Joe Maller.com

No WWDC for me in 2012

WWDC 2012I’m not going to WWDC this year. I made the decision a few months ago, but since tickets went on sale this morning, I thought I’d post my reasoning. Maybe even before it sells out. (update: WWDC sold out in two hours)

I’ve been trying to get an iOS app together for a couple years. While not having finished one feels like a personal failing, I accept that some circumstances are simply beyond my control. So I should restate that; I haven’t finished an app, yet.

My past few WWDCs have gone something like this:

Tickets go on sale and I realize I haven’t worked on iOS stuff for months. I buy a ticket, knowing they’ll sell out, then frantically try to clear my schedule and restart work on my apps. I’ve forgotten nearly everything, so I’m sort of starting from scratch. I order updated versions of several iOS books, read articles and watch sessions from previous WWDCs. If it’s a good year, I have a few weeks to cram and actually start developing something. This makes me happy.

Then the conference starts. It’s embarrassing to be there again with nothing to show or really talk about, so I tend to avoid conversations and keep to myself. This makes me miserable.

The years I did get ahead and had an app partly working, I would come home to find existing responsibilities gradually crowded out iOS work. After a month or two, I’d once again forgotten not only what I was working on, but entire chunks of the language and workflow.

WWDC has also been a week I tend to get horrible news. As in, people-are-dying, horrible. But if not that, some work emergency or obligation always seemed to come up, and instead of returning to my hotel room to review questions from the labs or to try out concepts from presentations, I end up fussing with WordPress or PHP and being miserable.

This year my available time has been a disaster and I don’t see that trend easing anytime soon. There’s no way I could realistically clear my schedule to prepare, so I’m skipping it.

I attended every WWDC since 2003, and I’m especially glad I got to see Steve Jobs speak, both in his prime and one last time in 2011.

I will watch the keynote, renew my developer account and learn from the sessions once they’re posted. But I’m not going to pay all that money, feel guilty taking a seat someone else or put myself through all the same old misery. Hopefully next year…

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link: Apr 25, 2012 10:26 am
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WWDC 2010 Predictions

I’m excited about the new iPhone, though we know so much about it already that there’s not much surprise left. I expect it will ship at the end of the month. As Jonathan pointed out this weekend, June 25th is the last Friday in June and my pick for the release date.

AT&T’s been monkeying with plans and data the past couple weeks, but the most interesting tidbit out of the Death Star was the decision to double early termination fees for smart phones. To me, that’s a defensive move. There won’t be Verizon iPhones this year, but we might see a single-chip dual-mode iPhone which would be the beginning of the end of AT&T’s hegemony in the US. Apple won’t break their contract with AT&T, they’ll just hint that it’s up to the user. After all, the iPhone is open, so the consumer is free to swap in any sim card they’ve got.

I do kind of hope Jobs has Gray Powell introduce the new iPhone. Yeah it’s a longshot, but his appearance onstage would absolutely bring the house down. A lot of Apple developers (and other decent people) were furious about what Gizmodo did to him. Jobs bringing Powell onstage would be a fantastic show of support for Apple employees. I don’t think it’ll happen, but it’s fun to think about.

BTW, Gizmodo was denied press credentials. They’re never getting into another apple event. Ever.

iPad

…gets a software update and 15 minutes talking about amazing sales numbers. Unless…

AppleTV

I think we might finally see AppleTV cease to be a hobby. The thing I’ve wanted for a long time would be the ability to “throw” a display from one device to another. We won’t get that exactly, but I think the AppleTV may be reborn as the first peripheral display accessory for the iPad/iPhone. Essentially an AppleTV connected display would be a proxy-resolution mirrored display for a touch devices. No more of that silly grey swipe-box in Apple’s current Remote.app. What is on your TV is on your iPad. Adam Lisagor described almost exactly the same thing. Plus, when media is playing, the iPad or iPhone would have access to the media’s metadata, like a live DVD extra or PiP. (thanks Jonathan)

Little Fluffy Clouds

I don’t know if we’ll see the cloud services that a lot of people are hoping for. Is the NC data center even finished? (I find that video hilarious. Either it’s a data center or a Costco.)

While I’d love to see MobileMe finally live up to its potential, it’s been eight years and not a whole lot has changed. I finally cancelled my account this past year, but I’d be happy to have reason to reactivate it. I doubt it will be free, but I wish Apple would consider a free or discounted subscription with new hardware purchases. Or throw it in with AppleCare.

If there’s going to be an iTunes subscription streaming service, I think Apple would save that sort of announcement for a late-summer special event. It would be a huge thing for students going back to school, but there’s not much to offer developers in locked down streaming media.

