wwdc

Worldwide Developer's Conference

WWDC: a modest proposal

WWDC 2012 tickets went on sale this morning... and sold out less than two hours later. Last year it took 12 hours, two years ago it was a week, before that a month, or more.

So next year it will sell out in what, half an hour? This isn't very sustainable.

I think in this digital age the WWDC format isn't really suitable anymore. I hope that Apple is considering other approaches.

Presentation sessions aren't a very effective way to disseminate information. Live demos and Keynote slideshows are interesting and useful, but when most people watch them on the videos later, I think everyone would be better served if Apple posted presentation videos before the conference — like a month or so before, so people have time to watch them and can discuss them at the conference.

That'd be easier for Apple's developers, too — no pressure to get it right on the day, and would enable them to edit and perfect the videos.

Perhaps the main benefits of attending WWDC are the social interaction amongst developers, and the opportunity to meet and discuss issues with Apple developers at labs and elsewhere.

So if WWDC moved the sessions to videos, the conference could be all about such interactions. It could retain fun events like the Bash, the Apple Design Awards, and Stump the Experts, and perhaps add other similar group activities. Plus the Apple developers could be available throughout the week for one-on-one labs and casual meetings.

To address the limited availability, WWDC could move to a model like other conferences and conventions: sell tickets for individual days. For the very keen, there could be multi-day passes, but for many developers, one or two days would be plenty. Plus without sessions taking up all the room, many more people could attend group events like the awards etc, or find a space for smaller meetups.

Different days could focus on different areas, too — perhaps Monday for the keynote and awards shows, Tuesday & Wednesday for iOS, and Thursday & Friday for Mac. Though without the sessions, the few remaining events and labs could be spread out so more people have a chance to attend the areas that interest them.

I think this would be much better all round, and would enable WWDC to better serve and cope with the ever expanding developer community.

WWDC 08 Stevenote

I previously blogged with my predictions for the Stevenote at this year's WWDC. So how'd I do?

3G iPhone & SDK:

This was of course a no-brainer. There may have been riots in Moscone if this hadn't eventuated. The iPhone 3G meets most of the expectations that people had, with one or two perhaps overly optimistic exceptions: some people were hoping for a front-facing camera with video support, for video chats, which won't be included... yet. Maybe in next year's model?

I wondered when it would be available, predicting "no later than the end of June", but it turned out that July 11 is the magic date. A little off there, but I'm not surprised that it was delayed a little. It's perfect timing for me: my old cellphone contract expires on July 2, so I'll be raring to go on launch day.

One concern with the launch, though, is that it appears that iTunes-based activation will no longer be supported: iPhone customers will have to activate in-store. That will probably lead to really long delays on launch day (and subsequent days)... not something I'm looking forward to.

Although the iPhone 3G will be cheaper up-front, the total cost of ownership is going up. AT&T will be charging $10/month more than before for the data plan, resulting in a total cost over the two year contract of $440, $40 more than before. Even so, the iPhone 3G will be well worth that difference, with faster speeds, better battery life, GPS, and more.

Snow Leopard:

Another rumor I commented on was that Mac OS X 10.6 would be announced, with the code-name "Snow Leopard", as a no-new-features release with performance improvements. This was indeed announced, though somewhat in passing during the Stevenote. Developers attending WWDC apparently got a seed of this release. There was little information on what is included, but I predicted that the rumor that it'd drop PowerPC support was unfounded. I can't say for sure, but considering the intertubes haven't exploded with outrage, I think it's safe to assume this wasn't true.

.Mac Overhaul:

This rumor did come true, too. As widely expected, the new name is MobileMe. I'm still not a big fan of the name, but anything's better than "dot-Mac". From what was shown during the Stevenote (or Schillernote at that point), they do seem to have gotten it right at last. The web apps look very clean and usable, and push synchronization should be an improvement.

New Multi-Touch Device, Other Hardware:

I was very skeptical of the rumor of a new multi-touch device, and wasn't surprised to see it was false. Apple has a great new platform in the iPhone, just at the beginning of taking over the world, so they wouldn't want to distract from that at this stage. Maybe in a couple of years time, they might bring out a touch tablet or something.

As for new Mac models, I didn't expect any, and there certainly weren't any. As I said, WWDC is not the time for new hardware.

No Boom?

I did end jokingly with "The real surprise would be if Steve doesn't say "boom". :)" Maybe that is the biggest surprise of the show; he didn't say "boom" once, unless you count the sound effects in the slides when announcing the lower prices. I'm shocked! :)

Overall, a most satisfactory WWDC Stevenote. I look forward to getting my iPhone 3G, and seeing the plethora of iPhone apps that will start appearing in the App Store. It's going to an excellent platform.

