My thoughts on the WWDC Keynote

So I’ve been catching some flack over my MeToday photo that, more or less, described my feelings towards the WWDC Keynote on Monday. Perhaps I’m overreacting, perhaps I’m being a little overly critical, or maybe I just needed more sleep, but the fact remains — I am not alone in my thinking that this latest Keynote wasn’t what we all thought it would be.

If you haven’t watched the Keynote, or weren’t fixated on the coverage during it, I suggest you watch it and then come back and read this post – because I’m not going to recap what Steve Jobs covered, but more cover what I think was sorely missing which lead to my disappointment. If you’d like my thoughts on what was announced, I suggest reading Michael Heilemann‘s “WWDC 07 fallout” post which nearly reiterates my thoughts on the what was announced during the Keynote.

That which went missing

The days leading up to any keynote by Apple’s CEO are always filled with rumors of new products or services that Apple will announce. These generally range from iPods that will do your laundry to cloaks that make you invisible like Harry Potter. Though Harry made an appearance in this keynote – no cloaks were added to the Apple Store. A lot of times this rumor-mongering builds up the expectation to such a level that, no matter what Apple introduces, those expectations are ultimately let down. However, I do not want anyone to believe that I “expected the unexpected” and was thus let down by the contents of the keynote. On the contrary, I think nearly everything that was mentioned in the keynote was, in a word, great — but I definitely feel a few things were missing from the keynote and that is why I reacted the way that I did.

Ok, so there was one rumor that, in the end, let me down. The iPhone SDK isn’t really an SDK at all – which only lets me down from a “user” perspective since my Cocoa-foo is lacking to say the least. No, I don’t want to build Cocoa apps for the iPhone – but I know a few developers who I would have loved to have the opportunity to do so. Yes, I like the fact that Apple is providing hooks into the iPhone’s core system via OS X services that can be “called” via the Web. Yes, I will build a few “iPhone applications” for my own personal use – but there is something I’m not happy about. Speed, responsiveness, and local caching on the iPhone will all become a factor with having 3rd party web apps be the only way that the iPhone can be developed for. Most of my time is spent near wifi (by necessity currently) but when I’m accessing the web over AT&T’s network I imagine that my mobile version of NetNewsWire is going to suck. Google Gears for iPhone plz?

Where was the latest version of iLife? While watching the keynote during MacWorld in January I was sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for Steve to announce iLife 07 and give a preview of the enhancements made to, what has become, my most used suite of applications on any platform. Nothing. Surely another opportunity to let us iLife-faithful know what is in store for the next versions of the applications wouldn’t slip by. Obviously, iLife 07 is destined to become Leopard-only (which I’m fine with) – and perhaps the keynote had a “bigger agenda” for this conference, but even announcing that an update is coming might have quenched my thirst.

One might argue that WWDC is not the platform for announcing consumer products but rather is focused on showing off features that developers would find most interesting and valuable. Good argument. But that doesn’t mean that Steve couldn’t show how iLife takes advantage of the new Core Animation API in Leopard to allow a much richer experience when sorting your photos in iPhoto, or how iMovie can burn HD DVDs (or something). Of course I could argue the point further that the new movie listing Dashboard widget being released in Leopard (oh thank God this was a top-ten feature of Leopard, gives me a lot of faith in the other 290 features) is much more a consumer product than a developer one.

I also wanted to see updates to .Mac since Steve Jobs mentioned at D5 All Things Digital that we should expect updates to this service soon. No, he didn’t say that they’d be announced at WWDC – but still. .Mac is falling behind and really needs a shot in the arm. I’ve only used 60 day trials of .Mac – but I did like being able to use it during those times. However, with free and better alternatives available – there is almost no reason to use .Mac besides greater system-level integration. I’d love to see a partnership between Google and Apple on integrating .Mac with Google’s offerings. Having close ties with Google Docs, Maps, Gmail, and several other Google services inside of Leopard – via .Mac somehow – would be great to see. Obviously it would save Apple the need to reinvent the wheel – and with Google’s open APIs it wouldn’t be that hard for Apple to put some really slick interfaces ontop of these great services (like they did for Maps on the iPhone). Perhaps this is wishful thinking since Apple makes a fair amount of cash from .Mac subscriptions – but I’d also love to see .Mac go free as another pull to switch to the Macintosh and have the best system level integration with web services on any operating system.

Something new! In January Steve mentioned that they had to keep wraps over a few of the Leopard features because they didn’t want Redmond’s photo copiers to start early. Fair enough. But he couldn’t have been talking about Stacks or the movie widget, was he? Obviously Time Machine and Core Animation are Leopard’s most notable features (from my perspective). I’m sure there are a ton of advancements under-the-hood being that Leopard has been in active development for 21 months! And maybe, just maybe, we won’t know of the best features until we install it – but I really thought Steven built-up the expectations there a bit and never really came through with anything bigger than what he had mentioned in January. This isn’t to say that I’m not just as excited to update my operating system as I was in January, just that I thought there was going to be “one more thing” worth noting about Leopard.

So to recap. I’m pretty happy with what was shown in the keynote. I’m just a little disappointed with what I thought was missing in it.