So Apple held their annual World Wide Developer Conference this week and as expected, there were some big announcements. No iPad 3 or iPhone 5, but Steve Jobs was there to unleash quite a few things. This post looks at some of the stuff from the WWDC that I find most interesting.
Because of some of the features that the new mobile OS brings to devices old and new, it was the biggest thing on the hit parade for me. The following were the things I am most excited about in the new OS:PC Free: With iOS 5 devices there is no need for a PC (sorry, I meant Mac) to get started. Boy is that handy. When I got the iPad I wasn't even able to play with it right away due to the requirement of a computer connection... for new iOS 5 devices, that will be a distant memory. Support for old and new: I don't have to get a new whatchamacallit to get iOS 5. There will be support and upgradeability for most devices. Because I haven't had the iPad all that long and am not sure I want to shell out for a new one soon, this is great. Wi-Fi Sync: Plugging in to sync only makes sense if you need to charge as well. Because I need to plug into my Mac to sync the items on my iPad, it doesn't happen all that often. When my devices share the same Wi-Fi network, the sync can happen across the network, making the odds that my stuff stays backed up much better.
iOS 5 wasn't the only thing on tap by any stretch of the imagination. The iCloud service was also quite interesting. Sure you can store tunes up in the cloud for what appears to be a load cheaper than other services, but you can also sync your application data to iCloud. This is a very interesting feature, but what about services like DropBox? Since most of my stuff lives there (at least the stuff that is to land on the iPad) why would I switch to iCloud for general use? Since I am not an iPod user, I will likely not use much in the way of iCloud. However it is about time that Apple managed to find their legs in terms of managing user data. Others are doing it and Mobile Me was just not that great. Hopefully this time they will have a useable service.
The other item in the Big 3 (sorry Miami Heat fans) was Mac OS X Lion. Sure there are many improvements, but the upgrade price of $29.99 and App Store availability was a hot item for me. Since the MacBook Pro was expensive enough (in comparison to any PC I have purchased recently), shelling out a load more money for an OS update would have been hard to swallow. Sure Windows is a large outlay when there are new releases, but I am one of those PC users who will get it working on an older laptop as long as possible.
Enough about the cost already, what about the goodies?Resume: Bring apps back to life right where they were left when you were interrupted by the need to update software. This feature will survive updating and upon restart, leave you right where you left off, not opening and chasing down what you were working on. Auto-Save: Being a huge fan of OneNote on the PC, the concept of auto save is a welcome addition. This allows OS X to handle the saving for you. Having lost a number of blog posts and other work on a computer because I just didn't hit the save button, this is something that makes OS X Lion worth the price of admission for me. Air Drop: Sharing files with anyone (using Air Drop) within 30 feet of you seems like a cool idea. Since the sharing happens from Mac to Mac without traversing wireless networks, this could be a great collaboration tool for Mac users. Lion Server: The configuration utilities in the Server App, allowing administrators to further manage connections and availability of services on the Mac Server also seems pretty well thought out. I know that many businesses will stick with Windows in the DataCenter, but I could see the server features in OS X being useful for a test environment, perhaps for a web server. Not to mention, the remote management via Profile Manager of iOS and OS X devices might be pretty useful for those environments where iOS devices have started making their way into business. Bottom Line
I think there were plenty of new features unveiled at WWDC even without new hardware (I wonder if there will be a chartreuse iPhone next). Because of some of the features like PC Free and syncing in iOS there may be some business users who will even further consider these devices. I am still not sure they will supplant the PC anytime soon, but being able to perform more tasks in your business life on all your devices, be they PC- or iOS-based certainly cant hurt.
Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.