Monday, June 6, 2011

Thoughts from Apple's WWDC

Steve Jobs and company held WWDC today and released details on everything from iCloud to updates to iOS. I'll break each of the major updates down explaining what they are and what they mean to the industry in general.


iMessage is very much similar to Blackberry Messenger and it has the exact same problem BBM has. It's limited to one platform. In this case, it's iOS. I compare this to what MS is pioneering in the industry by including Facebook Messenger and Windows Live Messenger (Live Messenger is available for Windows Phone 7, iOS, Android, Blackberry, PC, and Xbox) into Windows Phone 7 with Mango and it seems like Apple's not even keeping up. I want to chat with everyone, regardless of their device. iMessage doesn't do that. I also haven't seen word if you'll need to share a unique ID with each person you wish to communicate with via iMessage like one has to with BBM (which I consider to be another issue. I'm hoping Mango is smart enough to at least pull Live Messenger IDs from Facebook).

Camera improvements

iPhones will now have a direct to camera button on the lock screen and the volume up button will double as a shutter button. This in contrast to not even having to go to the lock screen on Windows Phone 7 (just hold the camera button) to launch into the camera.

Wireless sync

You'll now be able to sync content without plugging into a PC. I can tell you that I've been doing this with Zune and Windows Phone 7 for some time now. Apple users are going to love this.

Notification Center

Notification Center brings in all of your alerts on one page so you can sort through them. It's a lot like what Android does and what I do with Windows Phone 7 and my home screen.


I saved iCloud for last and it could really be its own post. After all this time, Apple has had time to put together a great cloud solution. It's nothing to get excited about. Most of what iCloud is can already be done with SkyDrive and Live Mesh. You can have your computer automatically upload content to the cloud (like Live Mesh and SkyDrive) and it pushes it to all of your devices (like Live Mesh, SkyDrive, and Mango will do). It's been announced that calendar, mail, and contact sync is free (up to 5GB). I'm not sure what the point of free mail sync is. All three mail services I use (GMail, Hotmail, and my work email) are all backed up already. I don't need another place to store it. Calendar and contacts are already backed up again in Outlook, GMail, and Live.

Now here's the part I find hilarious. The PhotoStream cloud feature backs up your photos in the cloud. Any picture you take on your iPhone is automatically sent to the cloud and stored there... for 30 days. So if you take a picture you REALLY like, you better get it off the cloud within 30 days or it could be gone. Where's the customer service on that one?

Another aspect of iTunes in the Cloud. It will let you download music you've purchased (I assume from the iTunes store) and steam it to your devices at no additional charge. Jobs declared this a first for the industry. I couldn't confirm it because while I'm pretty sure I can do this on my Windows Phone 7, I have a Zune Pass subscription so pretty much every song on the Zune Marketplace is a song I can just stream. Curse you, Zune Pass! You're keeping me from checking to see if you do something less than you are!

On top of iTunes in the Cloud, for $24.99 a year, you can store up to 25,000 songs from your library in the cloud with the iTunes Match service. There's no option to store music in the cloud any other way, even if it's just a few songs. That 5GB you get for free for calendar, mail, and contacts is limited to that sort of thing. No using it as you want.

Now I've been using two different cloud storage solutions for some time now. I'm using SkyDrive and DropBox. I love both of them. SkyDrive lets me back up whatever I want. DropBox makes it very easy to share stuff I put in the cloud with other people. Plus, they're both free (however, if you want more than 2GB on DropBox, it does cost something). iCloud doesn't seem to do either of these. Of all the cloud storage solutions I've seen, this one easily ranks as the worst.


Nothing to see here. Apple has created nothing innovative. They've managed to copy the best from the competition and they didn't even copy those ideas that well. iMessage is limited to iOS devices (not even OS X love!) The camera and wireless sync capabilities are pretty much straight from Windows Phone 7. Notification Center is straight from Android and offers the same functionality I've been enjoying on Windows Phone 7. iCloud offers limited options, features that are completely pointless, and is easily beat by the competition.

One thing I tell people to keep in mind with technology is to consider what's coming down the pipe as well as what's available today. Just comparing the news about Mango and what we've now seen Apple show off for the fall, we see that Apple's now trailing when it comes to innovation. Perhaps they got too comfortable at the top, but they didn't show anything inventive or game changing. This is the state of Apple and the iOS for the next year. Perhaps Steve Jobs will be able to wow us next year. If you're looking for the next hot item, it's still Mango.

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