WWDC 2010 Journal, Day 1

Tuesday, June 08, 2010 at 7:45 AM

By Mike Morton, Google Mac Team

Google engineer Mike Morton is doing his annual blogging from Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco. Today we get Mike's insights on WWDC keynote day, with all the fun and reality distortion it brings.

It’s 10 PM Monday. I’ve had six hours sleep in the last 48 hours and am verging on delirium, but it’s a happy kind of delirium. I got a good dose of Reality Distortion today (“a few molecules of Steve Jobs” as one developer said as he settled in for the keynote).

Waiting for the keynote, we got to listen to music, including Satchmo’s Wonderful World, and watch on the big screen as the camera focused on various audience members. Audience folks quickly caught on to the idea that if you put an interesting message on your iPad screen, the camera would find you. The big screen showed iPads saying “This is not a PC”, a New Zealand (I think) flag, “Hi Mom!”, “Free Hugs”, and “Thank you, Steve”. There was one with a job posting for AOL, complete with a Twitter account to contact. Best of all was a set of four iPads spelling W - W - D - C, with the C taking a little extra time to get ready, and the audience cheering when it did. Perhaps presaging the mobile device emphasis of the keynote, one laptop screen just said “MACS TOO!”.

Steve walked on to the usual wild applause and camera frenzy. He looked very thin, but very happy. As he usually does, he began with numbers: the number of developers attending and how many countries they're from (5,200 and 57) and the number of days it took to sell out the conference (8 despite the fact that "this is the biggest place we can get!"). He talked about the iPad working its magic on sales numbers, and the large numbers of iPad-native apps, as opposed to iPhone apps which work on the iPad in a compatibility mode.

You’ve probably read a lot about the keynote already, so here are some moments that stood out for me:

Steve talked about the App Store. He indirectly addressed complaints about apps being rejected or waiting for approval, listing various good reasons that apps have problems, although some in the audience thought the list of reasons provided might be incomplete.

He invited three iPhone developers up to talk about their products: NetFlix, Zynga (the Farmville folks), and Activision, whose Guitar Hero demo was slick. He wrapped up by telling us that the App Store has hit 5 billion downloads, and has paid $1 billion to developers. Carl Sagan would have been right at home with this billions and billions statistic.

Steve quickly moved to introducing iPhone 4. I was impressed by lots of things, especially the promise of apps that use the new gyroscope hardware. There’ll be some great virtual reality and augmented reality apps coming out of that. I was also intrigued by putting cellular, wifi, and other antennas into the metal around the edge of the case. I hope that’ll improve reception.

iMovie for iPhone looks cool, too, although as a cousin to Final Cut, I wish they had called it Final Tap. It could have gone to 11.

And then came the classic “One more thing”: FaceTime video calls. This is going to be huge. It’ll go viral, selling itself, because it’s so noticeable when someone is using it in public. Plus it’ll drive sales of nose-hair trimmers (note to self: invest now).

Steve showed a video of people talking with FaceTime. This included a very moving moment when a soldier saw his baby on ultrasound via FaceTime. Steve said something I’ve heard him say before: "This is one of those moments that reminds us why we do what we do".

The keynote conspicuously lacked any mention of Mac OS X. Apple may be looking toward the “post-PC era” and even hastening it, but let's hope they don't forget “MACS TOO” any time soon.

For the rest of the day, sitting in darkened lecture rooms was proving too much of a challenge for my jet lag, so I left before the last session. As I walked out, I saw an attendee with a t-shirt reading: “AppKit is the new Carbon”. For the non-geek among you, Carbon is an older system that developers used to program the Mac, and AppKit is the current system. You could say this was another way of declaring "MACS TOO!".