For background on this post scan the 5 minute guide and MG Siegler's nuanced feature spin for WWDC coverage. For an opposing perspective this story paints a not so rosy look at the copy cat features announced. As a consumer whore, I appreciate when great UIs are mimicked, keep it coming.
Way back, at the dawn of
civilization personal computing
My hardware history used to be driven by the misinformed credo cheaper is better. Back when I started heavily using computers I had no money, so I failed to consider the time cost of tricking out the internals, and wrestling with blue screens due to driver incompatibilities. I flashed a few BIOSes, swapped a few motherboards, CPUs, fans, power supplies, and learned a little about ISA/PCI buses and daisy chained device cables. It wasn't all bad. Electronic hardware was always a yawner to me because it's static once created (FPGAs are little more interesting).
Soon after the time I began working as an engineer (mid 90s) there was a big shift from SGIs and Suns to cheaper PCs, and much less variation in adoption of operating systems. The OS industry standard was categorically dominated by Windows for both gaming and work.
Windows still has a majority stake in the enterprise market today, but it's share is shrinking. It's mind share of developers is sinking like a stone. To prove my point, try finding windows mobile developers. If you don't believe the tech market will be dominated by mobile and tablet interfaces, please close your IE 6 browser now, and return to the comforting embrace of blissful ignorance.
In early 2010 there was a trojan incident that broke the camel's back in our home network. My wife's laptop was hopelessly infected even after repeat attempts to scorch the Earth. She had data on the system and couldn't move it all to DropBox. My IT solution for her was to pick up an iMac and keep on working and it's been smooth sailing ever since (one hiccup on poorly ported biology software).
At the same time I was running into web dev woes with Windows' sad support of Ruby, Python, git, browsers and pretty much anything related to web, open source, or distributed development. I had been burned by Windows for the last time, and jumped to Ubuntu's Karmic release.
I adored the open options of Ubuntu (customized my own theme), and the incredible support for open source development libraries. But I ran into trouble with basic system drivers (mouse/display) and was missing the media support (no Netflix) I took for granted while within Windows confines.
A little research and testing on the MacMini revealed full support for web development tools on OS X, fantastic media support (minus iTunes shitty plugin model), and the best damn text editor in all of creation: TextMate1.
I am a Fan of Apple
Fast forward to the present, and my premier dev system is a jazzed up iMac with a MacBook Air sidekick as a portable dev system. I've had a couple of iPhones, the latest without a phone/data plan. My wife and I share an iPad for living room browsing while watching Netflix or taking turns (mostly me) playing games on the PS3.
And yet the latest updates leave me concerned. While the features coming out later this year for iOS5 and OS X Lion are welcome (iCloud/Media sync over wifi), they were also predictable. I'm left wondering what's the next miracle for the tech giant?
The company has historically been a hit based business thriving off of home runs with gadgets and hardware. Their app and software business is alive and well, but hasn't yet grown to the point where it competes with the margins Apple can charge on devices. Apple would do well to give birth to another breakout device, and if we're lucky they'll reveal it today.
- TextMate is the real reason I'm a Mac convert today with all the features I could ever want in an IDE with a super clean UI, without any of the heft of an IDE. Now cross language development is as easy as opening another project, with slick Bundles. Xcode has a cleaned up UI and superb support for objective C (duh), Visual Studio includes a beautiful debugger (industry best), and Eclipse supports a bevy of languages with open source contributions (keep the other boys honest), but they are no TextMate.