iPhoney

It makes me sad that I’m going to have to write something negative here: I was really looking forward to seeing what Apple had in store for us developers and Mac users with Leopard and the iPhone. Unfortunately my expectations overall weren’t met, and the whole keynote ended on a really off note.

But first, let me highlight the good/interesting stuff:

  • Safari is coming to Windows. Curious what the plugin story will be, need to do some research here.
  • Leopard has stacks and a new Finder. The latter is much more iTunes-like in its UI, right down to the use of CoverFlow. (I hope those CoverFlow guys got a ton of money from Apple, considering how their idea is now being used on iTunes, iPhone, Apple TV, and the Finder!) Need to play with this some to see how it stacks up in real world use before making any judgements, but it looked good.
  • Resolution independent UI looked very nice, as did the CoreAnimation demo
  • Performance of everything demoed seemed really snappy. Curious how it will fare on my Core Duo MacBook Pro (pre Core 2 Duo).
  • Great 64bit story on Leopard, vastly superior to what Microsoft has done with XP and Vista. I hope that 32bit apps really do ‘just work’.

For everything else in Leopard, the demos this year showed incremental refinement to the stuff demoed last year but nothing really jumped out to me. I’m not the only one:

  • Dan Dickinson says the keynote showed the greener side of Apple, since it was “60-80% recycled”.
  • Simeon Bateman says the keynote “lacked that apple fanfare feeling”.
  • Simon Brocklehurst says the new top secret features were MIA. Further, he points out that there was “nothing that makes Vista looked dated at a stroke (which is what I thought they’d have been aiming for)”
  • Finally, the inimitable Fake Steve Jobs says “My Keynote Smelled Like Ass”

But the major disappointment of the day was the announcement of the iPhone developer story. Apple announced that they would allow third parties to extend the iPhone with Safari, so that therefore no SDK was necessary. Frankly, I was offended they insulted the intelligence of Mac developers by claiming that a web application bookmarked in Safari was just as good as a built-in iPhone application. As Gene Cowan points out in the comments on TUAW:

I’m not a developer, but let me see if I’ve got this straight from a user’s perspective: if I want to use a third party app, I’ll have to go into Safari, then go to a website, then run an app from the page?

How does this jibe with Apple’s concerns for ease of use by the end user?

Sounds like an awful lot of extra steps. It also sounds like every time I go to use one of these apps living in the “cloud”, I’m going to have to wait for it to download over the pokey EDGE network rather than just have the code stored on my iPhone as a regular app.

Simon Brocklehurst makes a similar point (article linked previously above):

It’s good that the iPhone browser supports AJAX (insofaras Safari supports AJAX), and it will be possible to build useful apps. However, this simply isn’t good enough as a third-party application strategy. If it was good enough, Apple’s own iPhone apps would written on top of Safari. They’re not.

On the other hand, the 37signals folks think this is great news:

That is a bold idea. Very forward thinking. A whole new product with the opportunity for a whole new platform. But instead Apple chooses simple and familiar: HTML and Javascript. Tens of millions of developers already know it. Instant developer uptake and an instant batch of apps that likely already work with the iPhone.

I understand, but disagree. Don’t get me wrong, I think its great that AJAX apps will work in iPhone via Safari, and I think its great that they’ve integrated iPhone functionality into Safari’s scripting model. But to argue that this is the equivalent of having full-fledged iPhone integration is ridiculous. It isn’t even equivalent to Dashboard. I’m still holding out hope that there is a real developer story forthcoming, and the song and dance we heard today is something Apple just threw together in response to the outcry. But my hopes are dwindling.

[Update 17:01 Pacific] One other thing that I thought was an off note was the way they introduced Safari for Windows. They put up a pie chart showing IE, Safari, and Firefox marketshare, then when they introduced the Safari version for Windows, they showed it wiping Firefox off the chart while IE kept its current marketshare. A small thing, but it seems like bad form to attack a well liked open source project in this way. Couldn’t they take their marketshare from the suckier browser with the bigger share?

[Update 21:23 Pacific] John Gruber has written up his own thoughts on the WWDC keynote as well. I’d say we agreed pretty much on everything, but since he’s a much better writer he puts things much more succintly than I can:

Or, take Apple’s argument regarding iPhone development and apply it to the Mac. If web apps running in Safari are a great way to write iPhone apps, why aren’t web apps running in Safari a great way to write Mac apps?

If all you have to offer is a shit sandwich, just say it. Don’t tell us how lucky we are and that it’s going to taste delicious.

[Update 06-12-2007 13:35 Pacific] Had to add a link to this new tshirt (tip of the hat to Gizmodo:

tshirt reading 'worst. keynote. ever.'

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~ by Andrew Shebanow on 11Jun07.

One Response to “iPhoney”

  1. […] that I don’t think anyone really believes what Jobs says. And, more importantly, it’s insulting to portray some browser hooks as an SDK for writing true iPhone applications. The iPhone Web […]

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