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WWDC is Over

Entry 794, on 2008-06-15 at 06:22:12 (Rating 1, Computers)

The Apple World Wide Developers' Conference 2008 is finally over and I'm waiting at San Francisco airport for the 12 hour flight back to Auckland, New Zealand, followed by another 1 hour flight to Dunedin (not much fun). I have a couple of hours free, so a catch-up on my blog seems like a good idea. So what were my observations and thoughts regarding the conference this year?

Well for a start, global communications is here... almost. Some of my communications experiences were good and some were not quite so good.

Maybe the most impressive example started with an email I got while at the conference which said that a backup server was misbehaving. During a quiet part of the sessions I was in I established a wireless connection to the Internet, then opened a secure session back to Otago University, then controlled the screen of the computer using VNC. I got acceptably fast screen redrawing even though the machine I was controlling was half way around the world! Oh, and I fixed the server, of course.

Another good experience was my cell phone. Its a Vodafone New Zealand GSM phone and it just picked up an American network and worked fine. So I was happy with that aspect of communications too.

But I think the least impressive was my attempt to Skype to my family back home. I set up two computers before I left and they seemed to work OK, but when I tried to communicate from San Francisco various problems occurred. On one computer I could hear but not see them and they could see but not hear me! I had to reply with gestures and typed messages. It was quite weird really, like having lost the ability to speak. The other machine was even worse because the audio quality was really poor and there was no video (they could see and hear me though).

The last WWDC I went to was just over 10 years ago and the only communications I had there was to establish a telnet session and check my mail remotely through a text terminal! Speaking, viewing video, or controlling a graphical interface computer over the internet back then was unthinkable! So things have progressed. And Skype might have worked too if I had been more careful with the setup - but it usually just works, so I didn't think I needed to do too much testing.

What about the conference itself? Well Apple are pushing the iPhone hard. They certainly haven't forgotten about the Mac and its still their main platform, but the iPhone is really up there on their list or priorities. Maybe it will be another huge success like the iPod.

Another trend is minimising the line between on and off-line data. Web applications will be the next big thing, I think. Web based services will work even when you have no Internet connection (they'll sync with the server when they can), and applications which were usually local will become more Internet-centric (if they aren't already). This will apply to computers and phones (and future products which might be a combination of the two).

The general standard of both traditional and web-based applications will increase through consumer pressure. People will expect and demand high quality software with well designed user interfaces. This must be good for Apple because its something they seem to do better than anyone else. Yes, things are looking good. I just need the time to learn these new technologies and techniques, and start making cool stuff myself!

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