The Keynote is a few hours past and my first impression is not a good one. “Weird” as one developer friend put it. “WTF are the secret features?” asked another. The Keynote felt like it was missing something. Simply put there was nothing spectacular. No hardware announcements, features mostly covered last year, very little for the developers in the crowd, and no iPhone SDK but rather a “compromise” billed as a great idea. You know it’s a bummer when the WWDC headlines run “Apple launches Windows browser” (BBC) and “Apple: Safari available to Windows users” (CNN). Is a Windows product the most exciting thing to come out of it?
The bulk of the keynote focused on Leopard, but Jobs announced very little that the Mac community didn’t already know about. New desktop? Hardly. Some changes and a few features. Improved Finder? Granted there are some neat additions here, Cover Flow for your files, Quick look and better network connectivity with other Macs, but basically it’s the same old Finder, not an “all-new” one advertised at the new Apple website.
Kudos to the subtle design changes though. The Finder *does* look better. Love the unified window look. Folder icons have been redesigned as well as icons for common file types. The side bar looks great and seems a bit more functional, with quick access to smart folders, network devices, shared computers and so on.
The most surprising announcement was Safari for Windows. I get the feeling this is part of a long term plan that isn’t immediately apparent. I’m really curious what’s happening behind the scenes for this to work. Did Apple port WebKit to Windows? If so, they may have needed to re-code a decent bit of Cocoa as well. Is Cocoa for Windows a long term goal?
Surely all of this is related to the iPhone announcement. Developers have been waiting for an iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK) since the device was first mentioned. Such a kit would allow programmers to write their own applications for the phone. In a post back in April I mentioned the lack of this possibility as a reason for my displeasure with the device.
Seen in this light Safari on Windows makes sense. It looks like Apple is moving to position itself as an internet leader, in terms of content distribution as well as consumption. With a Safari offering on Windows, web developers will be more inclined to create sites that display correctly and work completely in WebKit, Apple’s html rendering technology. This guarantees an easy transition to an iPhone targeted app. If it works in Safari, it’ll work on your iPhone.
Although there’s some neat stuff going on, and I’ll be writing about it later, all in all it was a keynote that didn’t leave me very excited. From my conversations with other developers it seems I’m not the only one feeling this way.