1. WWDC 07

    brian on 2007.06.12
    at 12:02 am

    Today is WWDC Keynote day, and tonight, the stream of the keynote has now been posted on Apple’s site.

    But I’m not here to talk about the video.

    WWDC today was big. It seemed disappointing to those of us looking for new goodies to buy. I’m wondering what the hell all the computer hardware designers are up to? Have they been lent to the iPhone division, too? Where’s my jetpack new Mac toys? Small, lightweight notebooks? Mac mini refresh? Tablet goodies? Touch screen enabled iMacs? Where’s my iPod updates? Movie rentals? XM Satellite integration? I wanted to leave the keynote in desperate capitalistic desire. No such luck.

    I’m excited about Leopard, and I’m excited about today’s Desktop and Finder announcements. They were long over due. Hopefully, they’ll rectify the Finder’s poor standing. It badly needed some love, which it hadn’t had any of since 10.3. It had been coasting on the strength of its foundation and on the slickness of the apps that laid on top. It just cowered in the corner, hoping you’d just open a file and move along quickly. Today gave me hope that it’ll stand a little more proud.

    But let’s talk about Safari. It’s not such a leap to see Safari for Windows. After all, Safari is just an executable chrome wrapper for the WebKit open-source HTML and JavaScript engine. So that’s not a big deal. Apple is already actually one of the largest developers for Windows, with millions of copies of iTunes, on the street along with QuickTime. Most people don’t even realize that. They also make software to run their AirPort routers, software to enable Bonjour Zero-Config networking, and software to enable the Mighty Mouse on Windows, as well. No big deal. In fact, Apple even makes a version of Apple Software Update, so that you can keep all of those apps current easily just like you can on the Mac.

    But they didn’t just put out Safari out of the kindness of their hearts, and not just because they could. There was a lot of internal debate about this, I assure you. Here’s why I think they did it. From least important to most.

    • Yet another piece of great software in front of millions of users. Expect to see this bundled along with iTunes and QuickTime downloads in the near future. Pretty soon, when you’re running four or five Apple apps a day, using your iPod and/or iPhone… when it comes time to buy a new computer, suddenly running the Apple OS behind your Apple apps isn’t so foreign. Take note: today’s Finder improvements all follow the form of iTunes. If you’ve been using iTunes for years and sit down on a Mac for the first time, everything is going to be eerily intuitive. Familiar. Dejá vu, maybe.
    • Better for web development. If the app is available for Windows, it’s that much easier for standards-based websites to be tested. It drives competition in the browser space. Now people who develop sites and can’t get their bosses to spring for a Mac, don’t have to give Mac users the finger.
    • But the top two are nothing. The reason Safari for Windows exists is because Safari for iPhone exists. With the announcement that 3rd party apps on the iPhone will only work through the language of the web: HTML/XML, CSS and Javascript; Safari has just become a development platform. Let me repeat: Safari is now a development platform.

    Want to build an app for the most talked about phone in the world? Here’s what you test on. Boom, free download, no new languages to learn, no special APIs, whatever. It’s never been easier to develop such important software.

    And make no mistake, the iPhone is the opening salvo for the real Internet, gone mobile. I guaranty that this will force the hand of every handset maker to enable apps to be built in this fashion. Web development has reached a level of maturity that it can be the lingua franca of the mobile phone app space. And Apple has a huge advantage here because they control three things no one else has in combination, and they’ve just slid the competition onto their home court. The make a computer operating system, they make a web browser, they make hardware. No other company on the planet (save Microsoft, if you count the XBox – sorta) has this combination.

    What else has this done? Well, if as I predict, web apps now become phone apps across the board, Apple has just simplified two spaces with one swing. One, mobile app creation was a mess, all sorts of ridiculous proprietary languages, Brew, Java, WinCE, Palm, a little Linux… but if everyone could just chuck those and move to web code, then things simplify greatly, costs plummet, and numbers of qualified coders go through the roof. Any old company (practically) with a web department can now make their own custom apps. Internal apps, customer facing, or apps to sell. Imagine the possibilities.

    Two, flush all this phone-specific web app and web page creation down the toilet, where it belongs. The most complex you should ever have to get (on the client side) in the future of web/phone development is javascript and maybe a mobile-specific style sheet. Less time learning specialize code, testing on a gazillion platforms (if it validates, it runs), more time iterating and shipping software. Again, like above, things simplify greatly, costs plummet, and numbers of qualified applicants go through the roof. If it runs on Safari, it runs on phones across the world.

    This is a no brainer, mobile industry. Start your photocopiers!

    But wait, it gets better. Safari’s WebKit is open source. Not only has Apple changed the game, but they’re giving away a good portion of their playbook to the competition. Listen up build WebKit into your phone and make iPhone apps work on your phone! Double the number of apps that run on your phones instantly. Make the barrier to entry many times lower. Make your phone crash less because these apps run in the sandbox that is the browser. Nokia is already there, they’ve been using WebKit for at least a year now. They are mere tweaks away from being able to run iPhone apps natively on their platform. That’s powerful. Game changing. See why OSS is a good thing?

    Of course, the mobile industry has been floating brain dead for so long, it might take them a while to snap out of their stupor, realize why this is really, really good for them and why they should get on board. I have a hunch that this morning, Nokia has started down this very route.

    The sounds of cash registers exploding on June 29 should hopefully nudge the rest of that industry along, too. A jet pack for the mind, in every pocket.

    What do you think? Use the comments, my friend, and spread the link, the world needs to know the revolution is here!

    Posted in: Apple · Standards · Web


    Comments (1)

    1. Urs said on 2007.06.14 at 06:47 am


      Thank you.
      You are the first here that seems to understand what this announcment of Safari on Windows AND on the iPhone meant. I just don’t get it why so many developers don’t understand this. I just can’t imagine usafull applications for a PHONE that can’t be done in AJAX… besides games maybe. but who cares about games? :-)

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