So, what’s going on at WWDC?
iBooks is already being updated, sometime later this month. You can add notes, bookmark pages (instead of just text), and iBooks will read PDFs. Whether it will be able to recognize text in readable PDFs is another question, as is the note-taking feature. If it does, then this will be a pretty big thing for iBooks in terms of students using the platform. Note-taking during reading is something students do a lot. How those notes can be read back will also matter–will you be able to combine all your notes and print them out on a single sheet, no matter how they’re spread out in the text?
The big news, of course, was the new iPhone–the “iPhone 4” (couldn’t be the “4G” because the “G” refers to cell technology, not the generation of cell phone). Huge feature–as reported recently–4 times the resolution. 326 ppi, a stunning 960 x 640 display, almost more information than the eye can accept at the distance you would hold a device like that at comfortably, so Apple claims–ergo their name “retinal display.” When they bring this to the iPad, it’ll be unbelievable. Imagine a 2048 x 1536 display in your hands!
The new phone, again as leaked previously, has the front-facing camera for video chat (WiFi for now, 3G later), LED flash on the back, and the back camera is now 5 MP, with better light-gathering than before. 720p / 30fps video recording. The phone is about 25% thinner than the 3GS. There’s an extra mic for better sound pickup and noise cancellation. A new CPU. Better battery performance. Most of these things were known or guessed at.
What was not known: the “gyroscope,” an added motion sensing system, which makes the phone even more sensitive to movement, more able to respond to how you hold it and move it around.
iMovie for the iPhone: edit movies on the phone. Ken Burns effect for photos, scene transitions, titles, music tracks, themes, geolocation–and then upload the movie to the web, without going home or moving anything to a computer. Jobs mentioned that it’s pretty hard to remember what cell phones were like before the iPhone, and this app pretty effectively demonstrates that difference. Four years ago, I could barely figure out how to call up a photo taken with my cell phone, and the resolution was practically postage-stamp size. The features were few and horrifically complex to learn. Now, you’re editing movies on your cell phone, with a screen resolution better than some desktop monitors had just a few years ago.
One of the down sides of the leaks we’ve seen is that there’s little new to find out about. iMovie & iBooks for iPhone, the gyroscope, and a few other small and insignificant features were all that were new. Which is too bad, because there’s a ton of fantastic, even stunning new developments with the new iPhone. The high-resolution display, the new cameras, the new CPU, the new design, the new OS with multitasking, folders, and so on. Contrary to past keynotes, this was the most new features and goodies presented with the least surprises or new information that I can recall.
One other thing that this makes me think of–there’s so much new stuff on this phone, what’s left to add to the next-gen iPhone a year from now? Seriously. It’ll be hard to make it much slimmer; doubtful they’ll up the screen resolution; no more cameras to add, or video functionality; no more wireless stuff to add that I can foresee. The iPhone 4 didn’t up the flash memory, nor did it add colors, so that could change, but those are relatively mundane “upgrades.” So, what could be added next year that could compare with this year? The iPhone 4 will be pretty damned hard to beat, even for Apple.
One note, by the way: the iPad does not seem to be included in the devices that can get the iOS4 upgrade. It will come to the iPad, it will just come a bit later–exactly when is anyone’s guess.
An interesting turn of events at the keynote: so many people were livecasting and uploading photos, they overloaded the WiFi in the building a Jobs had to ask everybody to shut off their WiFi so he could do the demos. Here’s an idea, Steve: bring back the live video webcast. It’s shown online several days later, but you can get around the livecasting metablogs or whatever and speak directly to people around the world that way.