Computers? Oh yeah, those…

Quite a lot of Apple hardware has gone stale, especially the Mac Pro which has gone 15 months since its last revision, but also iMac and Mac Mini, both models are 8 months old. This is a complete hunch, but I suspect the Mac Pro will see a new, much smaller form factor. Also, lots of people are still waiting for a new giant Apple display.

If there are hardware announcements, the entirety of the announcement will take less than 10 minutes.

Apple’s got something up their sleeve and Jobs’ said we “won’t be disappointed.” It feels pretty exciting this year, perhaps because there wasn’t the massive rumor buildup to be letdown about. Looking forward to it.


About that tablet…

Posting this before the big announcement tomorrow.

It feels somewhat obvious at this point, but I feel certain Apple with continue the iPhone’s conceptual move towards subordinate computing devices. The original iPod was a deliberate appliance, the iPhone is a computer limited by design. The biggest conceptual leap of the iPhone was that it couldn’t be used to create another iPhone. Even a years-old, bottom-end Mac or PC can still run software capable of designing microchips, programming an OS or running the CNC machines which fabricate the computer’s physical components. The iPhone and forthcoming tablet are more like electronic familiars. Without their master device, they’re forever limited in what they can do and become.

Jason Snell feels right on about resurrecting the iBook name and brand. “Canvas” sounds more like an app.

The price will either be $799 or $1199. $899 psychologically goes right to $1000 and if you’re over $1000, might as well go a little higher.

Hardware

There are several obvious components which will be present. GPS, accelerometer and vibration. I still don’t understand why my laptop doesn’t know where it is. It’s 2010, every moderately connected electronic device should have basic location awareness.

Size-wise, I’ll be surprised if the screen is much larger than 9 inches diagonal. I base that figure on an expectation that the short dimension of the tablet will not be much wider than an iPhone is tall, so overall dimensions around 4.25 x 7.5 inches. However, all size-predictions go out the window if Apple introduces some radical new input method.

The idea that it might not have a text-input interface is just dumb, it has to have some means of text input. The bigger question is what that interface will look or feel like. Simplest answer is the iPhone’s horizontal keyboard.

I don’t expect a user-facing camera, no one looks good photographed looking up from their own lap.

Dock connecter and headphone jack will the the only ports. Power, home button and volume will be the only physical interfaces.

Mostly though, I really hope Apple does something completely shoot-the-moon crazy. Word-keyboards instead of letters, or no keyboard at all. Make it round. Linked physical-virtual application rotation, screens with holes in them. Just something completely wild and new.

Connectivity:

Apple has no reason to abandon AT&T, they’re the perfect scapegoat. Should AT&T botch this too, then Apple opens up to other carriers. Should AT&T admit their networks are overwhelmed, then Apple opens up to other carriers. Either way, Apple puts the final nail in AT&T’s coffin. That’s good chess.

Apps and OS

iTunes App store only. All iPhone apps will work. There will be no windowing model like OS X, everything will be iPhone-style full screen apps. There won’t be a separate OS or SDK. iPhone OS 4 will be announced, but tablet development will be a checkbox in Xcode. Apple won’t have an SDK available on day one. As long as iPhone apps display well on the tablet, we’ll probably have to wait for WWDC to get the updated SDK. There’s no way developers are going to get a software tablet simulator before Apple ships the product. One other loosely connected thought; WWDC will see a unified SDK for iPhone, tablet and OS X. “All for one and one for all.”

No new iPhone will be announced, as that would detract from the main focus of the event. Whenever the new iPhone does appear, which I’m confident will be sometime before Summer, it will have a higher resolution display. The Android phones raised the bar on screen quality, Apple will match or beat them. There’s an outside chance for new iLife/iWork suites, but unless they’re somehow integrated with the new device, those aren’t happening either.

Flash

No chance in hell.

Post-mortem

Apple has posted the full announcement video.(Tech Specs)

Initially I was somewhat disappointed, but that’s starting to wear off as the reality sets in. Not just the reality of what the iPad is, but the universe it will live in.

Apple’s new A4 CPU is a very big deal, but the price was a biggest surprise. And it wasn’t just me, look at what Steve Jobs did to the S&P today:

S&P reversal after iPad price announced

The red line is the price trend before Apple’s price announcement, the green line is the trend after the announcement. Moments before the price was revealed, something caused the market to start tanking, that was stopped cold as soon as the numbers hit the screen.

Predicton-wise, I think I did fairly well. I was right about Apps, but not SDK availability. Very happily wrong about price but right about AT&T. Right about the camera and inputs, but wrong about the dimensions. I am really surprised it’s 4:3, that ratio feels so quaint.

