There has been a lot of complaining about the lack of new features in The WWDC keynote yesterday. I guess Apple geeks get very excited at the prospect of a new OS. I know I was queueing with everybody else for the Tiger launch.
But there are a few things which went unmentioned yesterday, a few reasons to get more excited and a few reasons we didn’t see anything really big.
First off, the ‘lack’ of, well, cool new stuff. This is the WWDC after all, so the only things that were previewed are those things the developers need to have great apps ready for the Spring. Sure, there was some flash and some fireworks, but what gets a lonely programmer (and ravenous press) fired up like little taste of “Superfluous Visual Extras”?
New iChat eye-candy shows off some of stuff. It shows how Core Animation can be put to use, and also how this stuff can be put to use in an enterprise environment. Remote Keynotes? Awesome. Not for me, but if you hook a Mac up to a projector you can pretty much beam in a presentation from anywhere. And it’s 2-way. That’s big stuff for office types. Apple are chasing the business market now.
What we saw today is a preview of the new under-the-hood stuff coming in Leopard: Core Animation, system wide integrations of ToDo lists, possibly revolutionary system wide backup (Time machine will be useless unless it works with ALL apps. All, not just most), Virtual workspaces, and what most people seem to be missing, 3D interfaces.
Yup. 3D interfaces. Take another look at Time Machine. You have a 3D bar there at the bottom of the screen, and a couple of arrows on the z-axis (pointing in and out of the screen)
I think the reason for such over the top visuals (drifting star field anyone) is to make the devs realize what they can do with the new Core Animation tool. Sure, this stuff could be horrible, but you can be that the Human Interface Guidelines will have a big new section on this stuff.
For an example of a 3d interface done (very) right, take a look at CoverFlow.
The picture explains it best:
This app has been in beta since forever, but with Core Animation, it looks like Jonathan del Strother, the developer, will be able to whip up a feature enhanced version in a few minutes.
Probably the most disappointment came from the lack of a new Finder.
The Finder, along with the other Apple applications, won’t be shown until at least January Macworld. These are things that a) are probably nowhere near finished (we’re at least 6 months away from a release) and b) irrelevant to the developers. And importantly c) of interest to Microsoft.
I really think what we have seen is a taster of the new nuts and bolts. The UI and app innovations will show up much nearer release. Really, guys. Apart from a few new Dock and Toolbar icons, this looks exactly the same as Tiger.
Think about it. The stuff we didn’t get to see is likely what will be changing the most. Why laugh at MS’s attempt at a Spotlight ripoff and not show anything?
Now. A few cool features you might have missed:
iChat. Remote Desktops. In 3D. Now we can troubleshoot our family and friends right over iChat. Again, the picture says it best.
Also tabbed chats, and multiple logins.
iCal: shared calendars. You publish it and other people can change it. iCal Server, which will let you book conference rooms (!)
Mail: RSS support. Yes. You heard right.
So finally, this show was for the Developers. But some of them suffered. There’s always the chance of having your great software product assimilated.
It happened to Konfabulator (although they did fine in the end at Yahoo), Watson (which was a shame, as Sherlock has all but died now), LiteSwitch.
But aften the Apple versions are not as fully featured, so there is still a (admittedly smaller) market for the original.
So what can we expect to see in trouble this time? Well, any backup applications.
• SuperDuper is a good example. They have had a version to roll back the system to a previous state available for years now.
• Adium is the king of chat clients for OS X. But it’s open source, so nobody will suffer except the users if it dies.
• Pulp Fiction. An RSS reader modeled on Mail.
• And any virtual desktop solutions. I think these will be the worst hit. The main problem with them is that they never seem to integrate quite right with the OS. But take a look anyway. We’ve got until the Spring! VirtueDesktops and You Control Desktops.