It’s hard to even think of a witty way to start this post. I can try to seem restraint about my enthusiasm or I can shower Apple with joy. I don’t really want to do either but the fact is that I’m overwhelmingly satisfied with this year’s showing by Apple at WWDC. Three pieces of software were shown that are either game changers or major improvements to existing products. OS X Lion is a wonderful refinement to the venerable OS. iOS 5 takes the fight back to Android (and wins). iCloud is the first cloud service I really, really want. Let’s jump in. Continue Reading
As Apple is prone to do, the company has announced the date of the World Wide Developer Conference, taking place in San Fransisco from June 6-10th. Apple seems to be placing heavy emphasis on software at this year’s event, giving sneak peaks at OS X 10.7 “Lion” and presumably iOS 5. However, this has thrown into question any introduction of hardware. Isn’t the iPhone 5 supposed to be launched at the event? Is the iPad 3 coming? Any Macs? Is Apple even going to make a new phone ever again!!? People feel lost without definite answers, and speculation is rampant. Let’s sort through it all and figure out what’s what.
But why on earth would Apple forego the launch of the iPhone 5? Wouldn’t that be crazy? We can chalk this up to a few possible reasons.
1) Supply. Supply is a huge issue with the Japanese earthquake which affects the creation of batteries and semiconductors used in the creation of most consumer goods. This fact, along with the raging demand for iPad 2s, may be creating a dearth of A5 chips that Apple wants to use in the iPhone 5.
2) Design. I think it’s no secret that Apple was expecting the iPhone 4 design to be an enduring shape and style for at least a few generations. Antenna-gate ruined that by revealing a critical design flaw. Apple could continue to use the iPhone 4 design (we’d survive) but there’s a chance they don’t want to. So for the last year the iPhone team has been scrambling to make a new design, perhaps? This R&D time has probably pushed back any production dates for the new design. Along with that, there’s the fact that the A5 is a big chip, almost twice the size of the A4. That’s trivial in the iPad, but Apple could be having a hard time squeezing the A5 into an iPhone without cutting out battery capacity or aggressively under-clocking the processor. Oh, and there’s always the possibility of 4G integration in a fall release.
3) Schedule. There are rumors surfacing that Apple is just redoing their product release schedule and shifting the iPhone to a fall release. Makes sense since the iPods are now pretty much old news and you might as well announce the iPod Touch upgrade at the same time as its sibling, the iPhone.
Whatever the reason, I would expect a lack of iPhone 5 at WWDC to be a mild hiccup, we’d get over it. The real question is what iOS 5 brings to the table. Lion is pretty much understood, but what’s on the mobile front? Last year it was all about multitasking and nailing the coffin on Flash support. This year my big hopes are three things: revised notifications, new messaging system, and widgets. Everyone hates iOS’s notifications. It needs to be less obtrusive. I don’t know what implementation Apple will do, but something that could not interrupt you and provides some info of what the content of the notification is. I want a new messaging system where I can write a message without actually going to the message app, just let me write a quick response by clicking the notification and bring up a text box. And widgets are really important. If the lock screen offered some form of dashboard with very small widgets for weather, mail, calendars or messages, it would be great. When I get a buzz in my pocket, don’t make my dive into the phone UI just to see I have junk mail. The iPad would flourish with this feature.
Whatever happens, you can be sure I’ll be here on June 6th to analyze and over analyze everything we see.
It was 10 years ago today – March 24th, 2001 – that Apple released the very first public retail version of Mac OS X 10.0. To think that it has been 10 years since that auspicious day is pretty amazing. I feel old. I still remember back in 1999 when my mother and I first watched the downloadable demonstration of the OS X environment. The dock, the aqua UI, the shear modern look of the thing was really dazzling to my young eyes. And here we are today in 2011, getting ready for the 8th iteration of the OS that saved Apple with version 10.7.
Arguably more than the iMac or iPod, it was Mac OS X that really saved Apple. Back in the 90s, Apple was in the midst of an OS crisis. The “Classic” OS that had evolved for years had reached the end of its usefulness, it was desperately out of date and antiquated against Windows 98. It lacked protect memory, preemptive multitasking, or any form of modern networking. Apple’s internal projects to build a new OS, codenamed Copland, began in 1987 and lived in development hell for over 10 years before being scrapped. Only after Apple purchased Steve Job’s NeXT and transporting the technology featured in that company’s NeXTSTEP OS did the company get back on track. The result of that project was the announcement of OS X in 1998.
Yet for a while, classic Apple fans hated OS X. They considered it a sacrilegious diversion from the classic programming and design environment of their 25-year-old platform. OS X called for significant changes in program design and philosophy, and this took a lot of adjustment. But it was all for the better. While early versions of OS X were unstable and ultimately incomplete, by 2002 OSX 10.2 “Jaguar” had yielded a vastly faster and more powerful operating system than its predecessors. Since then, Apple has been able to expand OSX across 5 more iterations and has made OSX one of the best operating systems available today (arguably the best). It has been through the power of OSX and the tight-knit interface between software and hardware that has allowed Apple to deliver some of the best computers in their history (and at their highest prices ever, too). OSX was the catalyst to drastically improve Apple’s computer sales. People buy Macs, even at a premium, for that software that they can’t get anywhere else.
Even beyond the computer, OS X has continued to push Apple forward. After all, the iPhone was first advertised as running OS X. iOS is very much the child of OS X, inheriting its core technology and design philosophy. And now iOS defines the entirety of Apple’s wildly successful mobile business. From the iPod Touch, iPhone, Apple TV and of course the iPad, Apple has built a remarkably ecosystem from iOS that owes its entire existence to OS X. 10.7 Lion’s re-convergence with iOS is just a sign of the circular flow between father and child operating systems, constantly learning from each other.
Here’s to 10 more years of Apple’s OS, from 10.7 to OS XI and beyond.
This was a delightful surprise for me to gush over with my morning coffee: Apple has announced an October 20th press conference titled “Back to the Mac”. Obviously the conference will deal with the Mac platform and may include new hardware and a most definitely a preview of Apple’s newest operating system: OSX 10.7. See the lion peaking through the apple logo there? Guess that confirms that this release will be titled “Lion”, which seems about right. Now the question is what will the new OS have in store?
Snow Leopard was had a feature-freeze in order to do some serious work under the hood, so now it may be time to bring user-end features back. Off the bat, I’m pretty sure we’re going to see a new UI style to replace the depreciated and now inconsistent Aqua design. Back during development of 10.6, rumors swirled that Apple was experimenting with a new UI called “Marble” that took many iOS design cues like glossy, glassy blues and black window frames, more color, and tighter integration. Apple has already experimented with this in 10.6, as seen by Quicktime X which has a black, glossy window frame. As well, the UI design of iTunes has changed several times between 8 and 10, making me think that Apple is experimenting with different styles to see which consumers enjoy the most. Along with UI changes, I expect that Apple is going to bring some kind of iOS integration back into the mainstream platform, maybe in the form of a new app launcher to replace the dock or some kind of “Instant-On” OS that side loads with the main system.
As for under the hood, I’m praying that Apple updates their graphics stack to support OpenGL 4.1, because right now that is an Achilles heel in a platform that is finally having a gaming renaissance with Steam. I’d expect some improvements to OpenCL and Grand Central Dispatch as well. Overall though, we will just need to wait and see.
October 20th ladies and gentleman, mark on your calendars!