Thoughts from WWDC 2011

The technical sessions
I can’t talk much about the technical sessions, because of the gag order, but trust me.. if you are a developer, you will be salivating at getting your hands on iOS5. Tons of new api’s, and lots of fixes/missing functionality

The Truth is in the cloud
This is a remarkable makeover for a desktop/device centric company. The transition is happening at a pretty remarkable pace too. iCloud makes it easier for iOS developers and consumers. Moving data is seamless, and requires very little effort.

Google is about the web. Apple is about native

Last year’s WWDC had a lot of HTML5 centric tracks. This year, they are all gone. There was no mention of it in any of their keynotes, and there was maybe one or two session on Safari/HTML5. They are adding tons of API’s for native, zilch for services.

My Take: Apple is deemphasizing web centric development, because they want to channel everything through the app store. It is not about technology, it is about control. For example, they want a cut from their ‘NewsStand’ functionality from subscriptions. And there are attempts to bypass them by publishers who are unhappy about this, like this interesting story about the Financial Times .

But what does this mean for companies that need to support iOS as well as other platforms, like Andriod? There are no web services available. It is unclear what the terms of service will say. For many companies, unless Apple moves to define web services for iCloud (as opposed to native bindings), iCloud will be worth avoiding. Using iCloud would mean support iCloud for iOS, plus additional services for non-Apple platforms.

I suspect that many companies will take a hybrid approach, like doing some stuff in a UIWebView, while other functionality will be in a native shell, and they will be stitched together using tools like PhoneGap.

‘It just works’

This will sound like a fanboy statement, but I believe Jobs when he says this. The demos on opening day were quite astounding. Make a change on one device, and it is available on another pretty much instantaneously. They have done a terrific job of making moving data part of an OS task, irrespective of whether the app is running, suspended or otherwise not running.

It truly did work. For me personally, this solves a big hassle of having data spread across multiple devices. I am looking forward to this.

Cutting the cord

Finally. I am ecstatic. iOS 5 will not require you to connect to a computer. While the statement seemed to be driven for people whose first and only computer is an ipad or an iphone, this will be a huge help for people with multiple devices also.

Yep, it will maintain MacOS as the leading ease of use OS. I wonder about the scroll part though (which has been reversed to make it consistent with touch behavior). I tried it out and it blew my mind instantly. It will take getting used to.

The $30 price tag makes the upgrade a no-brainer. Downloads only from the app store? How the heck does someone in say, India, download 4GB’s? It will be a killer, IMO. I struggle through Xcode installs now, at 4GB, and have to let it run overnight. (My cable modem ISP is throttling me, I’m pretty sure). I read the statement as ‘we don’t really care about non-1st world countries getting Lion’. Fortunately, incremental downloads are on their way.

There is a reason I prefer Chrome over Safari. Speed and the ease of upgrade. It just happens, and I don’t really care about uprades. Apple could learn a thing or two from Chrome.

Buy once, use everywhere
My wife and I both have iphones. We both have a MacOS machines. I do not need to buy apps multiple times – buy once and use it on all the machines associated with your account. Nice