Thoughts on Apple's WWDC 2011 Keynote
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 10:00PM
Matthew Kopelke in Gadgets

Apple recently opened the curtain on the latest developments in its operating system world, and while I am no big fan of Apple by any stretch of the imagination, whenever they make an announcement I try to follow what is said. This is mostly to see what Microsoft’s biggest competitor is up to, but also because of how much industry-wide influence Apple have (for better or for worse, you can decide). Their annual WWDC is usually where the next generation iPhone is announced, and while there was no iPhone 5 announcement this year (latest rumours suggest that will be coming in September), a visibly ill Steve Jobs took to the stage to unveil the latest version of Mac OS X, code named Lion, along with iOS 5 and their latest attempt at a cloud computer service, iCloud (replacing the disaster that was MobileMe). So was what they announced as revolutionary and magical as indicated?

Mac OS X Lion: Despite Apple’s best claims, and having used Mac OS X myself on several occasions, it is by no means an easier-to-use or more secure alternative to Windows. And while with Lion Apple are taking the same strategy as Microsoft, and bringing over some of the most iconic elements of their mobile operating system to the desktop version, Lion is not as revolutionary as Windows 8 is likely to be. Unless, of course, you feel that having a massive 17” - 30” screen filled with a grid of icons is somehow a dyanamic new paradigm of desktop interaction. Still, the new Full Screen application mode seems quite interesting (if only because I do find the regular Mac OS X interface to be so boring), and it’s good to see Apple bring their App Store concept to the desktop. But really, Apple are just flashing up what is already a mature operating system. I just wish they’d be more honest about it.

iOS 5: iOS continues to march forward with relentless pace, and it’s here that I do believe Apple are doing the most interesting things - even if almost all of the new features are borrowed from either Android, Windows Phone, or Blackberry. The new Android-esque Notification Centre seems long overdue, but hardly new. I like the idea of iMessage, but I do think it’s not as effective as what Windows Phone is doing with its Messaging application now integrating SMS / MMS, Live Messenger chats, and Facebook messages into a single per-user stream. Twitter integration seems like a no-brainer, although the lack of Facebook love seems odd. But I think the most impressive element I found in the iOS announcement was the new “PC Free” mantra, something I loved about Windows Phone, and is very overdue on iOS. Whichever way you cut it, though, Apple still lead the way on mobile devices.

iCloud: OK, so it was super easy to bitch about Apple and their complete inability to get cloud computing when one referenced the disaster that was MobileMe. This was for two reasons - one was that it barely worked, and two was that you had to pay for a non-functional service. Thankfully, iCloud fixes one of those problems, being almost free (unless you pay $25 a year for the iTunes Match service). The actual feature set seems quite impressive, and I do like the notion that whether you own an iOS or Mac OS X device, they will all stay in perfect sync for things like photos, documents, contacts and email. While users of Android and Windows Phone have had these features essentially since their respective platforms launched, I do have to give Apple credit for bringing everything together into a single elegant solution. Let’s just hope that it actually works as advertised, eh?

Overall, this was one of the more impressive WWDC keynotes that I’ve seen. Certainly iCloud was the highlight of the three major announcements, even if I am unconvinced that this won’t be another MobileMe. Apple also used the launch of iOS 5 to further cement their position as the company to go to for the most consumer-focussed and consistently reliable mobile operating system available, even if on features alone I do think Android beats them and Windows Phone is more leading-edge in terms of raw user experience. My only regret with the keynote was that Apple continue to talk rubbish about how amazing and successful Mac OS X is. It’s hardly the easiest to use, it’s hardly the most secure, and despite all of this, it still hasn’t managed to crack double digits in terms of actual end-user usage share. The sooner Apple go iOS only is the day they become truly competitive.

Article originally appeared on The Sunday Talk (
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