My name is Cédric Bozzi. I make websites and apps, and this is my blog dedicated to technology: here you’ll find news, opinions and reviews, all written by a Mac-head who tends to have definite opinions about stuff.
Just finished watching the video on iTunes and, yeah, I’m bored out of my skull — and thankfully I wasn’t locked up in a theater, and I wasn’t even following it live with anticipation, knowing full how uneventful it had been.
You’ve got to wonder what the hell they were thinking when they planned the SDK part of the keynote: the demonstration of Interface Builder makes sense since this is a developers conference, but six hours of mostly boring third-party app demos? Really?
About development: from the way Interface Builder works, it looks like it would be rather trivial for existing apps to run on slightly bigger screens. And notice how the very simple example they demonstrated was able to change orientation when you tilted the phone? Come on, don’t tell me Mobile Mail still won’t do it in July.
The Push Notification Service, letting apps push icon badges or sound effects to the user to notify them of new content, is a pretty clever way to go around the limitation of not having background applications, but it’s got a huge drawback: push only works if the server is willing to implement the functionality. Maybe AOL and Google will provide clients with push updates, but MSN isn’t, and you will never have an Adium-like multi-protocol client notifying you of new messages (unless the developers decide to provide intermediary servers of their own, and sell the iPhone client to pay for those). Same thing for Twitterific: unless Iconfactory dedicates a bunch of servers to storing your login credentials in the cloud and updating your timeline, only a first-party Twitter client will be able to push messages to your iPhone.
I wonder why Electronic Arts wasn’t there this time; the other games were okay, but kind of a letdown in my opinion — not as pretty as the best PSP games, and in some cases clearly demonstrating the limits of a button-less control scheme (forget about action games, and I say driving games will quickly get bothersome). Typepad is nice, because it’s simple; there’s no need whatsoever for an eBay app, and the Associated Press app was lame. Band looks very cool (I understand that it already exists for jailbroken phones but, hey, now you’ll get to pay for it), and what’s nice about the Loopt geolocation is what it prefigures of forthcoming Google and/or Facebook applications.
And, amidst the hundreds of demonstrated apps, no sign of an IM client (although they were mentioned in the Push Notification Service introduction), and no new apps at all from Apple, whether free or on the App Store — where’s my Remote Desktop client? As far as the core OS goes, the news was even more dire: no video recording or video chat, no MMS, no copy and paste (which I’m only listing because everybody else is, even though I understand Apple’s choice on that matter), but a scientific calculator (OMG) and contact search (OMG again). And it’s so frustrating to have confirmation that you’ll be able to draw Chinese characters with your finger, but not the regular alphabet. Come on now — just because the Newton did it doesn’t mean you should never do it again.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year and a half since the introduction of the iPhone OS, and Apple has almost been sitting on its hands all this time — they’ve been working a lot behind the scenes, obviously, to implement the SDK (and finalize what was essentially released as a beta OS), but there’s hardly been anything new on the interface front. Meanwhile, Google’s Android has gone from “better than Windows Mobile” to “arguably better than iPhone” in the last three months, and there’s no telling how good their final product will be. I’m not quite regretting I chose the iPhone yet, but I’m definitely having second thoughs about it today.
Well, I’m kind of having second thoughts about all of Apple now, but the difference is that, as listless as the Mac division might have gotten (and it all boils down to Apple spreading themselves too thin, doesn’t it?), there’s no viable competitor to Mac OS — but there might soon be one to the iPhone.
Just like the 2.0 OS (and I’m separating iPhone 3G from the software side because the new OS will be available to everyone for free), a lot of stuff people were expecting still isn’t there. No front-facing camera for video calls, no 32GB model (yet)… isn’t it a pretty boring hardware update?
So it gets faster with 3G, of course; and it has GPS, which is appallingly underutilized by the Maps application (look at the Android demo from a week ago to see what can be done — Apple’s application doesn’t even tell you which direction you’re facing! Please don’t tell me there can be GPS in the iPhone but no compass?). Ah, and the headphone jack is flush with the phone’s body; was I really the only one who liked Apple’s original choice and how it put less strain on the jack when the phone was stuck in your pants’ front pocket?
It’s funny that, just a day before the keynote, I read a very interesting and credible explanation of why the iPhone needed to have a metal back even though it forced an ugly black plastic butt on the designers: because the metal plate was used as a heatsink. Guess the new chipset doesn’t get as hot anymore. Which would be consistent with the improved battery life.
So am I going to upgrade? Hard to tell, and it depends on the price, obviously — but seeing as how AT&T’s subscription will apparently be $10 more a month, with no revenue sharing with Apple, I’m thinking telcos will have every incentive to make their customers an offer they can’t refuse; chances are that would give them an opportunity to upgrade existing contracts to the new, more profitable clauses.
The “Exchange for the rest of us” tagline scares me. A lot. Have they actually licensed all of Exchange Server? Is that what it’s come to — in 2008, Apple moving all its software and server platforms to Microsoft Exchange?
The only thing that could really give long-time users faith in Mobile Me would have been the long-rumored (or, more accurately, long-wishful-thought) partnership with Google. But, with the latest Android demos, I wondered if the relationship between Google and Apple would change, and I say that it has: there’s no new software joint venture on the iPhone; the addition of GPS to the hardware platform only warrants the most minor update to the Maps application; and Apple pretends to go after Google Mail and Calendar with Mobile Me.
By the way — that’s a stupid, ridiculous name.
OS X Snow Leopard:
Of all the week-old rumors that have come true yesterday (and this had to be the most thoroughly leaked Steve Jobs keynote ever), this is the one that still baffles me most. The name is stupid, the idea is stupid — people were already complaining that Leopard didn’t bring enough new features, and they’re going to come out with a new release that doesn’t bring any? Oh, yeah, there’s QuickTime X, that’s huge (and it’s so totally part of the OS, and won’t be available for Leopard — or Windows, for that matter). And Exchange. And whatever.
And the information page doesn’t list hardware requirements, even though the update is scheduled for next year so they’re probably pretty much set in stone by now, so you can assume that it actually does drop PowerPC compatibility. (Which might have been revealed, under NDA, to WWDC attendees.)
I would have hoped that they were planning to include multitouch functionality to the OS, and that would explain why they’re not talking about the new features yet, but if they did I don’t expect they would have chosen such a derivative code name.
Damn, this was such a depressing, hopeless keynote. Ah, screw this, I’m even too demotivated to write the French translation.