WWDC Keynote: A Late Bloomer

June 10, 2008  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

The WWDC keynote speech started pretty slowly. Most of the first hour was devoted to things that:

  1. Only a developer would care about (which makes sense consider the venue, but still); and
  2. We already knew

To be more precise, the first hour of the keynote was spent on iPhone 2.0, the upgrade to the software of the iPhone and iPod Touch. Some interesting third-party applications were previewed, but nothing show-stopping. We did learn that the iPhone will support the viewing of Microsoft Office documents. That’s about all I took away from the first hour as a business user.

The new product announcements arrived about an hour into the keynote. They went pretty much according to the script too. Let’s take a look:

3G iPhone

There were plenty of (often contradictory) rumors swirling about the 3G iPhone. So what does the new iPhone have?

  • 3G for faster downloads
  • GPS
  • More battery life
  • A thinner body
  • A lower price (16GB for $299, 8 GB for $199)

Apple has posted the full specifications for the new iPhone on its website. If you took all of the rumored improvements and new features (with one exception), you would basically have the 3G iPhone. The one thing missing was a video camera for video iChat, but that rumor didn’t have a lot of credibility behind it. The new iPhones are nice, but I am not overcome with jealousy and feelings of obsoleteness yet.


MobileMe replaces the venerable and much-maligned .Mac service. MobileMe brings with it new web applications called Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Gallery, and iDisk. Each does pretty much what you would expect based on the name. MobileMe also brings with it push email, contacts, and calendar to the iPhone. Apart from MobileMe, the only way to get the push experience on your iPhone is to use Microsoft Exchange. MobileMe brings push down into the realm of home users. I am hopeful that a future release of Mac OS X Server will allow for push service to iPhones without using either Microsoft Exchange or a me.com email address.

A handful of resourceful people were able to figure out most of this last week. But it’s still nice to get the official word from Apple and see the demo. The announcement wasn’t all happiness though. With the transition to MobileMe, Apple will be removing its iCard service and web access to Safari bookmarks. I did not use the bookmark feature, but I often used the .Mac iCards because I found them much nicer (read: less tacky) than many of the other services out there. At least I get to keep my mac.com email address.

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

Rumors of a new version of Mac OS X surfaced in the last few days before the keynote. Snow Leopard would mark a departure from Apple’s stated intention to move to a longer release cycle (early versions of Mac OS X were released on almost a yearly basis). Leopard was released last, suggesting that 10.6 would not arrive until late-2009 or early-2010. To my dismay, the keynote came and went without any mention of Snow Leopard. But my disappointment was short-lived. Soon after the keynote Apple confirmed Snow Leopard and released some basic information about this new version of Mac OS X. The press release was followed up with a full-blown preview page with, well, just about the same information (but prettier!).

The press release mentions two new features worth talking about. First, Snow Leopard will include Microsoft Exchange 2007 support in Mail, Address Book, and iCal. This probably shouldn’t be a surprise considering the forthcoming Exchange support in iPhone. But I was still surprised. Second, Safari will include the “fastest implementation of Javascript ever.” Apple may be referring to the recently-announced Squirrelfish Javascript engine for Safari. Javascript speed seems to be one of the new benchmarks by which browsers are judged (with good reason in the age of Web 2.0 applications). But the real reason to check is Squirrelfish is its really cool logo (which longtime readers should know is of major concern here at Apple Briefs).

Apple plans to release Snow Leopard in about a year (suggesting a later release date than the rumors had predicted).

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