Apple WorldWide Developers Conference: Much More to Come

By Graham K. Rogers



Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference opened last week in San Francisco. Steve Jobs began with his keynote speech and pointed out that during the week there would be 147 sessions: 85 on the Mac and 62 on the iPhone.

Jobs added that in the afternoon Bertrand Serlet would outline the next version of OS X, Snow Leopard. He provided no details, although there has been much speculation. A press release added some information.

He outlined iPhone 2.0 software, the developer program and Software Developer Kit (SDK). With enterprise software, the iPhone links to MS Exchange with push technology. We can view Word, Excel and Power Point files as well as iWork output. The iPhone now has Cisco secure VPN and secure services plus the ability to delete data remotely if the phone is lost: important for business and other security concerns.

Scott Forstall showed how the SDK allows a developer to build an application for the iPhone or Pod touch easily. The Interface Builder looks similar to the Dashcode widget builder that comes with the XCode tools. A 10-minute demo showed how easy it was to create an application on the Mac for the iPhone and then test it on the phone.

This was followed by several outlines of iPhone applications already created showing the great potential of the device: games (Sega and Pangea); eBay auction tracking, Loopt with social interaction software using the iPhone's new Core Location feature; mobile blogging from Type Pad; a well-received application called Band that played instruments on the phone from UK independent developer Mark Terry; Associated Press, who already have a web-app that I have been using on the iPod touch for a few weeks, have a free application.


Modality, and MIMVista developers of software for doctors, showed how valuable and varied the iPhone could be for medical personnel. Finally, a Spanish developer Xavier Costa showed Krull, an adventure game, that had been developed in only 2 weeks. The guest developers mentioned how easy and fast they had found the SDK was and how they enjoyed the development.


Scott Forstall quoted David Pogue, "You're witnessing the birth of a third major computer platform: Windows, Mac OS X, iPhone."

Steve Jobs mentioned the addition of contact searches. Also added were features to delete and mnove messages and to save images, although Cut and Paste are still not available. The calculator is improved: using landscape mode displays a scientific calculator. Parental controls are now included.

Language support includes Japanese and Chinese (we can draw characters with the finger). It is possible to switch between languages on the fly. Such additions are an advantage of not having plastic keys for the keyboard, Jobs claimed. But we still do not have Thai.

The iPhone software update will be free, while the iPod touch update is now $9.99. Even with the addition of several App Store locations (62) it is not clear yet how Thai users will purchase this upgrade.

Enterprises can develop and distribute software for the phones within their organisations. University teachers can distribute software to a maximum 100 iPhones. More information will be coming in future months.

Phil Schiller introduced the new "mobileme" (to replace .Mac). This reflects the move towards a version of cloud computing "for the rest of us". He showed several aspects of the tools available to Mac and iPhone users. It will cost $99 annually and there will be a 60-day free trial. It is not limited to iPhone users, and will be available for computers, including PCs.


The almost instant integration between the various applications on the Mac or PC, plus the push features, make this a worthwhile investment for those on the move who want data on several devices and in several locations.

Steve Jobs told the audience that 6 million iPhones had been sold until Apple ran out a few weeks ago, then announced the expected new version of iPhone -- iPhone 3G -- with Enterprise support and 3rd Party applicatons, plus GPS. Location data is taken from cell towers, WIFI and GPS. The iPhone now includes tracking so a journey can be followed as it is made.


More countries, will be added, Jobs said: "Believe me [iPhones] are in use in many more countries." The total planned is 70, including Hong Kong and Singapore.

The phone is thinner, with a plastic back, solid metal buttons and 3.5" display. It has flush headphone jacks and better audio. It is priced at $199 for the 8G version. The 16G iPhone is $299 with the choice of a white version.


Jobs compared downloads using EDGE and 3G where speeds approach wifi. He said it is "amazingly zippy" being 36% faster than the Nokia N95 and Treo 750, although the iPhone displays a full page. Battery life is a much improved 300 hours standby: 2G talktime 10 hours; 3G talktime 5 hours; browsing 5-6; video 7; and audio 24 hours.

The keynote speech, exciting as it was for device potential, offered little for local users although more announcements were expected in the following days. We can look forward to a new version of OS X sometime in the next year. It is clear that the full features now available on the iPhone demand considerably improved communications links and these are still in need of development here.


Made on Mac

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