There are some radical changes to the Cocoa Touch Human Interface Guidelines. I’m very curious to see how these changes transition to iPhone, and whether or not those changes will only possible on an iPhone screen with an increased pixel density.

One nice little thing I noticed at around 17 minutes into the video was a two-word contextual correction — haven’t seen that mentioned.

I really hope some of the UI stuff happening with Calendar and Mail find their way into 10.7.

I think my mom might be ditching her Kindle.


WWDC 2009 Predictions

There’s been a lot of stuff going on in my life this year, and I haven’t had much time to prepare for WWDC or even really to think about it before getting here. But I’ve posted my predictions for the past handful of years so I jotted some thoughts down on the plane. I haven’t been keeping up with the rumors, so these are quite literaly pulled out of thin air. This is last minute again, I’m posting this from the keynote line. I’ll update with right/wrong and clean up typos after the show.

Snow Leopard

Apple will claim they lied last year they said Snow Leopard would have “no new features.” They’ll probably position it as “this was just too cool not to put in.” What we’ll see will be a radical rethinking of elements of the OS X Interface. The team who built the iPhone UI will have been brought back to the OS group to work their magic on Mac OS. The features may not be ready yet and might not be included in the developer build, but it will be demoed and highly publicized. (just don’t call it leopard skin) Possible strategies include something like “the iPhone was built with the best of Mac OS X, now we’re bringing the best of iPhone back to the Mac.” [wrong, but probably just too early]

The total re-thinking of the window menu bar in the Safari beta and elements of the iLife interface (hopefully the less infuriating subset) will prove to have been a hint of what’s coming. Aside from revamping the appearance and function of interface windows, I expect some sort of real-time text suggestion/correction system similar to the iPhone’s inline typing corrections.

We still won’t get true resolution independence. I really want to run at AppleDisplayScaleFactor 0.8, but it doing so breaks all sorts of little things around the system. [seems right, but we’ll see]

Hardware

New iPhones will be announced and demoed, but they won’t be available for a month or two. A lot of iPhone 3.0 is known already, but one thing we might see is some sort of demonstration where the iPhone becoming an auxiliary input and display device for nearby macs. Sort of like Remote but more functional. [right on iPhones] [wrong on timing]

I’m doubtful about any new hardware, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see a small upgrade to portables coupled with a simplified portable product line. The distinction between MacBook and MacBook Pro has gotten really fuzzy. [right on new iPhones]

Portables will also be acquiring location-awareness through a basic GPS chip. If they don’t, I’ll just repeat this one for the next Apple product announcement and for every subsequent announcement until it comes true. It is insane that any portable computing device doesn’t know where it is. [still wrong, so I’ll be trotting this out again next time]

No tablets or Netbooks. Though everyone will be talking in hushed whispers about their hackintoshes. [right, too easy]

I’d be terrified to bring a hacked-Mac netbook to WWDC, but someone, possibly quite a few, will. I have to leave the conference early this year to attend a wedding, I will be starting a rumor that Apple saw my hacBook and threw me out of Moscone for running Mac OS X on non-apple hardware. [right. I saw many netbooks, though only one guy dumb ballsy enough to run Mac OS X on his]

Jobs is the elephant in the room. Everyone seems to expect some sort of appearance. I don’t think he’ll be here, but if he does appear it will be either via video iChat or there will be a video letter/statement. Either one of those will be an unintentionally hilarious recreation of the 1984 Apple ad. [too much waffling on my part to call this either way]


WWDC 08 wrapup

WWDC 08 was incredible. While the iPhone gold rush euphoria contributed, everything just seemed especially good this year.

I’ve been quietly disappointed in Leopard since it shipped. It just seemed too rough around the edges and somewhat rushed, especially compared to the polish demonstrated by the iPhoneOS. Because of that, I’m probably more excited about Snow Leopard than I was about Leopard. Besides the promise of generally improving the overall experience, the under-the-hood OpenCL and “Grand Central” additions are truly revolutionary advances for desktop OSs. The idea behind OpenCL being able to utilize the largely untapped parallel processing power of the GPU has the potential to radically reorganize the entire idea of computing, moving things distinctly towards a brain-like collection of specialized processing units. I’ve been joking this is OS X SP1 but that’s just not true, Apple is mainlining some serious innovation into the backend of Snow Leopard and this should be a very, very good release.

