Apple [AAPL] boss Tim Cook told the world: "There's several more game changers in us," yesterday, but don't expect these game changers to show up at WWDC -- this is going to be a software-focused event.
Developers, developers, etc...
Speaking at D11 last night, Cook put it this way: "What I can say is that we have our developer conference in less than two weeks. We’re going to be rolling out the future of iOS and OS X and we’re all super excited..."
"The important thing to remember about WWDC is that it is a developer conference. It’s not a place where Apple is going to show off the newest iPhone or iPad. These are Apple’s flagship products and they demand separate events. Entire industries watch these products because they shape what will happen in the mobile space. They are that important."
Apple is not about to introduce a flagship new product alongside a heavily redesigned OS. Given the critical nature of today's Apple coverage, any slight problem in the OS found once it is tested in the real world is likely to be criticised beyond proportion. Yet the link between Apple hardware and software is so important the company has even delayed new product launches.
So what to expect?
Cook talked a little on what to expect from the new breed of mobile operating system, which I believe will offer a more modern, fast interface that will itself likely be mirrored in some areas within OS X.
That integration will span both operating systems and the new operating system in development that we call iCloud. (Take a look at Adobe's move to embrace the cloud for a sense of just how important iCloud will become to Apple, and other OS vendors).
Apple's best design mind, Jony Ive, has been cooking up the UI changes in iOS 7. He makes hit hardware products and there's no reason not to expect the man to attempt to make a similar impact on the OS he now has a handle in.
On his appointment to the iOS leadership position, Cook told D11: "Apple recognized that Jony has contributed significantly to the look and feel of Apple over many, many years and could do that for our software as well."
"The key for having a great killer product is having incredible hardware, incredible software, and incredible services, and combining them in such a way that you can't tell what's what anymore," Cook said. "The real magic occurs at the intersection of them."
He added that the "absolutely incredible" designer has been "really key" to the changes taking place in the OS, but refused to share too much detail on what changes to expect in the operating system.
What we all we think we know right now is that this will be "flat", modernized with a black and white look and inclusive of a selection of new widgets for notifications and things like Wi-Fi connectivity.
There were some signals for the future, though these don't necessarily reflect any immediate plans.
Appy API joy, joy
The API is all important to app development. It can be seen as a software hook developers can use to grab system-level resources fro use in their apps.
“On the general topic of opening up APIs, I think you’ll see us open up more in the future,” he said, “but not to the degree that we put the customer at risk of having a bad experience. So there’s always a fine line to walk there, or maybe not so fine.”
This is a tactical move that could make iOS a little easier to tweak, at least to developers. Android devs can do thinks like replace the software keyboard and email client with other alternatives. The fact Cook's promised to loosen his company kimono very likely reflects a plan to throw a few bones designed to liven up the developer community.
"On the other hand, Apple always introduces new APIs for developers with each new version of iOS, and makes public some that were previously private. So in some ways, this is business as usual. But based on Cook’s statements, I think we’ll see a loosening of API restrictions that’s quite different from what we’ve seen in the past."
While this isn't quite the level of openness Android users claim to enjoy on their platform, it does suggest Apple has been listening to critics who complain its too controlling as regards to what people can do on its platforms.
Unlike Android, Apple intends putting any such openness through a "customer experience" and -- of course -- security filter. You'll be able to do more with the OS, but you won't be expected to subject yourself to security risks when you do.
Losing my religion
The notion that Apple's losing religion is a little extreme, but Cook did say his company isn't "religious" about not offering up a selection of apps for Android devices.
"To a general question of 'would Apple port an app from iOS to Android?'" Cook said in response to an audience member's question, "We have no religious issue with doing that. If we thought it made sense for us to do that, we would do that."
The notion of making sense is part of how Cook's company views each of its business decisions, he explained: "You can take that same philosophy and apply it to virtually everything we do: if it makes sense to do it, we would do it. It's not a religious issue with it."
Given Amazon, Google, Samsung and others involved in the Android chain are currently attempting to put together media services to compete with iTunes, his statement immediately made me imagine just how successful an iTunes for Android service might become.
Not only might this make it easy to take iTunes purchases on Apple platforms to other devices, but it would also have the laughable effect of taking money and locked-in loyalty away from competitors themselves seeking to lock Android users into their devices through media sales.
Plus it would be funny in the event iTunes turned out to be the best and most widely used media acquisition service on Android -- and would give the many dissatisfied Android users a sense of what an Apple mobile experience might be.
Of course, the evolution of iCloud will eventually be seen as more significant than the evolution of Apple's hardware. Ultimately iCloud will be central to most user's computing experience. With that in mind it seems inevitable Mac and iDevice users will want to be able to access iCloud services seamlessly using other platforms and other devices, so is iCloud coming to Android?
No, said Cook, but this may change. Would bringing iCloud to Android make sense, the audience asks: "It doesn't today. Would it forever? I don't know," said Cook.
WWDC will be interesting. Apple's diary for Q4 looks likely to be pretty interesting, too.
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