Apple World Wide Developers Conference

I think yesterday’s announcements from the Apple WWDC covered much of the material that had been trailed or been wanted.

The announcements on OS X Lion had already been widely previewed by Apple.  I think the main revelation is that it will be coming in July (rather than later in the year) and will be under $30 rather than much more expensive.  The other surprise is that there is apparently going to be no DVD — it will be a download from the Mac App Store.   I feel from time to time that Apple doesn’t always appreciate that in many countries (including the US and Western Europe), broadband is not always as pervasive as  it is on the Apple campus.  A 4GB download (which I think is what is being described as its size) is a significant part of bandwidth allowance for many people in the UK (even on ADSL connections, 5GB, 10GB and 20GB caps are pretty common) and even “unlimited” may not mean much more, or may only apply to bandwidth used overnight.  There is also the problem of download speed — many people only get 2Mb/s or less (in fact when I’m in South Wales I get a lot less than 1Mb/s and would probably have to expect a download time of 9 or 10 hours).  Worse still, there are people who still are only able to get dial-up access.   I think this may also be a factor with iCloud as well.  I use DropBox and MobileMe syncing in many of the applications that I use, largely because I use multiple Mac computers (and used to use them from multiple locations), but I wouldn’t choose to keep all my music and media in the cloud because of the problems with accessing it.  OS X Lion will require a minimum Intel Core 2 Duo processor which cuts off those of us with older machines from the early days of the change from PowerPC to Intel that are only Intel Core Duo.   My MacBook should be able to run Lion but not my iMac, nor my MacMIni that can only run Leopard rather than Snow Leopard (although I should be able to run the latter if / when I crack open the case and upgrade the RAM).  Perhaps it is time for a new machine or two.

The updates in iOS 5 that are due out in the autumn look fairly compelling and include many of the things that folks have been asking for.  The new notifications system is overdue (and I suspect will lead to notifications being used a lot more).  The removal of the need for  a USB wired connection to a computer will mean that iDevices can become standalone devices and make it possible for some folks to just have an iPad rather than a computer.  Obviously this does rely on iCloud and decent bandwidth — although I note that they are going to move to delta updates which should improve things.  I’m not sure how successful the iMessaging service will be, particularly in countries where it would appear everyone just uses SMS.  iOS5 will apparently support the same iDevices as iOS4, so at least there isn’t another step of obsolescence there.

After the various attempts at cloud computing I hope that Apple have learnt enough to get things right this time.  I’ve had no particular problems with MobileMe (although explaining how the syncing works between iDevices and computers and MobileMe in calendars and the like has not been easy — although it is clearer with the new MobileMe calendar which was obviously a start of the transition).   It certainly is not a quick service (particularly here in Europe) — mail sometimes takes ages to load and the iDisk can also take several minutes to access.   I would feel happier if Apple had multiple data centres around the world as reliability has fallen short from time to time.  Subject to my concerns about bandwidth, I really hope that this effort succeeds.   The Music Matching (which allows material not bought from iTunes but imported in to one’s iTunes library to be matched with the corresponding iTunes media in the iCloud without uploading) could be a significant boon and advantage over other competing services, although I notice that although the Music Matching is available straightaway in the US, there is no date for the roll out elsewhere.  It will be interesting to see how the transition to the iCloud operates.   Those of us already with MobileMe get an automatic MobileMe extension to June 30th, 2012.  I noted that iCLoud will be free for Lion and iOS5 users which raises the question of what happens to folks who cannot upgrade to Lion or iOS5 or who have a mixture of devices some of which cannot be upgraded.   Do they effectively have to buy new hardware before June next year?

Overall, I think there are going to be some fun times ahead with Lion next month and then iOS5 after the summer (and possibly new hardware as well).

One Response to “Apple World Wide Developers Conference”

  1. Stephen Says:

    As an addenda to the above, another significant Lion addition is Versions – the ability to keep multiple versions of a document and go back to previous ones (a bit like Time Machine). Adding what might be almost a version control system in to the OS for everyday use would be really valuable – probably more valuable than many people realise.

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