On Monday, I saw a tweet that said that WWDC is like the royal wedding for nerds, but honestly, I don’t think its a fair comparison. Because the royal wedding was full of pomp and circumstance and gave the world a spectacle worth marveling at… for about 3 hours, while this year’s WWDC has changed everything. Once the wedding was over, we all kind of shrugged and then went to have lunch, while the effects of this years WWDC will become ingratiated into the lives of hundreds of millions on daily basis.
The first update was Apple’s response to Blackberry’s BBM which controls the market of mobile messaging, iMessage.
Most iPhone users have WhatsApp in order to send texts over Wi-Fi and 3G, it paled in comparison to the sleekness of the user interface and reliability of BBM. iMessage appears to have pretty much everything BBM does; group chats, multimedia messaging and the ability to track both delivery of the message and notification that the recipient has read it. It is also going to be going through Apple’s secure servers which should result in reliable messaging.
The one downside of iMessage is, like BBM, not cross-platform. Meaning to chat to your buddy over iMessage they will need an iOS device (iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch) as well. While in the states and most of Europe this isn’t an issue as iPhones are as common as water, we must remember that we live in Africa and water is scarce. A ton of iPhones have been sold in South Africa, but it is unlikely they have reached the critical mass required for the success of their proprietary messaging service.
The next major update, and without a doubt the most necessary one, is iOS’s notification system. An interesting fact is, Apple hired the developer who created the notification system for the Jailbroken iOS devices to develop the new system, in house.
Text’s, calendar reminders, emails, FaceBook notifications, Twitter @replies and now iMessages no longer pop up in the middle of the screen, pausing whatever you are doing, when received. They now show up as subtle pop-ups at the top of the screen, that disappear if left ignored. These notifications can all be viewed, along with the weather and stock updates, in the Notification Center. This is accessed by sliding your finger down from the top of the screen. (Yes, like Android) Although it took a long time for Apple to foray into the market, they seem to have been taking their time in order to get it right.
The camera functionality was the feature to receive an update. There is now a camera button on the lock screen so you will never have to miss another photo opportunity as you were too busy finding the camera app. A neat little feature is the ‘volume up’ button becomes a shutter button. You can also edit and crop photos on the device, which is also pretty spiffy.
Safari has been beefed up with some tabbed browsing goodness, as well as allowing you to “save interesting articles to peruse later”, because if there is one thing Apple users love, its perusing. But seriously, that is a darn smart feature to have on the iPad, as it is essentially a device for media consumption.
Finally, and this is a truly important update, iOS devices now have the ability to sync with your Mac or PC over wireless, meaning that playlists, calendars and photos can be updated without having to attach devices with a cable.
So yes, the Royal Wedding was a fantastic spectacle, but WWDC is what really rocked. So, sorry Kate, but black turtleneck will beat white dress every time.
For a full list of updates to be found in iOS 5, Apple do a brilliant job on their website