WWDC 08 predictions

Unfortunately I'm not attending WWDC this year. I'm not currently working on or immediately planning an iPhone app, and don't expect anything much new for Mac OS X, so it wasn't worthwhile to go this year. Maybe next year?

I'm sure I will write some iPhone apps in the future, though; it's an exciting platform, and I'm really looking forward to getting a new iPhone once they're released.

But speaking of releases, time for some prognostication.

The leading expectation for WWDC 08, of course, is the 3G iPhone with version 2.0 software and the software development kit (SDK). I'm confident that this will eventuate. I'm not sure whether or not the new iPhone model will be immediately available, or just announced for pre-order and delivery later in the month (or even later). If I had to guess, I'd say it'd be released no later than the end of June... but I'm hoping for immediate availability.

There are also questions of whether or not the updated iPhone will be thinner or thicker than the current model, what memory size it'll have, if there will be multiple models (perhaps a cheaper 2.5G and more expensive 3G model), coloring, form-factor, etc. I would guess thinner, double the memory, and only a 3G model (with a preference to switch between 2.5G and 3G).

Another rumor that has been popular recently is an unusual update to Mac OS X to version 10.6, code-named "Snow Leopard". This would be unusual in that it is supposed to not include any major new features, but just concentrate on tidying up the code base, improving performance and stability... stuff that is normally the realm of bug-fix releases.

But it is supposed to also drop PowerPC support. This would make a certain amount of sense — it'd allow throwing away lots of code, and simplifying many things. But it might be a little too soon for such a drastic change; there are still plenty of perfectly good PowerPC machines out there (I have a few in active use).

There have been rumors that 10.6 would change Carbon support in some way. Some thought it would drop Carbon entirely, or Carbon UI, but I don't think that is realistic. There are still many Carbon apps out there, including big ones from Adobe, Microsoft, and others. What I could see happening, though, is (as Gruber says) adding Objective-C wrappers around framework calls that are only available via Carbon currently. That would certainly be very welcome; as a Cocoa programmer, it can be mildly distasteful to have to drop down to Carbon to implement some functionality, though it's certainly not the end of the world.

Another popular rumor is that .Mac will be overhauled and renamed, perhaps as "Mobile Me". This has been fueled by people noticing that me.com is owned by Apple, and seeing the text "Mobile Me" referenced in resources. This does seem pretty conclusive, though I can't say I particularly like the name. On the other hand, .Mac has always been a silly name, so Mobile Me isn't any worse. It does certainly make sense to rebrand it to avoid reference to Macs, now that Apple has a major non-Mac platform in the iPhone.

Finally, some people are predicting a new multi-touch device, perhaps some sort of tablet or Newton-like form factor. I'd certainly welcome that, but am rather skeptical that such a device would be introduced now. I'm sure Apple has a few such devices in development, even if only as experimental projects, but introducing one now would distract from the new iPhone, unless it were positioned as a "super-iPod touch" kind of device, running the mobile OS X. I would really like to see a multi-touch Mac tablet... but that seems even less likely at this stage.

I would be very surprised if any Mac hardware were announced. WWDC isn't traditionally the venue for hardware releases; last year Apple released updated MacBook Pros a week before WWDC, rather than waiting a week. At its core, WWDC is for developers, talking about the OS. That's the way it should be.

It'll certainly be very interesting to see what is announced. Maybe Steve will surprise us all. Let's all play WWDC bingo! The real surprise would be if Steve doesn't say "boom". :)

Post WWDC wrapup

I'm back from WWDC now, and am in the process of moving into a shiny new 17" MacBook Pro with the high-res screen. A rather nice machine. I ordered it the day it was released, the Tuesday before WWDC, but unfortunately it didn't arrive till I was already at WWDC. Oh well... I'll have it for next time! :)

Anyway, it was a good week. I met many developers, including well-known people like Steven & Cabel of Panic (who I had met before, and who most deservedly won an Apple Design Award for Coda for Best Mac OS X User Experience); plus Daniel Jalkut of Red Sweater Software, Ken Case of The Omni Group, plus many other developers.

I've already talked about the Stevenote, and of course can't talk about the conference sessions, other than to say that I'm excited about Leopard, and am looking forward to leveraging its features in future versions of my apps.

WWDC has a number of interesting official and unofficial evening events. I enjoyed the sfMacIndie event on Sunday night, the official reception Monday night, the Apple Design Awards and Stump the Experts Tuesday night, the CocoaHeads gathering at the Apple store Wednesday night, and the WWDC Bash Thursday night.

Check out the photos of my trip to San Francisco and (non-NDA'ed) parts of WWDC.