My plan for this year worked very well. I managed to set aside the week prior to essentially cram on Cocoa and Objective-C. While that was originally supposed to be three weeks, the time I eeked out still helped a great deal. I also maintained a very disciplined focus about which sessions I went to. In the past I’ve flitted around trying to get a taste of every subject that interested me — which is almost everything. This year’s deliberate focus and pre-study nearly eliminated the blank-stare drift I’d experienced in the past and left me feeling more confident than ever about building stuff with Cocoa, writing FXPlugs and making things for iPhone.

But far and away the best thing about this year was the people. Twitter made a lot of this possible by starting conversations beforehand. I think I probably met half my twitterstream in person, which was awesome and kind of funny. The social dynamic of first meeting twitterers is sort of one where everyone treats everyone else like a celebrity. It ended up being this wonderful abstracted feeling of recognition which wasn’t nearly as creepy as it sounds like it would be. My only regret is not meeting the handful of people I knew were there but never crossed paths with.

There are just too many people to call out, but I was blown away by just about everyone I met.


Really last minute WWDC predictions

Short this year, but I wanted to get something up.

  • New iPhone demo
  • iPhone not immediately available
  • 10.6 demo. No, this isn’t 10.5 SP1 (really!)
  • No new MacBook Pro, much as I want one
  • A cleaner architectural re-alignment of OS X from a developer perspective
  • Twitter will melt
  • AAPL will be up at the end of the day
  • I don’t see how they can launch the store until next week. Half the people here would be immediately flooded with support and administrative requests. There will be pre-launch resources available, but the store won’t launch right away.

    10.5 is great, but there are a lot of rough edges. The rumors about 10.6 being previewed are probably true, but I don’t think this will be a $129 upgrade. This will essentially be Service Pack 1. Apple isn’t Adobe, they won’t charge money to fix things that are broken.

    Twitter is going to add such a bizarre additional layer to this.

    And we’re walking in… or at least closer.


MacWorld 07 Predictions

Update: Wow, was I ever wrong about this one. Predictions are marked for accuracy below, thoughts are over here, this one is long enough already.

Below are my predictions and hopes for MWSF 2007.

iPhone

[Wrong] Not happening. This whole subject can very credibly be called a case of mass hysteria. While there is no doubt Apple is more than technically and creatively capable of creating a dream phone, there are just too many externally limiting factors for this product to succeed. Apple does not have the political resources to overcome the barriers currently in place.

Consider what a miserable experience it is to get cell service for one or two people, imagine what would be required to secure hassle-free access for millions of customers. Especially when you’re entering in to the agreement with a pitch like, “We need to use your network for our new phone. You don’t get to brand the connection or and you’ll have no input on service plans. Your phones are horrible and we’re about to make them look worse. And no, you can’t sell our phone because your customer service model sucks. We’re also working with your largest competitors so don’t screw us or we’ll cut you loose before you can say Zune.”

Besides the need to rise above the customer-hostile cellular phone marketspace, Apple would also likely be looking to leverage their other technologies, especially wifi [wrong]. Domestic cellular carriers are threatened by DIY ringtones, wifi internet phones are the beginning of the end of their entire industry.

Additionally, Apple doesn’t appear to have a presence at CES. Not that they need it, but it would seem that a phone would benefit from getting seen in person and CES is significantly larger than MacWorld with a lot more media. However the iTV would also seem to be a CES product, though the buzz on this seems to be strangely muted.

The outlier is an unlocked phone [wrong]. In the US, no one has really done this, but if Apple was to succeed with an unlocked phone it could dramatically reshape the US cellular phone space. Personally, I don’t think the risk level is something Apple wants to wade into.

Considering the buzz on this, Apple’s stock is going to get hammered if there’s no phone, despite record laptop sales in Q4 2006 [sort of inversely right?].

I’m feeling about 90% certain these people are going to look silly. Unless I’m the one looking silly — as I run gleefully to the Apple Store to buy my new phone. [wrong, but I have until June to run there]

Mac Pros

[Wrong] Even though the Mac Pro is barely four months old, Intel’s quad-core chips are here and are pin-compatible with the dual-core chips currently in use. Switching to the new chips requires Apple do little more than print new stickers for the boxes. Eight cores should be shipping by February.

The pending release of Adobe’s CS3 (see below) makes me feel confident about this one. [wrong]

Leopard

We’ll get a release date for 10.5, I’m guessing sometime around March 1. [wrong]

The “Top Secret” features will be demonstrated. Developers will likely get a new seed with those features included. [wrong]

If ZFS is mentioned at all, it will likely be nothing more than a bullet point. A handful of people will cheer as if they just found religion.

