WWDC 2011: Reactions from the keynote

Thoughts from our man in the front row.

So that was that. Amidst rumours of new iPhones, iPads, AirPads and Time Capsules, what we actually got was an Olympic Park-sized collection of new software. Delivered over an intense two-hour keynote by Steve Jobs (who got a lengthy standing ovation) and other Apple execs, we saw how Apple's short-term plans are focussed squarely on operating systems, content and tying it all together in an invisible but hugely powerful service called iCloud.

I was at the WWDC Keynote to suck up the experience, join in with the whooping and learn how these updates will change everything again. Here are my top nine thoughts from the day.

1. iOS 5 could put many app developers out of business.
Features such as the Reading list, iMessage and iCloud are quite clearly right additions for Apple, but what about Instapaper, What's App Messenger and Dropbox? After all, these are apps that have been embraced by the App Store, but have been now integrated into the DNA of iOS and OSX. However, Joe Braidwood from SwiftKey who has an app that looks just like Apple's new split virtual keyboard, isn't worried of cannibalisation. He told me: “even with a split key layout, our keyboard tech still surpasses Apple.”

2. Touchscreen computing will come to OSX
Everything I saw in the Lion presentation – swiping Safari windows, full-screen apps, Launchpad – was geared towards it working with finger swipes. We're at a halfway stage with the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad, but it's not unconceivable for Apple to create one master touchscreen OS that spans all its devices. When will Apple finally say goodbye to the mouse?

3. GameCenter has a way to go
Following a succession of cheering and high-fives for Newsstand and over-the-air software updates, the WWDC faithful fell silent when GameCenter was mentioned. Games are big business for Apple, and the likes of Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft are still figuring out how to claw back market share from the iDevice platforms. The idea of social gaming on iOS is still small fry but could be a sleeping giant.

4. Apple continues to 'learn' from existing tech, making it its own.
No great shakes here, Apple has been doing it for years, but today's announcement saw a few features that looked like things I've seen before. The drop-down Notifications menu reminded me of HTC Sense. AirDrop is a spruced up Bluetooth protocol. Others I've already mentioned in point one. It's not a bad thing, though. Having everything integrated into one iEcosystem is what makes Apple so appealing to millions.

5. Is Apple becoming too reliant on the internet?
With everything going into the iCloud, what happens when the internet isn't available, do you just not get your content? A tweet during the conference from @ARThompson1975 asked me whether it will “all work over our very slow rural broadband?” Yes, but not as Apple intended. And what of security? Apple wowed the crowd with images from its new server farm, which would rival the USS Enterprise for mass, but what's the back up, back up plan?

6. iCloud is a bargain.
While the UK price hasn't been announced for iTunes Match, the whole iCloud package is very enticing. How effective it will all work is a different matter and I can't wait to try it out. When you consider that MobileMe (RIP) cost £59 per year, Apple's statement of intent to Google and Amazon is clear. Expect a cloud storage battle sometime soon. As a side note, existing MobileMe customers will have their subscription extended for a year.

7. There are hundreds of new features
For every new announcement – Lion, iOS and iCloud – the presentations finished with a bombardment of new features to look forward to. AirPlay Mirroring and Windows Migrations being two. We'll still be discovering new ones this time next year.

8. Apple Developers are nuts. In a loveable way.
I've seen the Regent Street queues for new Apple products first hand, but these guys take it to a new level. I spoke to one chap who told me: “It's the one time a year the family can get together to discuss, plan and create”. He then roared like a lion. Apt. They can also move fast (Devs and lions). After the shutters to the auditorium opened it was like Toys R Us on Christmas Eve. Find yourself between them and the front five rows? Move or be moved.

9. UK tech journos have a keen eye
Tweeting, live-blogging and sucking up the WWDC experience around me were some of the UK's foremost tech journalists. Ok, so we all got the Time Capsule thing wrong but, it made for good following. Here's what they had to say after the Keynote:

Mark Prigg, Technology Correspondent of the Evening Standard said:
The incredible success of the iPad and iPhone is going to change the way we use our desktop computers, judging by Apple's new version of Mac OS.
Lion is unashamedly iPad like, and there's even an option to use an app desktop incredibly similar to the iOS - right down to the same folders. With the addition of full screen apps, it seems Apple is inevitably heading towards a touchscreen Mac sooner rather than later.
For iOS, the new notification system is excellent, while iCloud is pretty much as expected - not the streaming music service some were hoping for, but impressive and useful nonetheless. However, possibly the most significant announcement was that iOS devices no longer need a computer - a real move toward the 'post PC ' future Apple has talked about. It seems that in the future, wherever you are and on whatever device, the look and feel of the iPhone will never be far away.
Twitter: @markprigg

David Phelan of the Independent told me:
The range of announcements was extraordinary, almost bewildering. The new iOS looks spectacular, and the iPhone, iPod and iPad at last really do become post-PC products now you won't need a computer to make them work. Smaller touches, as always were great: using the Volume Up button as camera trigger is neat - will it herald a move to app developers being allowed to use the iPhone 4's hardware more aggressively? And will the teenagers currently besotted with BlackBerry Messenger be tempted to switch to iPhone with its similar iMessage service?
Twitter: davidphelan2009

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Source: T3 Tech Videos

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