What Did We See At WWDC 1

WWDC, The development conference where developers go to discuss the future. One key company which is shaping the future is Apple, meaning that the eyes of the technology world are focused on Steve Jobs as he gives his Keynote speech. This year Apple have made it clear that they are focusing their efforts towards the mobile platform, first with their announcement of the iPad, followed a few days later by a preview of iPhone OS 4.0. WWDC was therefore more than likely going to be the platform for Apple to announce the much-anticipated iPhone 4. This blog post will look at three main areas of the keynote address, delivery of Steve’s speech, what was missing and of course the iPhone.

iPhone 4
The new iPhone announcement was almost a 100% certainty after the prototype was discovered and photographed by magazines in the USA. When Jobs reviled the design he himself made a joke saying “please stop me if you’ve seen it before”. The design was that of the leaked prototype, however with one difference, this was delivered by Steve and viewed in person/full screen.

The iPhone has several new features. The first of which is the new camera set up. The iPhone has graduated to a 5 megapixel sensor and uses backlighting technology to keep the CCD compact. This will be music to many photographers ears, including mine. I have a DSLR which I use for all my commercial work, however when at university or on a night out, this camera is unsuitable. The 5MP camera built into the iPhone would be more than adequate for these ‘candid’ snaps. Many thought that man would walk on Mars before Steve allowed another hole in beautiful designed case, however they were wrong as the new iPhone includes an LED flash. Personally i have always looked upon these in a dim light (no pun intended) as they rarely throw any extra light on the subject in question. However hopefully when coupled with this backlight CCD, Jony Ive’s sacrifice will not have been in vain.

When a front facing camera was announced there would only be one reason for adding this feature, video calling. In the past I have had this feature available on my Nokia N95, fellow family members also had video call enabled handsets, and amongst us we had a couple of hours worth of video minutes included within our contracts. It was magical at first being able to see each other, and we perhaps used it once or twice, but after the initial excitement had died down this feature was never to have been used again. My initial thought was therefore skeptical wondering why Apple had allowed this gimmick onto their new product; then it came to me. It’s true that the navigation of any handset other than the iPhone is complex, the iPhone made browsing the mobile web simple, where others had failed. Apple have a history of turning around technology where others have failed, you needn’t look further than the MP3 player and the iPod for an example. I’m therefore prepared to give Apple a chance with this one. The wifi roll out of FaceTime will be similar to that of the iPod, iPhone and iPad, first viewed with skepticism, then embraced by the world, soon wondering why we ever settled for not seeing people when we talk to them over the phone.

I have always been a keen photographer and technology follower, video has never really featured in my life, with me concentrating towards capturing life within a still frame rather than a moving one. That isn’t to say that I have never wished to have a good quality video camera. Just as I have faced problems when wanting to take pictures on the move or when out at uni, the same has been true for taking video. Being a student there is never a dull moment that shouldn’t be placed on Facebook to be relived over and over again. The 3GS video was good a couple of years ago, but with the advancement of HD, quality  of video compared to other devices made the iPhone appear abysmal; so much so that I had considered purchasing the Kodak Zi8 on return to uni for just such occasions. iPhone 4 supports 720p the 2nd highest HD quality available (if you exclude the 1080i unused standard), more than adequate for Facebook and general clips. Apple is so excited about bringing high quality video to the iPhone that they have announced iMovie for iPhone. I am looking at this product with some skepticism. The iPhone screen is still fairly compact, so i cant imagine video editing on this device to be an overly enjoyable experience, only time will tell. I hope that this application will be made available for the iPad, as this would be the perfect device for mobile video editing. Large files could of course be transferred from the iPhone to iPad using the camera kit if such features are supported in the future.

Retina display. In lay mans terms, a very crisp display containing 78% of the pixels on an iPad screen in a much smaller space. This feature is hard to judge the effectiveness based the videos made available by Apple on the keynote. However the theory behind it makes sense, and I for one welcome a brighter crisper screen, especially on a small device.

The other hardware development was the gyroscope. This feature will play a large part in-game development, even the demo of jenga which was coupled together in a few days by Apple looked amazing, so it will be interesting to see what developers come up with on that front.

I think the iPhone 4 spec has given us a good idea of what to expect for the second gen iPad. The new retina screen and gyroscope are almost a given as these features (by the time of production) would be relatively cheap to include. A front facing camera will always be on the prediction list until Apple deliver, personally I have no use for a front facing camera so wont be upgrading my iPad just for that.

This keynote speech was delivered by CEO Steve Jobs, who from walking onto the stage of any announcement, delivers news with such an aura that the entire audience hang on every word in a spell-bound manor; this was no different.

There were however a few issues which I had, the first was not Steve’s fault, and it was the lack of internet access during his demo. This was caused by the 570+ mifi and 3G devices being used by bloggers to stream the keynote contents to the world. Just taking a moment to think of internet 10-15 years ago, where Internet was a luxury consumed over dial-up the mind boggles that it can now be accessed wirelessly anywhere in the world. Steve dealt with this hitch with a tongue in cheek manor beautifully, asking bloggers to close their connections down. Connections were restored both to bloggers and Steve during the pretension after technicians ran around frantically to fix it. With Apples demanding perfection, I think its safe to say that this issue will not occur again.

The second issue is with the games showcased. A brief reminder that this conference was attended by developers who have created applications from 1Password to Omnifocus, games do fall within this category and should be featured, but not to the extent they were. Over 15 minutes on both Farmville and Guitar Hero neither interested me, (and judging by the slow applauding) by the audience either. By all means let’s see some of the cool developments, but must they all be games? And must they be so long?

What Was Missing
I think it’s safe to say that this keynote was a one product showcase, there was no announcement of any advancement on MobileMe, iTunes.com, Apple TV or iWork 10. I couldn’t understand this at first, but this has started to fit in with Apples new agenda. In the beginning of 2010, Apple announced the iPad, and the iPad only; no other heavily anticipated products were announced, all eyes were on the iPad. A few days later and the press were called together for the revealing of iPhone OS 4. Perhaps the press will be summoned in a few days time for the announcement of the above rumored products?

Will I Be Buying An iPhone 4?
Before the keynote I had decided that I had no need for a new iPhone, I was tied into a contract that didn’t end until 2011 and couldn’t really see what else Apple would bring to the device other than video calling. If all they had done was add a front facing camera and redesign the case I probably would have stood by my decision. Instead they increased the quality of the camera and processor, both features which I have wanted. I have found that I can trade in my current iPhone 3GS 32gb for over £250, meaning to get a sim free handset should only set me back a max of £400, well worth upgrading to get the extra features. I shall of course be getting e 32gb model in black, and be pre-ordering the device on the 15th June 2010.

Its slim, its sexy, its got brilliant new features. Bring on the 24th June!

Its slim, its sexy, its got brilliant new features. Bring on the 24th June!