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WWDC 2006 Keynote Impressions

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Now that they dust has settled a bit from yesterday's keynote, I think it's time to give my opinions of it. First of all, it seems that the general consensus is disappointment. Speculated products weren't announced, and neither were some of the speculated Leopard features.


Part of the problem might be our mindset. It's easy to think that the Worldwide Developer's Conference is for consumers. While consumers certainly benefit from the conference, the main focus is developers. If you look at it from that sense, Apple delivered everything developers wanted. They released professional-grade machines and showed off features of Leopard which are important to developers. Leopard features like a new Finder or virtualization technology are things which can be added later with very little effect on developers, and the existing Macs can easily get a Core 2 speed bump with just a simple press release.


The Hardware


Now that we're in the right mindset, it's time to talk about what was announced. Apple released some amazing new hardware. The Mac Pros are insane powerhouses, with the Xserves getting a huge speed bump over previous hardware. While I won't be purchasing a Mac Pro, the prices are perfect. Apple's standard configuration is perfect for just about anyone's needs, and it doesn't break the bank either. What's even better is the price when you downgrade some components. If you change the dual 2.5 GHz processors to dual 2.0 GHz processors and only get a 160 GB hard drive, combined with the student discount, it's only $1950. That's not bad at all considering a slower MacBook Pro is right around that price.


Finally, I'm very impressed with Apple's build-to-order options on their new machines. Apple has always stuck with pretty much standard configurations across their product line since there wasn't very many options with the PowerPC chip. Now that Apple is on the x86 platform, they have a more room for flexibility, which is showing through in the amount of configurable options on the new machines. I'm looking forward to seeing what other options Apple will provide for their other machines in the future.




While nothing too groundbreaking was announced with Leopard, I'm still very exited. First of all, I can't wait for Time Machine. I don't backup enough, and when I do backup, I don't have a great method. I'm dragging files to an external drive or CD, just like Steve Jobs mentioned. Having a Subversion-like solution for OS X will just be amazing. There have been times where I have accidentally overwritten files, so selective restoring will be perfect for me. There has also been times where I've wanted to do a complete restore, so that functionality of Time Machine will rock also. Apple seems to have created the perfect backup solution for anyone with external storage.


The other major feature that Apple has announced is Spaces. I'm not too excited about Spaces at all. I've always found multiple desktops confusing, so it's a feature I probably won't be using. However, Apple does seem to have a couple of great ways to try and prevent it from getting confusing. Spaces exposé seems like a great way to easily see where everything is, and if you're really lost, clicking on the application's dock icon is perfectly for jumping to the "space" which contains that application. Maybe Apple's approach will finally get me to use multiple desktops, but for now, I'm not jumping for joy.


Finally, hearing about updates to Mail, iCal, Spotlight, Dashboard, iChat, Front Row, and Boot Camp is certainly getting me excited. I've tried Apple's Mail in the past, and never could switch to it. This upcoming version looks like it will finally bring me onboard. In regards to iCal, that's another application which I haven't really touched. Depending on how well it integrates with Mail, I might find myself using that application also.


Advanced searching and application launching with Spotlight is something that should have been there from the beginning, so it will be a welcome addition. The new ways to create widgets are looking great for Dashboard, especially how easy it will be for anyone to create a widget. The new iChat also sounds great, especially sporting its new Unified interface. From the previews of it, it looks like it will finally have a combined buddy list for different services, a welcome addition. Finally, while we don't know what's coming for Front Row and Boot Camp, just hearing that they're going to be updated is music to my ears.




While this year's WWDC Keynote was a disappointment for many people following the rumor sites, if you were trying to stick with reality, I think it was perfect. The new professional-grade hardware is blowing the competition away at a cheaper price, and Leopard's new features are already ahead of Vista. Things are only going to get better from here.


Apple has laid the frameworks for a great operating system, and when they report on Leopard at Macworld in January, I'm sure they're going to have some more great features and enhancements to tell us about.

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