Some iChat or wireless feature will be demonstrated with Phil Schiller. This is a lock. Everyone loves Phil Schiller. [right! x2]

Adobe

I was wrong about this at WWDC, but I think it’ll happen this time.

Either Adobe will demo CS3 on Intel during the Keynote or Quark will be invited onstage to show off XPress

[Nope, still wrong] Now, with the public Photoshop CS3 beta, I think there’s a very good chance Adobe will be onstage for a demo, showing CS2 on a G5 vs CS3 on one of the new 8-core Mac Pros. The Mac Pros will be, of course, silly-fast. Possibly a release date, probably April. Not much applause since everyone wants it yesterday. (I hope I’m wrong on this, Photoshop CS3 is very polished and very fast, we need inDesign.)

Airport and 802.11n

[Right: New Airport] [wrong, not a complete refresh] A complete refresh for the Airport product line bringing it up to 802.11n. Who doesn’t want more dependable wireless that’s 10 to 50 times faster? Apple’s been shipping 802.11n compatible hardware for a few months already and any potential success of the iTV thing will depend on better wireless internet. I wonder how they’ll handle upgrades for soldered on wireless like first-gen MacBook Pros?

The new Airports will be tightly integrated with iTV and may include a more direct gateway to the iTunes store. [wrong]

HD

The lack of a widely adopted HD disc format is hampering the transition to HD. A wedding videographer has to either invest in both authoring systems at huge cost or choose one; their customers would be risking locking their memories into what could be an obsolete format. The cost of Blu-Ray and HD-DVD drives is still stupid-expensive, but I could see Apple pushing to get some HD disc players and burners into their hardware. Unless they’re just going to give up on the HD format wars altogether and push iTunes as the real HD successor to the DVD. It’s probably too early for that, more home connections need to be upgraded, or at least have the option of upgrading, before that can happen. Besides, people still want to be able to share their own movies. [wrong]

Expect some sort of HD option in iTunes because of iTV. [astonishingly wrong]

iTV (or whatever it’ll be called)

I’m confused as to why people aren’t talking about this more. Maybe, like me, it just doesn’t seem that exciting. Expect 802.11n networking [right]. Since everything Apple sells online is pumped through Akamai, the speculation about an integrated BitTorrent client seems silly (even ignoring the movie studio aneurysms) [right].

iLife

[Wrong] I’m not expecting any new applications, though we’ll probably see a move toward the iTunes interface styling for the whole suite. Maybe AVCHD support for iMovie (and everything else via Quicktime), but that might be dreaming. I just want movies to share like photos and play in iPhoto slideshows. I like the idea of using iPhoto as a visual memory manager for your whole life.

iWork

[Wrong] The addition of a spreadsheet application makes sense for iWork. Hopefully Apple will rethink that category in the same way they approached Pages and produce something which focuses on producing great looking charts and graphs. Think Secret’s iWork screenshot is sort of hilarious, partly because it’s so ridiculously simple, and partly because that’s what the application could very well look like. However, while everything could be handled through floating palettes, that screenshot just seems to plain to be functional.

Hardcore number crunchers won’t be leaving Excel, but some sort of network data integration along with a well-defined scripting interface could open up some interesting possibilities for working with tabular data in new ways.

[Wrong] If the opening of the keynote contains a lot of charts and graphs, then this product is a lock. After introducing iWork 07, Steve will point out that all charts in his presentation were created with the new tools. This is a good thing since the 3d charts in iWork 06 are usually ineffective at communicating data and horrible looking.

.Mac

[Wrong] Something has to be done about .Mac. The only reason I renewed this year was because I use the account for iChat and sharing household calendars and didn’t have time to transition those features to other services and options. At very least, .Mac should include a full QuickTime Pro license. Well over a third of all bad email addresses from Joe’s Filters users are mac.com addresses; people who were using .Mac and quit.

Displays

[Wrong] Probably new displays with integrated iSight cameras. There is the outside chance that the pixel density could be increased in anticipation of Leopard’s resolution independence.

Surprises

[Wrong] There is still a ton of demand for a small laptop to replace the 12″ PowerBook. Apple must know about this. I can’t see Apple releasing a computer without a DVD drive because the psychology of it becomes too cumbersome. So that probably tosses out the sub-notebook form factor. However, there’s quite a bit of air inside a MacBook Pro and using the smaller iPod sized hard drive might be a possibility.

[Right!] No tablets. Too small a market and they’re just not that fun to use.

Stevenf’s razor

Panic’s Steven Frank shares a strategy for evaluating Apple related rumors:

Does the rumor contain the phrase “stripped-down version of Mac OS X”? If so, the rumor is almost certainly false.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow.