Yesterday was the kickoff of Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference for 2011. As you can imagine, we were all anticipating the changes this year’s keynote will bring for weeks before it actually took place. We even had a small poll going on whether or not there will be a new iPhone announcement even though rumors suggested there won’t be any.
Probably spoiled by Apple’s way of bringing new and innovative ideas to the table each year, I was hoping for something revolutionary, something that would rock my iOS-loving, iPhone-hugging world. Sadly all I saw were minor changes, most of which were already available one way or another.
Let’s look at what went missing yesterday at the keynote speech.
There was no new iPhone. Yes, that was a total bummer for any true Apple fan. I’m happy with my iPhone and I am certainly not planning on changing it, but I wanted to see what Apple would cook up next. And it wasn’t there. Maybe because of the tragedy that struck Japan (factories couldn’t build enough phones in time), maybe because Apple has decided that for now an overhaul of the OS is enough and a new device is not necessary. For now I guess we’ll have to wait until fall, when this new iPhone is rumored to appear.
Another rumor – the updated app switching panel – is nowhere to bee seen too. Rumors and leaks suggested we’d see a card styled multitasking system, which integrated Spotlight (the iOS search tool) at the top. There was nothing of the sort. I’m fond of the iOS multitasking system, which is a feature from iOS 4.0 since, but can’t help but wonder, couldn’t Apple find some use for this blank wasted space when you’re in app switching mode? It could easily be used to show some quick toggles for Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and the likes or even notifications. Maybe it all has something to do with battery life, on which Apple prides a lot. But we all know it’s bogus. They are either holding back on features or they are simply on standby mode to see what the competition will come up with by fall.
SMS delivery reports are still missing ever since day one of the iPhone OS. Well we got message delivery receipts, but only for iMessage (a service open only to iOS users). You will get delivery reports but only if you’re texting a friend with an iPod Touch, iPad or iPhone. Now I don’t know about you, but not all my friends are using iPhones, you know. And the worst thing is, delivery reports have long been enabled by an unofficial third-party app. If some developer can do it, so Apple can too. They just don’t want to add it.
Next up, iOS 5 still won’t integrate any widgets. I can totally see how Apple is pointing a big accusing finger towards battery life. Widgets are an Android thing, you might say, but hey, that didn’t stop them with the roll-down Notification center. Why would it about widgets? Widgets are a nice part of the desktop experience on MacOS so I can totally see them migrated to iOS too. They could have a separate page in the menu or they could even appear on the lockscreen. It would be so nice.
Anyway, still no luck with Mass storage either. Sure we have a much more convenient way of syncing our phones via WI-Fi now, but mass storage is the most convenient way of adding stuff to your phone, period. If Android can do it, without offering a file manager by default, then why not iOS?
On top of all that so far, I have to add the missing Bluetooth file transfers to the list. I know they will probably never happen on iOS and that’s something I can live with, but still it’s a shortcoming of iOS as long as a 7-year old Nokia phone has them. I know there’s an app for that, but it needs another smartphone with the same app on the receiving end. That goes against the universality of Bluetooth technology for file transfers.
Oh, and Facebook integration in the OS – that is something many people wanted and Apple went with Twitter instead.
Finally, we come to Google Maps. This is the single app I, personally, wanted to see get updated to its most current and up-to-date version. It’s so far ahead right now on Android, that the iOS version seems like a road kill next to it. We didn’t get the vector graphics, we didn’t get the two-finger rotation or the two-finger tilt with 3D buildings. Not to mention true GPS navigation with voice guidance and everything. I mean come on, it seems like every big smartphone OS has free GPS navigation and iPhones are among the most expensive ones. We should get this feature sooner or later. Android devices have been basking in Google Maps updates every three months or so. If Maps is going to be one of the pivotal features of the iPhone, then please, bring it up to speed, will you?
Maybe it’s the transition, that’s bothering Apple. Until not so long ago iOS was still in its development stages and still had to go through some changes to call itself a full-featured OS. But now iOS is no longer behind and has all the basics covered. The need for third-party hack apps has shrunk to a mere whim and not the necessity it was before. Perhaps now Apple is holding back on big announcements and is looking to make everything more solid and stable. Maybe it’s time for only small improvements and house cleaning instead of big, revolutionary remodelling.
In closing I’d like to say that despite all the things Apple did miss yesterday, it did hit some right spots too – the notification center for one. Yes it’s a rip-off Android and not very innovative but I like it none the less. Wi-Fi syncing and the whole “No PC” and “cutting the cord” thing, is welcome, too. Overall, most changes we saw presented in iOS 5 are actually kinda cool. It’s just that not all aspects of iOS got updated the way I think they should have. And if it’s not with iOS 5, then there’s a whole year ahead waiting for iOS 6, which can possibly fix some of this stuff for us.