Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Thoughts from the WWDC 2011 Keynote

Around the world, lakes drained and mountains cracked open to reveal super-weapons These weapons were crafted over the past several years in secret by a sect of silent monks in black jump suits. Yesterday morning's Stevenote launched missiles first at Facebook before targeting Amazon and Google. Meanwhile, the world's phone carriers watched clone armies advance dangerously close to their revenue stream.

Social = Twitter

The strike against Facebook was one of omission. The only social network Apple deemed worthy of a Steve mention was Twitter. And so Twitter is now granted OS level integration with iOS, a demigod in the Apple pantheon. iPhone contacts will now have twitter handles in the address book, and photos pulled from Twitter. Want to share media? Now twitter is an option. Facebook? Nope.

Apple Invented

Google took one to the face too. The new notification system in iOS looks suspiciously like it was borrowed from Android, right down to the gesture used to summon it. Want to share and store documents? Apple just invented that too, unless you've heard of Google docs.

Oh, Apple also had some news for those of us still uploading their tunes to Amazon or Google's cloud music services. If you just let Apple scan your library, they might already have your entire library in the cloud just waiting for you. You get your music in your iCloud almost instantly. Kapow! All those cloud music startups? Kapow!

What is a Plan?

What about the phone carriers? Uh-oh, Apple is complying with their wish to limit data use a little too enthusiastically. Apple introduced a mobile messaging service that doesn't use SMS. In addition, iCloud sounds like it (or big parts of it) will only work over wifi. These are two more reasons that a data only contract might be more attractive than a voice + data plan. Some other reasons you might prefer a mobile access point to a device specific plan:

  • If you're like me, you have 5 devices: a laptop, iPad, iPod Touch, Android Phone, Galaxy Tab 10.1. Why pay for multiple plans?
  • Skype, Facetime, Google Voice, Google Talk, Grouped{in}, Beluga, and so on. All of them replace expensive carrier features with cheap or free internet equivalent ones.
  • Data is a commodity. SMS messages and voice minutes are billed at a premium even though they are both just data streams. 
  • You can get a faster 4G mobile access point.
Final Thoughts

One gets the feeling that the Apple keynote was silently making fun of Google's crosswise product strategies.

Both Apple and Google seem to have two big consumer-facing software products. Apple has OS X and iOS. Google has Android and Chrome. 

Apple somehow knows how to share innovations between its two products, efficiently using the same resources to improve both products simultaneously.

Google I/O, as awesome as it was, gave me the impression that Android and Chrome are competing with each other. In the same company. Each group develops its own hardware: Android has the Nexus phones, and Chrome the Chrome books. Each team develops it's own browser too. When asked about bringing Chrome to Android, an Android team member responded something like "I don't know, ask the Chrome team."

Google is a much smaller company, employee-wise. If they want to keep up with Apple's innovations, they need to get more efficient and larger. I've heard a rumor that Google wants to hire 9,000 employees this year. Good luck with that... just don't forget efficiency.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

WWDC 2011 Predictions

Everyone loves a good Apple rumor, right? Here are some WWDC predictions I just made up. Wouldn't it be cool if I was right?

  • Wireless iPad and iPhone syncing
  • APIs for communications between a Mac app and an iOS app
  • APIs for using an iOS device as a custom controller of a Mac app (e.g. graphic EQ for Garage Band, game controllers, etc.)
  • Cloud storage of iPhone contacts, photos, videos, and app preferences
  • The ability to use the iPad as an additional Mac display
  • Music and vide subscription services
  • A new Android - like notification system to replace pop-ups (i.e. a list of notifications instead of badges and alerts)
  • Bluetooth libraries to allow simple communications with Android and other devices
  • The ability for apps to update their icon for displaying data