At WWDC

So, I'm at WWDC currently. I've enjoyed meeting fellow developers (and several Dejal product users) around the conference center, at the sfMacIndie event, and the WWDC reception tonight.

I managed to get an okay seat for the Stevenote, a little back from the center of the room... but in a good position to see the repeater screens. I thought it was an interesting keynote, but with few surprises. I know some people are disappointed, but perhaps they had too high expectations?

So, how'd I do with my predictions? Let's see:

  • No hardware announcements: I was right with this one.
  • Possibly updated displays: nope... but not too surprising.
  • We might see a demo of iLife 07 and/or iWork 07: nope.
  • Steve will no doubt mention the iPhone, but there won't be a SDK: yep, called that one. I know this is disappointing for many people, but as I said, that may come later.
  • Steve will spend most of his time talking about Leopard: sure did.
  • The Finder might be rewritten: yes, though it seems more of a cosmetic overhaul than a full rewrite.
  • I've love to see more multi-touch features in the OS, but I don't think we're ready for that yet: yeah, no mention of that... oh well, it was a faint hope!
  • Maybe improved syncing features, to fit in with the iPhone: I seem to recall some mention of this?
  • The ZFS thing has been a popular rumor of late, but I have no idea whether that will eventuate: no mention of this, so perhaps it didn't... or perhaps Steve was annoyed by the "leak".
  • Probably some cosmetic changes in Leopard - using the newly fashionable dark metal styling for all windows, and other UI improvements: yes indeedy. I do like the dark metal, so a unified OS-provided look is a very good thing.
  • Probably no major new programmer APIs: so it would seem.

I seem to have done alright. Of course, my predictions were based on an aggregation of rumors, so hardly a reflection of my own prognostication abilities.

Anyway, on with the WWDC week... though of course I can't write about anything else discussed in the sessions.

Almost time for WWDC07!

Just another few days before WWDC07 kicks off!

I will be attending WWDC again this year, and am looking forward to the Stevenote, the various gatherings of Mac developers, and the conference sessions themselves.

There have been lots of rumors of what Steve Jobs will announce on Monday. For what it's worth, here are my guesses - not based on any inside information (I haven't run a Leopard seed since last year's WWDC), but based on rumors I've read, etc:

  • No hardware announcements: I don't see an updated iMac at WWDC, being a consumer machine. It is overdue, but will probably be updated at a later date.
  • Though updated displays could be possible, with iSight integration, since the standalone iSight is no longer available. I kinda hope not, since I just bought a 23" display!
  • We might see a demo of iLife 07 and/or iWork 07 (or will they call it 08, or something else?), but they won't be available till Leopard is out.
  • Steve will no doubt mention the iPhone, but there won't be a SDK. I wouldn't want them to release one yet; better to lock down the features and let people become familiar with the phone before allowing third-party development for it.
  • Steve will spend most of his time talking about Leopard.
  • The Finder might be rewritten. I personally use Path Finder, a great third-party replacement Finder, but Apple's Finder is definitely in need of improvement.
  • I've love to see more multi-touch features in the OS, but I don't think we're ready for that yet. I'd really like to see something like Microsoft Surface, done the Apple way.
  • Maybe improved syncing features, to fit in with the iPhone.
  • The ZFS thing has been a popular rumor of late, but I have no idea whether that will eventuate. Even if it is the default disk format, that won't necessarily affect existing disks, though, so it doesn't seem like too big a deal to me.
  • Probably some cosmetic changes in Leopard - using the newly fashionable dark metal styling for all windows, and other UI improvements.
  • Probably no major new programmer APIs; Apple would have had to tell us about them before now, to give developers time to get up to speed. But you never know.

Anyway, I could be totally wrong... but those are my guesses. We'll see in just a few days!

I will be wearing one of the several Dejal shirt designs, like the pictured one, so if you're there and see me, come up and say hi! Here's what I look like, too.

I will be at the sfMacIndie event on Sunday night, and hope to meet many fellow indie developers there. I might go to Buzz's party Monday night, or just hang out at the official WWDC reception. And I'll be around for the rest of the week, too.

Should be a great week!

Looking forward to WWDC 2007

I've just purchased the conference ticket, and booked the hotel and airfare for Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, coming in June.

Last year was my first attendance, though I'd been meaning to go for years. I enjoyed it, met a bunch of interesting people, and learned useful things about Leopard etc at the sessions, so I wanted to go again this year.

This year's conference should be very interesting again, with Leopard likely being released either shortly before or (more likely) at the Stevenote.

I look forward to meeting more Mac developers at WWDC this year. I'll probably wear Dejal logo shirts, so if you're there and see me, come up and say hi!

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