going to work for households, but I think it would be a big mistake for Apple to not address this issue for what is I’m sure a large percentage of the user base. Hopefully once we get iOS 5 and see what’s what this will end up being a non-issue.



How will these announcements change what I do or how I do it? I can tell you right now that I’m going to start using iPhoto again if for no other reason than Photo Stream syncing right to my Mac. It could be a sort of Dropbox for photos.



I will almost definitely partake of some magazines via Newsstand. The only reason I don’t read magazines on my iPad now is the disjointed way they’re presented. A unified store and experience makes me much more likely to do so.








  1. Autosave will be a life-saver in those apps, as well. ↩



  2. I’ve thought a great deal about Instapaper and Reading List this week. The stand-alone app, folder organization, twitter/Facebook integration, etc., are features that tend to make me think that Instapaper will be just fine. In SAT allegory terms Reading List : Instapaper :: Safari RSS : Net News Wire. The same functionality only on the most cursory first glance.  ↩