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Cheers and Jeers from Apple’s WWDC 2011 Keynote.

Arrrggh! It’s good to be a Pirate.

Steve Jobs continues to prove his idiom: Why join the navy when you can be a pirate. The “new” Notifications Center is inspired and pirated from Android’s notification system. Safari’s Reading List functionality mirrors those of Instapaper, Readablity, and Read it Later.  The new search capabilities in Mail emulate Gmail and the reading experience borrows from Sparrow. Of course the Apple design philosophy in almost all cases greatly improves upon anything that inspired them. There are a host of other “new” features from Apple that can be added to the pirate list.

Life on the Delta.

iOS in a PC and cable free world is great and is made possible by the key usablity improvement of delta updates.  What that means is no more massive 1/2 GB downloadsα to update your iPad or iPhone.  Now let’s hope the same applies to iTunes itself.  It’s interesting that the staple Mac apps have not been migrated into the app store but the OS update itself has, but maybe this is yet to come when Lion is released.  No matter what, Apple has solved one of the biggest problems of its iOS ecosystem.

Double Entendre of Usability.

More multitouch, full screen apps, and death to the scroll bar all add great usability experiences and continue to push the evolution of the GUI forward.  But why in the world are the new calendar and address booked designed to look like my Franklin planner from the 90’s!?!  Why are pictures on my computer held up by onscreen paper clips?!?  This retrograde in design choices makes no sense coming from Apple.

These are digital calendars and address books the UI’s should not be stuck with all the short comings of the offline world.  I expected more from you Apple. There are probably a significant and ever growing number of Apple product users who have no idea what a desktop planner or physical address book even looks like in the real world, but are forced to use UI analogies to a physical real world experience they have never had.

Planned Modernity.

Planned obsolescence isn’t Apple’s game. Instead they have perfected a form of technological Chinese water torture. Starve your users of the features they want the most and then slowly release them over the next few years. This is how Apple gets people to applaud the addition of flagging email messages as a feature. But it is interesting when Apple does cave into consumer demand for a feature. The way they present their appreciation for customer feedback is almost mocking.

You wanted feature X and now we have deemed you worthy to have it. No matter what, all we are left with is to applaud and be thankful for features we craved years ago. This also relates to my first point about pirating, a good idea is introduced by an App developer, the app is rejected by Apple, then Apple adds the featureβ.

Rain Delay for Google and Amazon due to iCloud..

Apple continues to trick their competitors to show up to the wrong game.  The industry was touting netbooks and Apple was focused on the iPad.  The same kind of playing field seems to be shaping up when it comes to the cloud and browsers.  Google and much of the start-up world is so focused on turning the browser into an OS, yet Apple’s iCloud strategy completely ignores the browser from having anything to do with achieving the right usability for a cloud solution.

Steve Jobs even took a jab at Amazon and Google for thinking that anyone would want to play or manage their music collection in the browser.  Apple’s approach to the cloud is spot on with the design thinking that a cloud solution needs, starting with Dropbox’s approach and taking it to the next level. As we have come to expect from Apple, “It just works”.

App Curation.

Apple is starting to think of ways to address the problem that 425,000 apps create. It’s too many apps for anyone to process and kills discoverability. What they started to create with iOS 5 are niche app stores. In addition to the iBooks store we now have Newsstand for newspapers/magazine and games right in the Game Center. I suspect we will continue to see more from Apple in order to help consumers navigate the mind numbing number of available Apps and facilitate curation and discovery of Apps.

Steve Who? Building Investor Confidence.

Similar to the Planned Modernity I talked about above, we see a slow trickle of Apple executives taking the stage. This is obviously tied to investor confidence in Apple as Steve continues to struggle with his health. Apple is amazing at this just noticeable difference with each keynote presentation. At this point I even expect and prefer my iOS keynote updates to come from Scott Forstall.


Will the real Steve Jobs please stand up? 

Even the picture on the Apple’s homepage linking to the keynote video has a picture of Steve Jobs, Philip Schiller, and Scott Forstall on it, not just Steve Jobs as the lone technology and design messiah from Cupertino.


  1. The iOS 5 beta clocks in at 736 MB

  2. Scott Forstall alluded to this with a hard-to-make-out comment during the keynote along the lines of poking fun at the usability issue of using the volume button to take a picture, he said “Use the shutter button to turn your volume up”, jokingly.  Almost something akin to telling people to push the ‘Start’ button in Windows XP to ‘Shutdown’ the computer.