WWDC 2008 Wrapup

Steve Jobs, and a bigger crew than normal, gave another of his infamous keynotes, the ones that have you sitting on the edge of your seat with bated breath awaiting the release of the new Apple toy. Well, it was definitely one of those keynotes. While normally there are a few things that get me excited about all that is released, this one was a rare exception. Yes, ok, so we’ll get the iPhone 3G in 4 weeks (Friday 7/11 [my guess is at 6pm, per usual]). But for the first 90 minutes of the keynote were quite boring. I concede that this is World Wide Developer Conference and the main focus should be developers, this is grand and all but throw some quality stuff in during the darn keynote.

I won’t argue with the fact that the Rebranded .Mac isn’t a good change; because it absolutely is as badly needed change for .Mac. The ongoing site issues are almost as infamous as Twitter’s and one can’t argue that a change is sorely needed. However, there were not that many compelling things with the change. It almost seems like a let down when Apple said “It’s Exchange for the rest of us.” It seems to me like this was a completely afterthought for the service. Despite this, I do have to say having a web-based Mail.app look-a-like is quite nice and push service will be convenient for those of us who run only Macs and don’t use Exchange as our email server.

Another item that Apple released related to developers, and related to push, is the Push backend from Apple. This will be a great feature to allow updates even when an application is not actively running on the iPhone. This is a significant improvement over no notifications at all and not allowing background processes to run, with no way of getting notifications. This may actually be the biggest announcement, next to the 3G iPhone itself, to come out of the keynote. This feature set will allow the infamous iChat and other IM services to actually keep you up to date with all of your IMs. This one feature may actually get me to go with unlimited SMS messages on my phone, provided we get an all in one client like Apollo or maybe even Adium *ahem*. It will not be available until September. My guess is that we’ll hear more about this with an upgrade to the iPod line (if there is one this year).

I won’t go into every detail about the iPhone 3G, but here are the basics. It’s 3G with generally the same shape and size. It is a bit smaller, but not my a big noticable difference. The actual case is now plastic and not the aluminum of the first generation phone. I believe as though this is the idea since the chipset is larger and requires more space, so the all plastic back allows the radio to fully operate. An aluminum back would hinder the radio from working properly. There are two colors available at launch. Black or white. I think this will leave room for additional colors down the road. Including the infamous ‘Red’ line. The physical dimensions of the phone are slightly bigger. .5MM taller, 1.1MM wider, and .7mm thicker. We’re talking no bigger than a piece of mechanical pencil lead thicker. Most of the iPhone cases should work perfectly with the new phones.

It will initially be released in 22 countries with a total of 70 this year alone. One new feature of the 2.0 software that will be extremely useful for the alternative input methods is the ability to draw the characters that you want to type. This will make it a more potentially appealing phone for the Chinese and Japanese markets.
The next major thing for the iPhone is the integrated ability to read iWork and Office documents natively. This will be a major selling point for those who need access to their files on the go. I know having this feature might be extremely useful for me in order to have some of the most common information that I need handy.

I’ll briefly mention GPS. While this is a major addition to the hardware, the hit the battery life will take is going to be a major downfall. Yes, I would assume that many would not keep the GPS up and running all of the time, which would be the best way to run the phone to maximize the battery life between charges.

The biggest and most exciting part of the iPhone 3G strategy is the cost of the iPhone dropping in half. The 8GB model will be $199 and the 16GB model will be $299. This drop shows that Apple is no longer sharing revenue with AT&T (in the US anyway). This is a double edge sword, which I think will pay off for Apple in the end. By dropping the revenue sharing it means that more people will be able to afford the phone right off, thus allowing Apple to sell more and help the bottom-line even further.

While I know I will be purchasing an iPhone, many might not be heading the same direction. Whether it’s because they are too pissed to give Apple another $200 or they are very happy with their current phone or whatever the reason, the best thing is that the iPhone 2.0 software will be available for those with the iPhone 1st Gen model. This means that they can extend their investment just a bit further.

The AppStore, one of the most anticipated items to come from Apple and announced in March, should be opening in “Early” July along with the Release of the 2.0 software. My guess would be sometime after the 4th of July, or maybe on the 4th to give it a full week to get all of the bugs out of the system before the launch on the 11th. However, Apple could always release it on June 29th to say that they released it ‘Earlier than
expected’ and also to commemorate the one year anniversary of the iPhone. The average price, or so it appears, will be about $9.95 for an application. This is not a bad price for good applications. I just hope that iTunes Gift cards will work with the App-store.

Those are the major highlights from the event. There are definitely some more granular items that were discussed throughout the keynote but may not be relevant to most readers.

One last thought, 10.6 is code-named ‘Snow Leopard’. I mean what are they thinking? This is just going to be like Leopard just with some other minor coverings? I don’t get the logic. What they really should have done is called 10.5 Liger, and 10.6 Leopard, then 10.7 could be Snow-Leopard. But that is just my thoughts on the subject.

Our own Joshua Schnell has a post that shows a quick rundown of all of the highlights from the event here.

I'm into everything technology related, particularly anything Apple related. I enjoy programming and tend to lean towards server-based technologies over client-based. You can contact me on twitter, via e-mail, or follow me on friendfeed.