What developers think of the WWDC 2011 keynote

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On Monday, WWDC 2011 revealed a number of enhancements to OS X, iOS and iCloud. I polled several independent developers, ranging from longtime Mac mainstays, one-man shops and large companies, that cover both Mac and iOS development to get their reactions to the many changes.

What was your favorite announcement?

Rich Siegel, founder and CEO of Bare Bones Software Inc., which makes Yojimbo: The amount of user-facing work that’s going into Lion and iOS 5 is truly impressive, especially as it reflects an enormous amount of infrastructure work.

Gedeon Maheux, Principal / Designer at The Iconfactory, which makes Twitterific: We’re most excited about all of the potential in iOS 5, such as Apple’s new iCloud API. Hopefully synching Twitter timeline positions across multiple copies of Twitterrific will work with relatively little effort.

Ken Case, CEO of The Omni Group: I’m really looking forward to updating our document-based apps (OmniOutliner, OmniGraffle . . . ) to leverage iCloud’s document syncing.

David Frampton, founder of Majic Jungle Software, which makes Chopper and Chopper 2: AirPlay Mirroring. I wasn’t expecting that, as it seems a pretty amazing technical achievement. Not sure on the details yet, but it could be a big deal for gaming.

Layton Duncan, founder of Polar Bear Farm, which makes Air Forms: By far iCloud, specifically Photo Stream. Photos across multiple devices, iPhone, laptop and desktop have been a real pain point for a while. It’s nice to have something to now sync consistently and transparently across all my devices.

What were you not expecting to see?

Maheux: Personally I’m excited about iMessage as a potential replacement for the aging application iChat and the newly redesigned notification system in iOS.

Case: Reminders in iOS 5 looks good! Glad to see Apple providing it as important baseline functionality (and challenging us to take things further).

Siegel: When they announced iTunes music storage, my immediate question was, “But what about music that I *didn’t* buy from iTunes?” The answer to that comes as iTunes Match, which was a pleasant surprise for me.

What was the most overdue announcement?

Frampton: Fixing the notification system. It’s been pretty bad, so it’s great to see that they’ve made some major improvements.

Duncan: Absolutely the notifications overhaul. They have been terrible in iOS for a long time. Now it looks like they finally have a scalable solution.

What new feature is going to have the biggest long-term impact?

Duncan: To me it’s the iCloud document syncing. It’s a feature that in the future you’ll not necessarily notice day-to-day because it just happens, but won’t be able to live without.

Siegel: It’s really impossible to fully gauge the developer impact just yet, but these user-facing features are exciting developments, and they’re backed by a huge number of new APIs. As the week goes on I expect to have a better sense of how we can employ the internal developents to make better software.

Frampton: iCloud is a big deal. It takes a bunch of totally separate devices and unifies them, which I think will permanently change the way we view and use them.

Anything that worries you?

Frampton: Apple announced a number of new apps and features that totally obsolete many third-party apps. This has caught a number of developers off guard, and there is no guarantee they won’t obsolete other apps and business models in the future. In fact, they certainly will.

Duncan: There were some concerns with new features, specifically the Reminders app, which seems to directly compete with developers, with no real reason, given it’s a feature that doesn’t need to be deeply integrated into the OS. Secondly, the use of the volume button as a camera button, given the history of that feature in Tap Tap Tap’s Camera+ app [it was introduced to Camera+ as a hidden feature, which prompted Apple to pull the app from the App Store for many months].

Siegel: Nah. :-)

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