Wednesday, June 10, 2009

WWDC: What I loved and what I didn't

By Benedict Wee

Yesterday's keynote by Phil Schiller at Apple's WWDC brought about a mixed bag of surprises and disappointments for me. Waking up at 5 am, I didn't posses the mental capacity to give my thoughts of the conference but after a quick reset of my internal sleep clock I'm ready to talk about the highs and lows of yesterday's revelations. I believe in ending on a positive note so I'll be talking about the bad/meh stuff first. 

What I didn't like:
Different only on the inside

The iPhone 3GS
Firstly, it has a really confusing and silly name. There was a period where I was wondering if it's typed as 3G*space*S or just 3GS so I've decided to go with the latter even though there might be a problem pluralizing the name in the future or people wondering why I keep asking for $3000. Aside from that (petty) point, I was hoping for better upgrades in the Apple's new mobile. Video recording, a 3MP camera and voice control are features that other mobiles have had for a long time now and it should have been on the iPhone 3G -or even the first one- since many Apple users are in the art/design/photography/media industry and would depend on a decent camera. After that the only upgrades you get is a faster device and an electronic compass (which android phones had since day 1) which doesn't really make a significant difference to people. I wouldn't mind waiting a second more to start an application and I could get a compass anywhere.

What I would've liked to see was a front camera for video chat (and an ichat app to go along with it), bigger space (64GB) and probably come in a matte model to distinguish it from the previous generation's phone. I can't fit much into my 16GB iPod Touch anymore so if I were to buy an iPhone I'd probably have to get the 32GB one which still will not be enough for my videos and music and apps.

Firmware upgrade 3.0 for the iPhone/iPod Touch
There is no MMS support for iPhones when the firmware update hits which kinda sucks since it's been a standard function for mobiles for a long time now. The last I've heard on the Vodafone forum they have no news about supporting this function too. It's pretty ridiculous that they're taking so long just to get a simple program like this to work. Also, charging US$10 to upgrade your iPod Touch's firmware is pretty expensive (iPhone gets it for free).

MacBook Pro Battery
All new macbook pros will have in-built batteries which means that they're unremovable and for people (like me) who use their MacBooks as a desktop it means having to leave my notebook charged constantly or face the tedious act of scheduling charges just in case I need to travel. 

What I love:
Snow Leopard OSX
We've known about Apple's new OSX for their Macs and Macbooks for awhile now. The new user interface is pretty to look at, easy to use and it finally provides Exchange support. It also frees up 6GB of storage space which is a pretty neat feat to do when the logical train of thought is that it should take up more space when you upgrade.

I never paid too much attention to the specs and functions of this new operating system because I was attracted to Windows 7 and I didn't want to think about a new Mac OS which I'd have to pay over a hundred dollars for. It was a huge (and very pleasant) surprise when Phil announced that Leopard users only need to fork out US$30 for an upgrade to Snow Leopard and that is a price that I could get on board with. I don't think Vista users would be afforded a similar discount when 7 rolls out. 

MacBook Pro Family
Apple's announcement of the new 15" macbook pro and the 13" macbook upgrade to 'pro' status means that they might eventually phase out its white predecessor making all MacBooks equal. Besides that surface improvement, they'll all come with SD card readers and are upgradable to at least 8GB of memory which will set you up with a decent notebook for years to come so buying one of these new bad boys when they are released is a worthwhile investment. 

US$99 iphone 3G 
I've noticed that Apple is applying their MacBook/MacBook pro pricing models on the iPhone 3G and 3GS receptively which might prove successful in gaining converts to their brand. By allowing the previous 8GB model to stay at a reduced price, people who would never think of getting the expensive US$199 and US$299 models might consider getting its cheaper counterpart to try it out and once they've gotten familiar and comfortable with how to use the mobile's functions and OS they might purchase newer versions of the phone in the future. Brilliant marketing strategy Apple. 

Overall I would say that though the new iPhone announcement was disappointing, Apple made it up with their new line of MacBook Pros and the affordable OS. Right now I'm putting off a purchase of an iPhone till next year's WWDC but I am looking forward to getting that OS upgrade and possibly a new MacBook Pro for my partner who's in the market for a new notebook. 

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